Now that we’re no longer inundated with the minute-by-minute updates from London—newsflashes brought to you by Coke and McDonalds—it’s time to take part in Ye Olde Olympic retrospective and for me to confess the following: My name is Meg. I am a feminist. But I also love the Olympics. That said, I am highly, highly critical of the corporate ethos that governs not just the Games’ infrastructure, but also how the labour of amateur athletes is discussed and constructed.
Really though, there is much to learn from the Olympics. In fact, the Olympics provides us with a perfect snapshot of hypercapitalism. Hypercapitalism is, in brief, extreme capitalism at the expense of traditional values. What exactly ‘traditional values’ implies is anyone’s guess.
My personal interpretation of hypercapitalism as it relates to the Olympics is extreme capitalism projected as [fictitious] ‘unity’ and ‘oneness’ that is, in reality, founded on exploitation: of the environment; of labour (I’m including behind-the-scenes media workers, athletes, and low-wage service workers that make the Olympics hum along in host cities); and colonialism, since more often than not Olympics are held in settler states or nations that are directly benefiting from ongoing colonization.
There’s tons to talk about and I’m only scratching the surface in this post. You could spend several posts dissecting sexist and racist media coverage, so I’m going to focus on a few instances that struck a chord with me.