Baffoe: Schadenfreude Is Drawing Me To Watch The Olympics
By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) — No lie — I was literally planning on making a joke at some point, as I started writing a different column, about how I hoped a cute stray dog would somehow wander into the Opening Ceremonies Friday night in Sochi, Russia. Then some wacky hijinks would ensue, and I’d giggle, and Vladimir Putin would have that same KGB-trained expression he always has so that you never know if he’s happy or planning a poisoning.
Exactly as I was crafting what totally would have had you laughing aloud at the office (totally), though, a stray dog got onto the cross-country skiing course in Sochi and ruined my joke. I got so mad I could’ve shot something. But then I watched that clip a few more times and ended up having a good laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
And that’s Sochi, isn’t it? Just one silly chuckle-provoking mishap and slapstick fiasco after another. It’s not very humorous for those involved, of course. The International Olympic Committee, the Russian government and planners, the media, and the athletes cannot be happy about this being the Cleveland Browns of sort-of-amateur international sport.
But I’m not there. You’d think with the potential for awfulness even way before we started seeing the fustercluckery trickle across the internet on an almost hourly basis in a country that screams fustercluckery (and in Russian it sounds even more metallic to the ears) that 670TheScore.com would have shipped me over there to sleep in a hollowed out bear that I had to kill with a vodka bottle and to write about skeleton, but even I am not that much of a Russian stray dog to CBS. And since I’m all cozied up here in balmy Chicago, I can laugh at all the misfortune occurring over there because, like somebody falling down some stairs, it’s funny because it’s not happening to me.
Plus, I’m not into the Olympics to begin with, and when I’m on the outside of something big in pop culture, I thoroughly enjoy when it turns bad. Like Justin Bieber being arrested or people slowly figuring out Mumford and Sons has just one song.
So I hadn’t planned on consuming anything Olympic other than what was unavoidable when surfing channels or the internet. But now that so many laughs are involved, I might have to take this all in just for the comedic potential. Schadenfreude attracts me like a moth to an Olympic flame… which went out 44 times on its way to Sochi.
How can I not point and laugh at what has a good chance at continuing from all the following:
- Sochi is the Russian equivalent of Charleston, South Carolina. And not just with each’s remnants of slavery.
- Hotels are lacking running and/or not poisonous water, wifi service, and doorknobs.
- Even though this Olympics will cost more than every Winter Games since 1924 combined.
- There is probably lots of Chuck Berry music, though, because the Russians are apparently big fans.
- The cultural center is covered by a tarp, which is a metaphor that would make Dostoyevsky jealous.
- Zdeno Chara’s almost-bed!
- Toilet mishaps and issues galore.
- One of Russia’s greatest living minds cannot stop hating on the despicable marriage between two giant, evil groups.
- Some of the events just have to be filmed on dashcam, right?
- The moguls hill is made of human skulls.
- Twitter is going to extra ruin the futile attempt at avoiding hearing about what happened at the Olympics ten hours before it airs and Russia’s futile attempt to not be further embarrassed by their own Animal Farming of the Games. Good, because those people you work with who are like, “AH, DON’T GIVE ME ANY OLYMPIC UPDATES I WANT TO BE SURPRISED” are the worst.
- Bob Costas’ magical elfin potions couldn’t protect him from pink eye.
- Executing innocent dogs is bad and not funny on its own, but it does make these Games even more of a Borat sketch than they were before.
- Because before the most backward Third World aspect was the incredibly obtuse and overt homophobia.
And when you mix in a very real threat of terrorism that I guess isn’t as important as the need to know which country is most superior in the fringiest of fringe sportlike events for which we’re supposed to flip on our quadrennial blind jingoistic cheering switch? That primal NASCARian allure of potential maiming or loss of life that no sane person roots for yet draws the eyes subconsciously because we don’t dare risk missing the wreck?
The potential for more and more things hilariously falling apart and starting on fire and melting is just too funny for me to avoid. So, congrats, Sochi. You just may have lured me into watching the Olympics.