Much of the Olympics opening ceremony brought back warm and fuzzy memories of my 2005 summer abroad in England. The Danny Boyle-directed performance -- which was, as the Telegraph put it, "brilliant, breathtaking, bonkers, and utterly British" -- depicted the nation's history from the early 19th century to present day. There was a parachuting Queen, J.K. Rowling, Voldemort, the Sex Pistols, and Beatles complete with yellow submarines, but one particularly poignant moment was edited out of the version we here in the U.S. saw on Friday night ...
The axed performance appeared to be a tribute to the victims of the 7/7/2005 terror attacks in London -- which claimed 52 lives just days after the 2012 Summer Olympic hosts were named -- set the song "Abide With Me" by Scottish singer Emeli Sandé. NBC made the now widely criticized decision to replace the sensitive segment with ... Ryan Seacrest interviewing Michael Phelps! What on earth were they thinking?!
Now, to be fair, there appeared to be some confusion if the performance itself was a tribute to the 7/7 victims. The official media guide to the opening ceremony made no reference to it as a 7/7 memorial. The choreographer, Akram Khan, said the theme was mortality, but we Americans still did not see a video tribute to the victims that came on right before the cut performance. And regardless, both the video and the performance were sensitive moments to edit out for something as inane as a Seacrest interview with Phelps!
Defending the decision, NBC spokesman Greg Hughes said:
Our programming is tailored for the U.S. audience. It's a tribute to [producer] Danny Boyle that it required so little editing.
Ridiculous! As an American who was in London during the 7/7 attacks, I am beyond insulted by this poor decision-making on their part. Even if I hadn't been there in 2005 -- terrified to go back to traveling the city by foot or, especially, by tube (aka subway) -- I would be. Does NBC believe that we as Americans are not supposed to care or commiserate, because the attack didn't happen on our shores? SO ignorant! Not to mention, it sends a dangerous message globally, that once again, self-centered America could care less about an international crisis that we believe didn't affect us directly. But the truth is that it did directly and indirectly affect Americans. And even if it hadn't, the move was incredibly tone-deaf and insensitive.
Can you imagine the BBC opting to cut out a tribute to 9-11 at a future Olympics held in the States because it wasn't "tailored for a UK audience"? If that happened, suffice to say the switchboards at BBC Broadcasting House would have blown a fuse.
Of course, we don't know whether or not NBC realized what a glaring error they were making when they cut the segment, but for their refusal to stand corrected, they definitely deserve all the criticism directed their way. There's no question: This was an #NBCFail.
Watch the cut performance here ...
Are you offended by NBC's decision?