NBC Cuts Akram Khan Olympic Performance: a Mistake, ‘#Epicfail’ by US Media
Who knows why NBC chose to cut this deeply moving dance performance - choreographed by Akram Khan, MBE, and directed by Farooq Chaudhry to honor the lives lost in the July 7th, 2005 terrorist attack in London. Instead, NBC showed an interview with Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps. Really?!
What could possibly be the rationale for denying U.S. viewers the opportunity to join with the rest of the world in witnessing the power of this beautiful performance related to a cause to which so many U.S. resources and lives have been sacrificed (fighting terrorism), with yet another Michael Phelps interview? Hardly seems an equal exchange.
Odd that a country leading the war on terror would miss such an opportunity, and particularly when those attacks took place in the land with which the U.S. shares a ‘very special relationship.’
If the 2004 Olympic Games were held in the U.S., we would have been right to honor the victims of 9/11 during the opening ceremonies. What ‘friend of the U.S.’ would have cut that part out of their airing of the ceremonies? It’s hard to imagine; certainly not without a very audible outcry throughout the U.S. in response, with U.S. media leading the charge!
(Editor’s Note: You can watch the video at Deadspin.com)
Odd, too, that the U.S. would miss a chance to include itself among the global community in witnessing this performance, rather than setting itself apart, again, to focus on itself, again.
What loss would U.S. viewers have suffered by being one less of a Michael Phelps interview? Not showing this performance, given the opportunity it presented to provide those in the U.S. with new & different connections to, as well as images and understandings of, people of Middle Eastern descent, was a mistake. While we say that winning hearts and minds is key to winning the war on terror, surely we know that the hearts and minds to be won are not just ‘over there?’
Furthermore, given the U.S.’ own history and ongoing struggles with race, it is truly sad U.S. viewers were not allowed the deeper exposure to the diversity of the African diapsora offered by the gifted voice of Emile Sande, a woman of Zambian and Scottish heritage, who sang ‘Abide With Me’ so beautifully and to which the performance was so powerfully danced.
Without any significant participation, on a global scale, in the world’s most popular sport, football (soccer), the Olympic Games is the rare opportunity that only comes about every 4 years for the U.S. to get out of its myopic view of itself and its self-described greatness and become a part of the rest of the world on equal footing.
Both the games and its opening ceremonies are opportunities for those in the U.S. to be exposed to and develop a deeper, richer and more meaningful understanding of people and nations from all over the world; as well as the reality of our connections rather than a constant focus on our differences (real or perceived).
NBC did a great disservice to its U.S. viewers by not allowing us the opportunity to be enriched by this performance and, in so doing, promoted the notion, yet again, that, even within a global arena, the U.S. is primarily concerned with itself.
NBC also did disservice to the ideal of our ‘very special relationship’ with Great Britain, by not joining with the rest of the world to witness and honor the sacrifices they have also suffered due to terrorism. These are sorely missed opportunities, on many levels; opportunities this country is in desperate need of in order to develop a true understanding of the world we are a part of, as well as a realistic understanding of our part in the world.
Akram Khan, MBE, one of the most acclaimed choreographers in the world today, is not the only one disheartened and disappointed by NBCs cutting of his performance. I wonder how many in the U.S. realize they should be too?