Eddie McGuire has excelled himself in Vancouver with his coverage for Channel Nine.
This report was in The Age on 19 February 2010:
Eddie's pub humour fails to find funny bones
American ice skater Johnny Weir performs at the Vancouver Games.
CHANNEL Nine’s Vancouver Games coverage has become the Winter Olympics of discontent with some viewers angered over the commentary style of host Eddie McGuire.
A Facebook group established this week by a disgruntled ice hockey player in Sydney has struck a nerve. On Wednesday night, it had just three members. By 7 o’clock last night it was at 300 and growing.
IT worker Rowan Lean, 28, insists he had no particular feelings towards McGuire before the Games. But that all changed when he tuned in to McGuire’s interview with Australia’s silver medallist in the moguls, Dale Begg-Smith.
‘‘I couldn’t stop cringing,’’ said Mr Lean. ‘‘He was just baiting him, trying to get a rise. I literally had to change the channel, and I never do that with sport.’’
Next came McGuire’s interview with former ice-skater Katarina Witt, in which he referred to her 1988 Playboy shoot. ‘‘I thought I was watching a 15-year-old drooling. He might have been saying things that maybe would come up at the pub, but it’s the Olympics, a noble sporting event, and he’s making it really painful.’’
So, on Wednesday evening, he decided to lodge his protest by starting a Facebook group under the banner ‘‘Eddie Mcguire is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage’’.
It started as a joke between Mr Lean and two friends, but began picking up momentum yesterday in the wake of McGuire and Mick Molloy’s commentary on the ice-skating.
As 24-year-old American skater Johnny Weir (pictured) performed his routine, McGuire and Molloy went into bar-room mode, with sly allusions to Weir’s sexuality. Though undeniably flamboyant, the three-time American national champion steadfastly refuses, US military style, to either confirm or deny which way he pivots.
The commentary pair made reference to the film Brokeback Mountain and Molloy joked that the lightly built, heavily made-up Weir was a builder by day.
‘‘They don’t leave anything in the locker room, those blokes,’’ said Molloy.
‘‘They don’t leave anything in the closet either, do they?’’ McGuire said, laughing.
‘‘Careful,’’ Molloy replied. ‘‘You’ll get yourself into trouble.’’
As the Facebook group picked up pace, over on Twitter the anti-Eddie sentiment went into overdrive. ‘‘Oh ha ha ... let’s make jokes about the male figure skaters being gay ... groundbreaking televisual wit right there Eddie McGuire,’’ was one of the few we could republish.
Channel Nine declined to comment
Then read the following in the context of what is above, and an interesting picture starts to emerge:
PROFESSOR FINDS STRANGE OVERTONES IN THE UP-AND-UNDER
Football seen as an all boys homoerotic rite
Article from the WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN 18-19 November 1978
From DON ANDERSON of our NEW YORK BUREAU
The homoerotic impulses of a rugby league forward may not seem to be the meat of a typical anthropological thesis. But, as of today, scrum locks everywhere might think twice before packing down.
And should their oldest friends seem to begin whispering in far corners of a room, they can blame Professor Alan Dundes of the University of California at Berkeley.
Professor Dundes, after several years in research, has produced a work which holds unequivocally that all football is a thinly veiled excuse for homosexual ritual.
“The sexual symbolism of the game makes it clear that football is a homosexual ceremony,” he pronounced this week. And some heavyweight psychologists around the country immediately support him.
While Professor Dundes talks of the game of gridiron, the symbolism he sees therein is no less present in rugby league and union.. It may be more so.
The uniforms, for example, are only the giveaway tip of the iceberg. “They are sexual – enlarged shoulder, narrow waist, tight pants (or shorts). The consistency of the imagery is nothing short of amazing.”
And the jargon. Pure erotica, he says. Words like “score” are equally related to the backseats of cars at drive-ins.
He sees the tackling or knocking down of an opposing player as attempts to “put them in the supine, feminine position.” It is all plunder, rape and reeks of deflowering.
