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  1. #281

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceJunkie View Post
    With Michael Phelps, it didn't matter who he was, the fact that he won a record 8 gold medals in one Olympics for the United States of America is what made him a superstar.
    True, but it didn't stop the schlockmongers of overproduction at NBC from hammering us with that story about him having ADHD and an absent father.

    It actually brings up a good point. The public responded to his amazing competitive record. NBC almost refuses to allow the public to respond organically. They *must!* determine the storyline before hand. Ugh.

    In 1998, the general public really embraced Tara wholeheartedly, and I think they would have forgiven the poorly handled abscence at worlds. But media folks within the skating world stuck with Michelle, Tara's people continued to make missteps, and gradually the non-skating media more or less threw up their hands and let the story die out. Even 4 years later, there was very little analysis or comparison in the media of Sarah's program to Tara's. I saw a few reporters refer to Sarah's program as "the most difficult ever," which is a very debatable assertion.
    Keeper of Nathalie Pechelat's bitchface.

  2. #282
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coco View Post
    It actually brings up a good point. The public responded to his amazing competitive record. NBC almost refuses to allow the public to respond organically. They *must!* determine the storyline before hand. Ugh.
    If there is ONE beef I have with NBC's Olympic coverage (besides tape-delay, but that's another thread), it's this.

    But in their defense, I really can't think of another network that would have handled it any differently.

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    I wonder if Oksana Baiul would have been embraced as she was without her hard luck story. If she were from a wealthy family and came across as a pweety pwincess - would she have been viewed differently? We can't ever know, but my guess is that her hard luck story very much helped her.

  4. #284
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceJunkie View Post
    If you win and your mom was a crackhead and your dad was in a gang, had a mentor pull you out of it and now you're a champion, well that's even better.
    THAT'S why I could never skate! My dad was the crackhead and my mom was in a gang. I never had a chance!
    If this is to end in fire
    Then we will all burn together

  5. #285
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fan123 View Post
    One can also argue that Middle America could have perceived Michelle in a negative light cuz of China's history of human rights violations.
    I don't think most of this mythical Middle America would even know that Michelle has Chinese ancestry. They would just recognize her as being "Asian". And linking Michelle to human rights violations in China? Sorry, but that's way too much of a stretch. To be blunt, as long as there are cheap Chinese-made goods to buy, I don't think a lot of Americans are too concerned about Chinese human rights violations - and certainly not concerned enough to think negatively of a skater because of that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polymer Bob View Post
    When Mao and Yu-Na are humble and modest, that gets noticed. When Cheltzie Lee and Kiira Korpi are humble and modest, people don't care as much.
    Korpi is noticed regularly in Finland. Perhaps to be noticed in North America a skater has to win regularly.

    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    To be blunt, as long as there are cheap Chinese-made goods to buy, I don't think a lot of Americans are too concerned about Chinese human rights violations - and certainly not concerned enough to think negatively of a skater because of that.
    There's a great scene in the movie "Outsourced" where the heroine, a call-center agent in India, gets an irate phone call from a guy in the US who complains about the the China-made merchandise was taking away jobs from Americans. She then offers to sell him a model from a competitor that was made in America, and the customer is happy until she tells him the price, which was at least 6 times the price of the one she was selling, and he happily buys the cheaper one.
    "'Is this new BMW-designed sled the ultimate sledding machine for Langdon and Holcomb?' Leigh Diffey asked before the pair cruised to victory. I don’t know, but I know that sled is the ultimate Olympic Games product placement.." -- Jen Chaney

  7. #287
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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    I don't think most of this mythical Middle America would even know that Michelle has Chinese ancestry. They would just recognize her as being "Asian".
    Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    And linking Michelle to human rights violations in China? Sorry, but that's way too much of a stretch. To be blunt, as long as there are cheap Chinese-made goods to buy, I don't think a lot of Americans are too concerned about Chinese human rights violations - and certainly not concerned enough to think negatively of a skater because of that.
    Just prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics, there were a lot negative press about China on it's human rights violations. Michelle is of Chinese descent, so I wouldn't be surprised if some Middle American folks might had irrationally link her in that way, the same way for Kristie due to the blame Japan problem in the early 90s. In 2008, Michelle was already so loved by everyone, so her image was never tarnished.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bostonfan
    I wonder if Oksana Baiul would have been embraced as she was without her hard luck story. If she were from a wealthy family and came across as a pweety pwincess - would she have been viewed differently? We can't ever know, but my guess is that her hard luck story very much helped her.
    As a fan, the only thing I remember from Oksana was her edging out Nancy for the '94 Olympic gold, and her amazing white swan exhibition. The orphan thing was only secondary, and that went away when her pro performances were less than stellar. Her drunk driving behavior didn't help her image either.

