Media Events

Topics: Olympic Games, Summer Olympic Games, 2008 Summer Olympics Pages: 6 (2328 words) Published: October 10, 2012
The Olympics, occurring every four years, is a sporting event in which countries who have qualified are able to compete against each other in a range of events. This paper concerns the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, a theatrical and musical show to celebrate the initiation of the competition. The purpose of this essay is to explore the global significance of this event using ‘media events’ theory. In order to do this it is first necessary to define the nature of a ‘media event’ and discuss in what way the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony fits into this classification. It will be shown that, although this event is intended to be as such, the changing nature of technology and global communications has heavily impacted its viewership and thus its significance. In addition that issue of propaganda and nationalism arguably come into play due to its scripted nature. And that moreover the tradition of media events has become progressively redundant through changing desires of audiences and increasingly cynical views toward large organizations and government. It is important to clarify at this point that the Opening Ceremony is part of the Olympic Games as and as such cannot be explored as entirely separate. It was perhaps the advance of radio and satellite technology itself that contributed to the inception of the “media event”, as Dayan and Katz state; it was a “new narrative genre that employs the unique potential of the electronic media to command attention universally and simultaneously in order to tell a primordial story about current affairs (1994:1). Media events are characterized by their call to audiences to “stop their daily routines” and participate in the viewership of a televised events (1994:1). It is paramount to understand that media events are rare and in particular, a deviation from the “everyday”, “they are interruptions of routine; they intervene in the normal flow of broadcasting and our lives” (Dayan and Katz, 1994:5). In addition such events are planned beforehand and are typically ceremonious or staged- for example funerals of public figures or electoral debates. Moreover these planned, and often extravagant, affairs occur in a remote location, in other words away from a broadcasting set or studio (Dayan and Katz, 1994:5). Another important distinction concerning media events is that they are broadcast live to the audience (Dayan and Katz, 1994:5). To further understand the nature and significance of media events it is necessary to explore more in-depth classification. Dayan and Katz assert that there exist three types of media event “scripts” – coronation, contest and conquest (1992, as cited by Evans, 2010:310). For the purpose of this essay and the discussion of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony only the “coronation” classification will be discussed. The London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony may be called a “coronation” media event for a number of reasons. At its core it is ceremonial in nature as the event revolves around lighting the Olympic Torch which signals the beginning of the sporting games. Furthermore, the athletes, coaches and judges, who are also part of the ceremony, all partake in their official Olympic oath that encourages sportsmanship, fairness and co-operation. The oath is viewed and witnessed by the mass public and televised casting it in an official and prestigious light. The theatrics and celebrations surrounding this denote the intended importance of the event what with their large-scale extravagance and expense. In addition the celebratory nature of the ceremony commemorates the actual even of the games- specifically of the 2012 Olympics. The purpose of a media event, particularly one of this nature, is not to criticize but rather to follow the “script” that the organizers- typically a large institution of governmental body. As Katz and Dayan state, “It upholds the definition of the event by its organizers, explains the meaning of symbols of the occasion,...

Bibliography: Evans, M(2010) 'Mandela and the televised birth of the rainbow nation ', National Identities, 12: 3, 309 — 326
Dayan, D and Katz, E (1994). Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History. Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London: Harvard University Press. 1-24.
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Katz, E. (1996). Deliver Us From Segmentation. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 546, 22-33.
Katz, E and Liebes, T. (2007). ‘No More Peace!’: How Disaster, Terror and War Have Upstaged Media Events. International Journal of Communication. 1, 157-166.
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Porter, H, ‘The Olympic Opening Ceremonies: Danny Boyle Explains Britain to the World, and to Itself’, Vanity Fair Daily, 28 June 2012, accessed September 24 2012, <>
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