In fact, “football is a ritualized form of homosexual rape. The winners feminize the losers by getting into their end zone.” (Rugby, to its credit and relief, has no such expression as “end zone.”)
What, though, would Professor Dundes make of our “hookers’? What bizarre sensual significance might he read into that strange orgiastic merging of bodies, the scrum itself? Already he sees pathological implications in the legs-apart, head-down stance of American footballers.
The stance, he says, is a form of sexual presentation derived from the animal world. Just as apes raise their bottoms and present their genitals as a sign of submission to stronger males, gridiron linemen (forwards) present their bottoms to their more prestigious teammates in the backfield.
Transporting the same situation to Sydney Cricket Ground on a Saturday afternoon, Professor Dundes’ disciples might well wonder what thoughts were running through the minds of five-eighths, centers and full-backs.
Here, as there, the professor’s theory finds such tell-tale expressions as “putting the ball between the uprights.”
Even the excited gesticulations of a try-scorer are a form of “confirming to all assembled that the enemy’s end zone (try line) has been penetrated.”
The whole ceremony, he believes is merely a sanctioned form of theatre where players and fans can safely discharge their homoerotic impulses.
The coach who asks his players to refrain from sex before a game intuitively understands that football is a temporary substitute for heterosexuality. And so, he adds, do “football widows” understand that their husbands are “dead to them sexually” while a game is on television.
“Football is a health outlet for male-to-male affections,” adds Professor Dundes, “just as spin the bottle and post office are healthy outlets for adolescent heterosexual needs.”
The one man no self-respecting American football fan wanted to hear corroboration from in all this is a former running back football hero, David Kopay.
He is the subject of a book, The David Kopay Story, and the reason the book was worth writing is that Mr Kopay admits he is, was and will be homosexual. His gaiety – if that be the noun – is militant.
And his view of Professor Dundes’ theory is: “I think his ideas are very profound. My hunch is that it’s right on.” Furthermore, he says, that if homosexuality is not overt on the football field, “it sure as hell is covert.” And he’s backed by San Francisco female psychologist Jane Jacobs.
The unanswered question in Professor Dundes’ theory must now be the status of the referee. If footy be a gay rite, what sort of devious pleasure does the man with the whistle take in all this? What exactly would the professor read in his thoughts as he ordered some husky second-rower to “play the ball”?
And what of the broadcasters? Is there a nefarious thrill in describing a conversion as “right between the uprights”? Professor Dundes believes it all bears further investigation.
Does the stiff-arm have a deeper connotation? The spear tackle? The pile-driver?
What about the up-and-under?
If Professor Dundes is even half-right, it may be safer to buy our sons dolls this Christmas.
Crikey.com had this gem on 18 February 2010, the day before The Age published the story:
5. Eddie and Mick feel the heat in Vancouver gay row
Andrew Crook writes:
EDDIE MCGUIRE, MICK MOLLOY, NINE NETWORK
Channel Nine has been hit with a blizzard of complaints over its Winter Olympics coverage, with host Eddie McGuire and Melbourne comedian Mick Molloy in the firing line this morning over "h-mophobic" comments targeting figure skating champion Johnny Weir.
Last night, during Nine's primetime "highlights package", Eddie and sidekick Mick decided to whip out the schoolboy sniggering as they gave their considered assessments of Weir's Vancouver routine. The graceful Weir, who has not formally "outed" himself, appeared to be too much for the duo to bear. Let's go to the transcript. (We'd go to the tape, but copyright issues mean we'd be stuck in the courts for decades. You can see footage of Weir skating to Lady Gaga here).
EDDIE MCGUIRE: ...what about the fashion at the ice skating?
MICK MOLLOY: They don't leave anything in the locker room those blokes.
EDDIE: They leave nothing...
MICK: When they get out there...
EDDIE: They don't leave anything in the closet either do they? [Laughs].