  8. #288
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fan123 View Post
    Just prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics, there were a lot negative press about China on it's human rights violations. Michelle is of Chinese descent, so I wouldn't be surprised if some Middle American folks might had irrationally link her in that way, the same way for Kristie due to the blame Japan problem in the early 90s. In 2008, Michelle was already so loved by everyone, so her image was never tarnished.
    You're kind of missing my point. If people think of Michelle as just "Asian", they are not going to link her with Chinese human rights violations, because they're not specifically thinking of her as Chinese. And knowledge of Chinese human rights violations, or protesting against them, is still pretty minimal in the US as far as I can tell. If there are protests/boycotts/whatever, I think a skater is pretty far down on the list of potential targets.

    And I think Kristi's problem was more that advertisers didn't think she looked "American" (not saying that I agree with that), not that there was this huge backlash against Japan that she would be associated with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fan123 View Post
    As a fan, the only thing I remember from Oksana was her edging out Nancy for the '94 Olympic gold, and her amazing white swan exhibition. The orphan thing was only secondary, and that went away when her pro performances were less than stellar. Her drunk driving behavior didn't help her image either.
    I remember quite clearly in the build-up to Lillihamer the story of her being orphaned and taken under the wing of Galina and Victor. She was also (at the time) the youngest champion. Then she had the collision with another skater during the Olympic warm-up. All of it played up by the media at those Games that were hungry for compelling stories. She was able to ride that wave of sentiment for awhile after that win. But the question is what if she were just a nice, young skater that came from a solid background with no money issues, and no trauma? Would she have won so many hearts right off the bat in her eligible career? Or would her star have faded much like Sarah's did in the season immediately following the Olmypics?

    I'm not agreeing with those that say a compelling backstory is necessary to achieve a certain degree of attention in this sport. I'm merely theorizing about one specific case where such a compelling backstory may have helped a skater more than if she didn't have one.

  10. #290
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    As an Asian-American, most ignorant Americans are more likely to assume most asians they meet are Chinese, rather than anything else.

    To be honest I don't think Tara's rich background hurt her that much, although it probably didn't do her any favors that's for sure, but the press and public had already latched on to Michelle as America's sweetheart, while Tara was the tiny little pipsqueak/upstart

  11. #291
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bostonfan View Post
    I wonder if Oksana Baiul would have been embraced as she was without her hard luck story. If she were from a wealthy family and came across as a pweety pwincess - would she have been viewed differently? We can't ever know, but my guess is that her hard luck story very much helped her.
    I think her life story definitely helped her image early in her career. Its impossible not to want somebody with that background to do well. Later in her career, it didn't help her much. The sad life story will only get your foot in the door (for lack of a better way to put it). After initial success, people will start judging you more on the way you pesent yourself. Think of all the professional athletes out there who came from broken families yet have extremely poor images because of their actions after becomming famous.

    I always wonder what would have happened to Oksana if she hadn't won the gold medal, or even medaled at the 1998 Olympics. She had absolutely no support system outside the world of skating, absolutely nothing to fall back on.

  12. #292
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enero View Post
    Of course Kwan would, she was a walking PR manual.
    This is mostly true with a few exceptions. I've seen haters foam at the mouth during the rare occurrence that michelle would do the "thumbs down" gesture if she got marks she felt were too low. and then she dumped frank carroll in 2002...and of course the 2006 olympics controversy...which was the worst by far... there were a lot of hateful messages both in the press and by the public sent her way during that year but she survived it

  13. #293

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    You're kind of missing my point. If people think of Michelle as just "Asian", they are not going to link her with Chinese human rights violations, because they're not specifically thinking of her as Chinese. And knowledge of Chinese human rights violations, or protesting against them, is still pretty minimal in the US as far as I can tell. If there are protests/boycotts/whatever, I think a skater is pretty far down on the list of potential targets.

    And I think Kristi's problem was more that advertisers didn't think she looked "American" (not saying that I agree with that), not that there was this huge backlash against Japan that she would be associated with.
    Michelle's people also learned a valuable lesson from the treatment of Kristi. Michelle's heritage was rarely discussed except to say that she came from an immigrant family. She was introduced as America's own... They did all they could to make her appear American.

    Tara does/did look Middle American, but the problem with that theory is that she wasn't totally relatable. Michelle had a story of struggle as far as money was concerned. There were visuals there...she and her sister wearing tights with holes in them. The girls and Danny staying in a small cabin to allow them to train with Frank and traveling hours each week. The stories that Danny told Karen and Michelle that they couldn't afford a coach any longer and they would have to coach themselves.

