February 13, 2010

Notes from the Past

Nothing much ever changes in the Olympics, so I might run some old posts:

How to improve Men's Figure Skating

Watching biathlon, which combines cross country skiing and rifle target shooting, it occurred to me that the way to make men's figure skating a little less twirly is to combine it with that ultimate regular guy sport, paintball. Each competitor would get one shot at the rival of his choice:

Scott Hamilton: "And now Plushenko's going to try his quad toe loop. Here he goes --"

SPLAT

Scott Hamilton: "Johnny Weir has shot Plushenko!"

Dick Button: "Right between the shoulder blades at the top of his jump. Plushenko did a complete face plant in the ice."

Plus, aesthetically speaking, large random splashes of paint could only improve the competitors' costumes.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

28 comments:

RWF said...

Look gay men only have one really, really gay sport in the Olympics*, so why try to butch it up?

* OK they have the opening and closing cermonies too.

Anonymous said...

Not bad Steve but you should leave the jokes to a select few of your readers (mainly me).

Dan in DC

acy said...

That was my first true LOL in months.

Anonymous said...

I saw the pic of Johnny Weir in his fur-rimmed suit, the one PETA got after him for.

As I looked at the picture, I wasn't thinking about the dead animal that added frills to his costume but rather found myself wondering if this Weir is really an XY male.

Look, I like the individual, the pairs, even the ice dancing, but this sport really, really needs some manly men. I look at Weir and see a girl.

Anonymous said...

Shorten the metal skate so it's more like an ice hockey boot, give them boxing gloves and make them fight.

Hockey fightin's already the world's most popular unofficial sport within a sport, although I can't think of another one.

If you don't want to discriminate against gay men then I suggest syncronised five-pair skating within a cylinder-shaped ice tube. That's gayer than cutting your mate's toenails.

RandyB said...

I think they should combine the biathalon with the four-man bobsled. Since the two guys in the middle don't do much, they should be given air guns to pick off targets as they sled by, assigning a time penalty for each one missed.

Glossy said...

Biathlon is not as weird and divorced from reality as some here seem to think. The 1939-1940 Soviet-Finnish War can be thought of as one big biathlon event.

rob said...

What's the worst thing about being an Olympic medalist in Men's Figure Skating?

Telling your dad that you're gay.

Anonymous said...

Biathlon: 22 short? why not spitwads? It would increase the heterosexuality of the sport.

Or, in honor of Jeff Cooper, they could use enough gun- 375 Holland and Holland minimum. Elephants charging on skis for targets.

2 words: Rocket Grenades!

OneSTDV said...

"I look at Weir and see a girl."

If you've heard him speak and seen his general mannerisms, the girlyness gets much more pronounced.

Anonymous said...

Rob said,

"What's the worst thing about being an Olympic medalist in Men's Figure Skating?

Telling your dad that you're gay."


I gather this is true, generally speaking of course, of Western male skaters, but not nearly as true of their Eastern bloc counterparts. Think Russian male skaters of the past, many of them straight, think Russian male ballet stars (like Barishinikov)...then contrast these to their Western counterparts.

It's all cultural. For instance, you ain't no sissy in Italy if you love opera and make it to the big stage. It's Italy's baseball.

Often when Western culture adopts art forms from other cultures, our cultural norms quickly tag them as gay.... and so straight boys stay away.

Scott Hamilton, straight though he is, had health problems as a kid: figure skating met his desire to build himself up physically and fulfilled his need to compete.

Certainly no one can argue the athleticism demanded of figure skaters. It's the costuming and the theatricality of some male performers that seem to bother the American male and yes, even the American female like me. I, for one, loved watching the Russian big guy.

Boitano, in his prime, walked that fine line between being too gay on the ice and being acceptable to the wider American audience. Of course, his interviews left no doubt.

However, I'll take the big Russian, Viktor P. any day.

The Canadian, Elvis Stojko, was an entertaining skater. While his body type, short and stocky, limited him in that he couldn't provide the grace one expects of a skater, he was able to masculinize the sport.