MICK: They [laughs], well they -- careful you'll get yourself into trouble there...
EDDIE: Sorry mate.
But the daring duo weren't finished.
MICK: Look at this guy, it was like one of those fake tuxedos that you -- even Prince saw that and went, oh hang on, you can't go out wearing that. Oh look out, the hay seed look's in this year. What is that?
EDDIE: A bit of broke back?
MICK: A bit of Brokeback Mountain exercise. You can't wear it. They're very flamboyant, they love a bit of colour as we said.
In the minutes after the exchange, Twitter lit up in anger, with a torrent of criticism demanding McGuire be booted, alongside a number of other general gripes over the Footy Show-style jocularity and gratuitous repeats that have dominated Nine's coverage.
* @Shhhannon Just saw Eddie McGuire step in it with an inappropriate comment about a male ice-skater. Watch this space for controversy!
* @henrys_creek If Eddie McGuire wasn't enough of a w-nker, now makes quite a h-mophobic quip with Johnny Weir. Bastard.
* @bottled_love: Oh haha.... let's make jokes about the male figure skaters being gay... groundbreaking televisual wit right there Eddie McGuire
* @linclefevre Go on Eddie McGuire. Make some more gay jokes. Dick.
* @nilesedge Ugggh who let Eddie mcguire near the winter olympics?? He's a f-cking football yob and that's it
* @dominiquelam Eddie McGuire you are such a douche bag. One rich douche bag.
* @abbiemc OMG Eddie McGuire. "they don't leave much in the closet" "brokeback mountain" SHUT UP. I hope there are complaints. Many.
* @Selenadover OMG, did Eddie McGuire just suggest Johnny Weir is less than manly?
* @chicachow Can't decide what he finds more offensive: channel nine's vaguely ho-ophobic figure skating commentating or Eddie mcguire's face.
* @ozreedgal: eddie mcguire has made a number of little digs about competitors' s-xuality since I've been watching 2night. He's obsessed #olympics.
The anger promptly spread to Facebook, with a group "Eddie Mcguire is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage" bursting this morning with anti-Eddie vitriol. The Facebook page has said that it has submitted several formal complaint letters to the relevent department at Channel Nine.
Twitterers also pointed to "patronising" interviews McGuire has conducted with Winter Olympics superstars, including female figure skater Katarina Witt, where Witt's 1998 Playboy front cover was dredged up again to her visible dismay.
Nine paid about $100 million alongside broadcast partners Foxtel for the TV rights to the 2010 and 2012 games. But the ratings have been disappointing, with the network coming in third last night behind Seven's Gangs of Oz and Ten's So You Think You Can Dance Australia.
There is also talk that the games themselves are also in trouble: this Reuters article ("Vancouver's Games in danger of sinking into meltwater") wraps the bad news so far, with the opening-day death of Nodar Kumaritashvili snowballing into problems over spectator safety concerns, a lack of the white stuff and protests over the millions wasted while Vancouver struggles with the social problems of its Downtown Eastside slum area.
McGuire has continued with his Triple M breakfast radio slot from Vancouver, phoning in the banter each North American afternoon.
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And then this letter in The Age on 19 February 2010:
OVER the first five minutes of Vancouver coverage that I saw on Wednesday night, I listened to Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy make numerous offensive comments, most of which linked male ice-skaters and homosexuality, but also covered matters such as the ''redneck'' sport of curling. This disgusting display of ''Olympic coverage'' culminated in a comment about male ice-skaters bringing their own pillows, which, to my amazement, was delivered immediately after an apology made by Mr Molloy about an offensive comment he'd made on a previous night.
This was not relevant coverage of the winter Olympics, it wasn't even funny; it was a dialogue between two men lacking intelligence, professionalism and understanding. If these TV personalities can only offer poor journalism littered with homophobia and superiority, then perhaps we need to find new commentators. Perhaps someone who knows a thing or two about winter sports.
Fontaine Dunstan, Ripponlea