    Perceptions of Tara...whether true or fair...were that she came from a family who could more than afford to pay what it costs to make her skating dream come true. People resent that in any athlete, actress, or whatever. They like the stories of overcoming things and the stories of how said athlete became a better person through hard work. Tara might have worked just as hard or harder than any other skater in 1998, but she didn't get that perception out there.

    For a more recent example, look at Evan Lysacek. He doesn't have a hard luck story either. He is as Middle America as they come too. But his coaches, handlers, and even his own parents all spoke from the same talking points. The message was that he might not been the most naturally gifted, but he is the hardest worker. He's on the ice ____ hours a day. He gets there before anyone else and leaves after everyone else. People can relate to that because that is something they can do. They see themselves being able to achieve something great because they put in the time and hours.

    That's why I still maintain that Tara's team let her down with the media and not the other way around. Billing her as the youngest champion was good for about one press release. After that it becomes a phrase and not the subject. What did they expect? Yearly press coverage that she's still the youngest ever? Media people are now people. They are visual people.

    The casual viewer of the Olympics likes to see the team spirit. Surveys and focus groups have shown that people like to see team members of any sport rooting for each other. No, Tara didn't have to acknowledge Michelle. She didn't even have to like her, but she has to pay the price of that. Just like with saying no comment to the media, it often makes things worse to just avoid the topic. Reporters and people in general are going to speculate as to why you don't talk about a competitor. Maybe she had a good reason for it, but leaving it up in the air just caused more speculation and made her seem even more like a spoiled brat. Perception can be false, but it is often believed before digging for the truth.

  14. #294

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bostonfan View Post
    I remember quite clearly in the build-up to Lillihamer the story of her being orphaned and taken under the wing of Galina and Victor. She was also (at the time) the youngest champion. Then she had the collision with another skater during the Olympic warm-up. All of it played up by the media at those Games that were hungry for compelling stories. She was able to ride that wave of sentiment for awhile after that win. But the question is what if she were just a nice, young skater that came from a solid background with no money issues, and no trauma? Would she have won so many hearts right off the bat in her eligible career? Or would her star have faded much like Sarah's did in the season immediately following the Olmypics?

    I'm not agreeing with those that say a compelling backstory is necessary to achieve a certain degree of attention in this sport. I'm merely theorizing about one specific case where such a compelling backstory may have helped a skater more than if she didn't have one.
    I think the backstory may have helped Oksana because Nancy also had one (even before the whack). There may have been a lot more outrage over the results if it were not for the publicity war of "orphaned Oksana" vs. "Nancy and her poor but supportive family", making it harder for any but die-hard skating fans to discuss technical issues like jump combinations without sounding like they are "picking" on poor Oksana.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtisticFan View Post
    For a more recent example, look at Evan Lysacek. He doesn't have a hard luck story either. He is as Middle America as they come too. But his coaches, handlers, and even his own parents all spoke from the same talking points. The message was that he might not been the most naturally gifted, but he is the hardest worker. He's on the ice ____ hours a day. He gets there before anyone else and leaves after everyone else. People can relate to that because that is something they can do. They see themselves being able to achieve something great because they put in the time and hours.
    To tell you the truth, I don't really think you can really compare the packaging and coverage of any US skater today with that of Kwan or Lipinski. Figure skating was much more popular in 1998 then in 2010 and top skaters recieved considerably more press. Today you have to work much harder to be a skating fan so there are far fewer people who follow it casually. In 97/98, just about everybody had heard of Tara and Kwan. I remember a few girls in my high school who had no real interest in the sport of figure skating itself knew who she was from the media coverage she got during the year leading up to the Olympics and claimed they couldn't stand her. I remember how excited they were the next day at school after Tara fell during her short program at Nationals. Tara and Michelle recieved so much coverage that year that it was hard NOT to know who they were. Evan won the world championships the year before the Olympics just like Tara did but nobody other than skating fans knew who he was before the pre-Olympic coverage. Who knows what Evan's coverage would have been like had the same opportunities been available today?