Hmmmmm. Now I am wondering...is Stojko straight?

Anonymous said...

Regarding Weir, One STDV said,

"If you've heard him speak and seen his general mannerisms, the girlyness gets much more pronounced."

Agreed. In body type such as his delicate skeletal structure, he probably reminds most of us of the sickly kid we went to primary school with. At least, I have a childhood classmate that falls into that category. Makes you wonder about that infection hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

Guys, it's okay if you want to have sex with Johnny Weir. He's really quite pretty. No need to dress it up in HBD speculations...

rob said...

It's all cultural. For instance, you ain't no sissy in Italy if you love opera and make it to the big stage. It's Italy's baseball.

I'll give you largely cultural. Furriners play rugby, but Americans don't think it's faggy. Ballet dancers dance with chicks, but wrestlers roll around on the ground with dudes. Which one's gay?

Figure skaters and male dancers probably seem gayer than are. Since the fields are mostly female, they spend lots of time around women and girls, so straight boys probably pick up effeminate mannerisms.

Do male gymnasts have a reputation for being gay? It seems that they "should" be gayer than average, but they don't seem very gay.

Now diving, male divers totally outgay figure skaters. Since they don't even get fabulous outfits, that's rather impressive.

Anonymous said...

How to improve men's skating?

Well, it's primarily a sport for women and gay men. Straight men will never switch over from ESPN to men's figure skating, so focus on reaching out to expand the core demographic using a proven vehicle.

Add several reality TV series lead-in to the Olympics on the audience demographic channels. Bravo could focus on costume design, music and choreography. The Lifetime Network could do the human interest angle, personal histories, families, friends, etc. The Logo Channel could do a Jersey Shore-type show highlighting the abfabulous lifestyles of these sport celebrities.

Anonymous said...

Ballet dancers dance with chicks, but wrestlers roll around on the ground with dudes. Which one's gay?

Wrestling is one of the best foundation today for MMA (caged/ultimate fighting) where fighters of all disciplines also frequently roll around on the ground with dudes. The PC always try to make everything homoerotic like you did.

In real life, mano a mano fights are not toe to toe slugfests like the artifice of boxing or Hollywood movies (Fightclub, kung fu flicks). They are usually the sizing up and intimidation stare, one glancing punch, and a clinch often ending on the ground with rabbit punches or a submission hold. Anyone who thinks wrestling (or MMA) is gay has not mixed it up in real life, has been beating on drunks, or lacks the all-out aggressive fight instinct.

After I mellowed out, I also took up ballet for a short while as the end stage interest in dance and really enjoyed it. It's exacting, physical and the most demanding dance form. Ballet is also disproportionally filled with well-educated, well-bred beautiful and feminine women with few men who are overwhelming gay.

The motivation and spirit behind wrestling and ballet are on opposite ends of the straight-gay spectrum. You're observations about the nature of wrestling and ballet as an outsider are the opposite of the internal drives of participants.

albertosaurus said...

As far as I can determine there are only two plausible theories that account for male homosexuality - infection and chimerism. No sensible person can believe in any of the cryto-Freudian child raising theories or the genetic mutation theories. So unless there is some as arcane cause for gayness that has never before been conceived of in all of human history, it is a disease.

When you accept, as I believe you must, that male homosexuality is a disease you begin to change your politics. Focusing on Johnny Weir seems in bad taste. It is rather like making jokes about how the Cerebral Palsy kids look when they run in the Special Olympics.

Male homosexuality is the disease that promotes other diseases. We can't cure or prevent the sexual preference disease as yet, but we can mitigate the many venereal diseases that gay men are subject to.

That's why I favor gay marriage. Marriage as an institution promotes long term fidelity and suppresses promiscuity - this is good. Promiscuity kills.

albertosaurus said...

I think you should recycle some of your old writings. Mark Steyn routinely publishes old columns. It works for him. It could work for you.

Anonymous said...

