Sunday, March 4, 2012

Al Trautwig's finest work

Yesterday's televised version of the American Cup featured some of the very finest of NBC's commentary (which means to say the very worst) and some of the best chestnuts belonged to Al Trautwig, the resident "average Joe," who is supposed to ask the questions on behalf of the non-gymnastics experts out there.

One of yesterday's competitors at Madison Square Garden was Bronx native John Orozco and you better believe that NBC did as much as humanly possible with it. In addition to a fluff piece about Orozco growing up on the rough and tumble streets of Beirut, er, I mean the Bronx, Al had these verbal gems about the northernmost borough in New York City.

Before introducing the fluff piece, the camera zoomed in on Orozco's pores and Al narrated, "His road to this American Cup is a lot like the streets of New York--filled with human potholes."

What exactly are "human potholes" Al? Anyone? From what the little piece showed, Orozco hails from a tight knit, loving family who have had their share of troubles but nothing extraordinary in its pathos. They live in a rough neighborhood and support themselves off of a civil servant's family. Not wealthy and certainly not able to handle the expenses that go into training an elite athlete, but they are not about to make a movie of the week about him just yet.

But Trautwig was not yet done with the bane of NYC drivers' lives. After Orozco's fall from the pommel horse, Al said, "New York City where John Orozco is from is a city with many potholes and that was one on the way to London."

Hey Al--we get it. New York has a lot of potholes. And I guess to the folks in other parts of the country who were watching the competition, NYC is nothing more than the pothole riddled, graffiti covered capital of godless secular Jewish atheists. And while that's true, most of us pay little or no mind to the potholes because the majority of New Yorkers take mass transit. Next time compare Orozco's tribulations to the subway system, will ya?

But while we're awkwardly linking competitors' family backgrounds to what is happening during the meet, let's extend the same courtesy to Danell Leyva. As you probably know if you watched the broadcast because they mentioned it about a thousand times that Leyva and his family left Cuba when he was just one years old.

"Just as Danell and his parents fled Cuba and Castro for the U.S. and with that high bar routine, Leyva has run away from the other competitors with the American Cup title."

See, I could work for NBC too. (Anyone want to start an online campaign?)


Cera said...

I have just discovered your blog & am eagerly catching up.

What Trautwig is really trying to say is: "Look! Orozco's NOT WHITE! In fact, he's BLACK! There is a black gymnast! We are shocked! He must be a very special snowflake indeed!"

But he can't say that, of course, because Americans don't talk openly about race, so instead he has to keep saying "The Bronx! He's from the Bronx!"

I am sure that the institutionalised racism in the US has had an effect on Orozco's life and career, and that as a black American athlete in a sport with few people of colour he has had some challenges which white gymnasts don't face. And an honest analysis of this would be fascinating. But Trautwig and "honest analysis" are, of course, impossible, and so we're reduced to the usual NBC least common denominator, where we are supposed to read "Bronx" as "poor black kid from a tough neighbourhood overcoming odds thus proving that racism doesn't exist". Feh.

Dvora Meyers said...

Yes, there definitely seems to be something vaguely racist (and definitely gross) about what Trautwig was saying though someone was telling me that during the coverage of the NYC marathon he also said something about human potholes. I haven't yet had a chance to look into that. Even if he did, the insistence on it this time around (when Orozco was not in fact running on the pavement as the marathon runners were) does seem to be a way of referring to his race and socioeconomic background.

As a native New Yorker, I am annoyed for an additional reason--i just can't stand when lazy cliches about the city are used. I got annoyed when the subway on 2 Broke Girls was covered in graffiti (what is it? the 80s?) and stuff like this.

Hey Al-next time you are searching for something that has a hole and is New York-y, might I suggest the bagel?