Sunday, February 23, 2014

Classing up the Winter Olympics with Onion Satire

With all the TV coverage focused on national identities and the satirical news taking shots at the whiteness of competitors while sending up the anti-homosexual policies of host-nation Russia amidst all of the usual gay stereotypes associated with the winter games (see any Colbert Report or Daily Show over the past few weeks), it's easy to overlook the socio-economic issues involved in the Olympic dream. Bring class back into your class discussion of media representation and reality with this poignant headline and short article from the masters of satire at the Onion (click link to see article):

Winter Olympics Inspire Nation’s Youth To Try Sports Their Parents Can’t Afford

Who can afford to go for the gold?
Just before this article cracked me up, I watched NBC do a short piece tallying the cost of Bode Miller's skiing equipment, which they estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's not like the money issue is subtle in Olympic coverage--with all the sponsors, the talk about the costs of bobsleds, etc. However, seldom do we see the equipment costs connected with the opportunities for people to compete or enjoy participating in the featured sports (and even more rare is any connection made between such class issues and nationality, or race, or gender). So, here's an easy way to start the conversation through a bit of satire about media construction of heroes, and unreachable desires--and the Onion's framing within parent-child tensions around money makes this an accessible piece for middle school through college age students in social studies, English, or media studies settings.

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