Saw Dick Button last night, first time in years. He was in the studio with Costas as a guest commentator.

I do miss him as a skating announcer--his breathlessness over great performances, his snittiness when he felt performers were giving less than their best, his snark directed at judges, his overall hissiness. I might have laughed AT him at times, but I did enjoy his comments.

Anyway, thought he looked great and knowing he had to be up there, I did a little digging on Wiki to see just how old he is-80. I must say, he's a very young-looking 80. He was, of course, sitting down, so I've no idea how agile or active he is.

Was surprised to read that in '75 he got married to a former skater turned coach, but the married lastly only briefly (not surprised).

I also recalled vaguely that he'd had some serious accident or some such thing years ago. According to Wiki he was mugged, beaten very badly by a gang while jogging in Central Park in 1975; then in 2000, while skating at a public rink, he fell, fractured his skull and suffered a serious brain injury.

I was struck, in listening to him talk with Costas, how he sounded, not fem. Of course, the conversation didn't last all that long, but he didn't sound as he did when he was announcing.

Call me crazy, but it made me think of a few of the gay men I have worked with over the decades of our careers. Unless I am just imagining it, they too seem much less fem in their intonation and articulation patterns and in their mannerisms than when they were much younger.

I gave consideration to this--could it be I am just used to their speech or that my memory has failed me? I decided "No." I really do think their speech and mannerisms are quite different from years ago.

It made me wonder if what we associate as rather feminine speech patterns and body gestures of many gay men really are affectations of youth which often fade with age. Kind of the gay equivalent of peacock behavior maybe?

Do straight men's speech/mannerisms change over adulthood with age? There is no doubt that American junior high age males walk a certain way, talk a certain way and those behaviors have change by the time they are well into adulthood, but I can't say that I notice a change in such behaviors between, say, their 30s and their 50s or 60s.

Just an observation--I could be all wet. Any thoughts?

Steve Sailer said...

Yeah, old sports announcers, like Dick Button (winner of the 1948 skating gold medal), are pretty interesting. Every summer in LA, you can turn on the radio and listen to Vin Scully, who has been broadcasting the Dodgers since before Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard Round the World beat them in 1951.

Interesting speculation about Button sounding straighter than in his prime. The Valley Girl accent is an affectation that lasts from about 12 to 22. Perhaps it, like the gay fabulous accent, just requires more energy than an octogenarian can muster?

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps it, like the gay fabulous accent, just requires more energy than an octogenarian can muster?"

You know, I never considered that... the energy aspect required, that is. You could be right.

I have always loved watching people's gaits. When I was a about 11/12 around 6th/7th grades, I noticed my male classmates had adopted a new way of walking. I promptly tagged it the "toe bounce." With each step, they bounced high on their toes. They were imitating the guys in high school. (In those days at my junior high and high school, the cool shoes were black Converse low cuts. The guys who couldn't afford them, like my boyfriend, wore the JC Penny knock offs.)

The toe bounce was not limited to guys in my community either. Wherever I went, I observed the same phenomenon. That particular gait seemed to persist for most guys (cool guys, anyway) through high school and perhaps up to about 20 or maybe even a year or two beyond that.

When I became a teacher, I noticed the same thing, among white male students anyway. When our school's demographics changed, I noticed that the urban blacks that had moved in didn't do the toe bounce, not most of them. Their baggy pants didn't allow it, I suppose, and besides, their signature cool was conveyed through the slooooowww, lethargic scud of their gait.

The toe bounce does still live, however.

rob said...

An anon said,
I noticed that the urban blacks that had moved in didn't do the toe bounce, not most of them. Their baggy pants didn't...

I've wondered about the origins of the 'pimp roll'/'pimp limp.' Why do black guys like to pretend that they're cripples?

Anonymous said...

"When you accept, as I believe you must, that male homosexuality is a disease you begin to change your politics. Focusing on Johnny Weir seems in bad taste. It is rather like making jokes about how the Cerebral Palsy kids look when they run in the Special Olympics."