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    Quote Originally Posted by iarispiralllyof View Post
    As an Asian-American, most ignorant Americans are more likely to assume most asians they meet are Chinese, rather than anything else.
    Thanks for pointing that out. As a non-Asian-American (and non-American, for that matter) I think a lot of people just have this idea of "Asia" and don't comprehend the differences between Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, or whatever. But it's interesting to know that if they identify some Asian country it would likely be China.
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    Regarding Hughes vs Lipinski...the Hughes in general seemed far more humble in general even though both were very well off. Also-after Sarah won she had the wole "wow she came from nowhere" story (even though that was not really true as she was a rising star and was the reigning world bronze medalist). Sarah played the "WOW I am just so glad to be here" card very well. Reminds me of Taylor Swift-every time she wins an award she accepts it with shock and awe as if she just had NO IDEA it could happen LOL. The public just eats that crap up. Tara and her mom, after she won, went the "No one told me I could do it...well I showed them" kind of route and decided not to acknowledge Michelle after she won when asked. And yes as someone else said-she did not need to or have to but she probably just should have. I mean how hard is it to say "Michelle and I push each other to skate our best and its really fun competing with her" or something like that. Maybe on a regular day its not fun, but Tara had to have thought it was fun after the results of Nagano.
    Last edited by UGG; 08-12-2010 at 10:59 PM.

  18. #298

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    Thanks for pointing that out. As a non-Asian-American (and non-American, for that matter) I think a lot of people just have this idea of "Asia" and don't comprehend the differences between Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, or whatever. But it's interesting to know that if they identify some Asian country it would likely be China.
    Late in my Mom's life, I showed her a magazine ad featuring Michelle. She said, "Oh, that's that little Japanese skater!". As a huge fan of Michelle, I almost flipped my lid. I told her, "No, mother...she is American". She said, "Well, you know what I mean".
    I think one of the reasons it pushed my buttons was because of the 1998 headline: AMERICAN BEATS KWAN.

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    And WHERE did Nicole place in Nagano? And WHERE is she right now? She paid for that attitude. Not immediately, not directly, but it caught up with her, IMO.
    I sympathize with Nicole in that instance. Michelle had a tendency to prattle off a lot of cheeseball platitudes in interviews, and this was a particularly egregious example that deserved an eye roll. Nevertheless, Nicole probably would have refrained if it hadn't been at the end of a grueling competition that Nicole had just lost. I've always felt it is bizarre that this sport forces rival competitors to participate in *joint* press conferences.

    I've seen haters foam at the mouth during the rare occurrence that michelle would do the "thumbs down" gesture if she got marks she felt were too low.
    I don't foam at the mouth, but I did find that incredibly arrogant of her to do. She showed up at the 2002 Olympics with a rehashed SP that featured slow skating, mediocre spins, no triple-triple, and a spiral sequence that that consisted of one really great position and two really half-assed ones. And then she had the nerve to scrunch up her nose and boo her marks, even though the judges put her in first place. That was an ugly moment for Michelle IMO.

  20. #300
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
    I sympathize with Nicole in that instance. Michelle had a tendency to prattle off a lot of cheeseball platitudes in interviews, and this was a particularly egregious example that deserved an eye roll. Nevertheless, Nicole probably would have refrained if it hadn't been at the end of a grueling competition that Nicole had just lost. I've always felt it is bizarre that this sport forces rival competitors to participate in *joint* press conferences.
    I'm not one to persecute Nicole or anything like that over something like rolling her eyes, but it is pretty rude, especially in public. this is besides the point but I don't think there was anything particularly off-putting about Michelle's comment there either to evoke such a response. the music she used was a harp concerto and whether or not you like her the whole routine very much brought to mind clouds, angels, whatever. it wasn't particularly cheezy to me that michelle claimed to be thinking of such images while skating to that piece.

    I don't foam at the mouth, but I did find that incredibly arrogant of her to do. She showed up at the 2002 Olympics with a rehashed SP that featured slow skating, mediocre spins, no triple-triple, and a spiral sequence that that consisted of one really great position and two really half-assed ones. And then she had the nerve to scrunch up her nose and boo her marks, even though the judges put her in first place. That was an ugly moment for Michelle IMO.
    the factors you listed in your critique could really be just a critique of her skating in general, rather than the flaws in that one specific performance. her layback in 02 was actually improved from the one in 98. in 2002 none of the olympic top 4 had a 3-3 in their sp. her real big flaw in there was underrotating the triple flip. her second spiral position was not half-assed, just easy, and in pre-COP to even have one nice spiral position was to be overqualified. she didn't find out she placed first until the end when she reacted with joy.

    the thumbs down gesture arrogant? sure, but pretty tame when you think of the overall big picture. it's funny how different little things affect people in different ways. you for example didn't find nicole's little eye roll gesture to be rude, whereas I didn't find michelle's little thumbs-down gesture to be that big of a deal.
    Last edited by iarispiralllyof; 08-13-2010 at 01:27 AM.

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