I happen to buy Cochran's hypothesis as the most likely explanation, but the cause is totally irrelevant to the dissing of Weir.

For God sake's, women don't dress and act the way he does.

While I don't think Johnny has chosen to be heterosexual or chosen to be homosexual, I *do* know that he has a choice about what skating costumes show good taste and which are simply silly; similarly, I know he has a choice as to whether he talks with affectation and w/out affectation.

Since those things involve his choices, I find myself quite justified in either praising those choices or mocking them.

Hell, I mock gang bangers and all those silly guys with baggy pants and tatoos--same thing.

Harvey Milk said...

That's why I favor gay marriage. Marriage as an institution promotes long term fidelity and suppresses promiscuity - this is good. Promiscuity kills.

That's a noble but naive thought. One can support gay marriage for a number of reasons, the most logical is to make a statement and norm gay lifestyles.

Marriage is not going to change the gay community, but the gay community can change the concept of marriage.

Anonymous said...

How to improve men's figure skating: More women. Establish a minimum cup size and do away with the "flesh colored panels" in favor of real flesh. Deep cleavage and, finally, pre-planned Wardrobe malfunctions.

Other than that, I would suggest not televising it. Gay whould be kept in the closet.

Anonymous said...

"As far as I can determine there are only two plausible theories that account for male homosexuality - infection and chimerism."

What about hormonal imbalances in the womb? That has some support, I believe, and doesn't fly in the face of natural selection.

Frankly, I'm disturbed by the idea that I'm gay because I cannibalized my dead fetal twin.

Anonymous said...

"similarly, I know he has a choice as to whether he talks with affectation and w/out affectation."

Yes, but what if the affectation is just how he speaks normally? A lot of gay men "butch it up" in their mannerisms and speech until they come out, then they relax and are themselves. Yes, Weird could choose to act or speak butcher, but it would/does take a constant self-monitoring.

Anonymous said...

How to improve men's figure skating or at least how to improve it so that it can appeal to a wider audience?

As far as ""competition goes? Ban men from wearing anything other than tux-approximating attire (or at least no one body outfit) and limit the colors men can wear to black, white, or a combo of the two.

The costumes themselves are enough to detract from the skater himself--colorful swirls of sequins, one piece tight fitting skins, ....feathers, for God's sakes. Yeah, that Evan guy, the American in a close second place going into tonight's finals, had long feathers protruding from the wrist portions of his costume (a great bird suggestion, I guess? ); Weir had a costume that laced up what was the suggestion of a chest) and his back, with his pink feather bouncing and flouncing on his shoulder with every jump and spin....very unattractive and very distracting.

The thing is, the costumes of the men and sometimes even the costumes of the women simply detract from the skating performances which, I suspect, might be their purpose.

Ironically enough, Weir skated one of his better performances, but his costume detracted from the skating rather than complementing it or just the hell getting out of the way of it.

Over the decades, the costuming has tended to cover for some pretty ordinary skating skills just as the triples and the quads have.

The Russian in first place had a sequined costume that also was distracting, and I agree with Button who said that while the Russian skater is top-notch in his jumps, he lacks a certain style and grace that one expects to see in a top performer, hands flailing all over the place.

Bottom line--want to have an immediate impact on the viewer's perception of the men who skate? Adopt rules for attire. The costumes shouldn't be distractions and as such would lend the male skaters a more masculine persona.

There's a world of professional skating opportunities that awaits these skaters, touring companies that will give them all kinds of opportunities to dress in costumes and be the entertainers many of wish to be. They can wait until they turn pro, where the skating itself is expected to be subordinate to the skating and where the the overall big show and spectacle is the thing.

Knowing we had been discussing this, I asked my husband to sit down with me and watch all the men's performances. He did, and when it was all over, and I asked him what he thought, he said, "Well, I admire the physical stamina and skill that their skating requires, but there's no way I enjoy watching some of the guys that look like that and wear make-up like that."