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Sell-out: Marketing Games

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

IOC, VANOC, and similar “death panels” realize the utility of marketing campaigns in convincing complacent populations that their causes are intertwined with those of the social body.

Recently, in Guadalajara, Mexico we saw the City of Toronto win the bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games. If you saw the announcement made on television you would have witnessed an ecstatic bunch dressed in swanky business attire, surrounded by traditionally-clad crimson Mounties, celebrate with glee, as if they had indeed won their own gold medal.
The politicians celebrated the new facilities, jobs, and tourist dollars that would accompany the Games, specifically acknowledging Toronto’s multiculturalism and diversity as the main selling points for winning the bid.
Indeed, the winning bid was attributed to the city’s diverse population, with half of the population being born outside of Canada. Toronto had tried this ploy of selling diversity at an earlier Olympic bid and had been denied.

We also see similar tactics surrounding other massive international spectacles which are continuously being criticized as benefiting a small minority while causing great environmental and social destruction in the cities and regions that they invade.
The upcoming 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver are championed as being “green”, while also being the first socially responsible Olympics.
The rising rates and criminalization of homelessness, rising public debt, suspension of civil liberties, and accompanying theft and destruction of native lands are only a few examples which have served to debunk the myths of environmentalism and social responsibility that supposedly accompany the upcoming 2010 Games.

The media is instrumental in perpetuating these myths. The local and national corporate media outlets put a heavy spin on the benefits the Games supposedly bring, while downplaying the negative implications. These networks collect millions in advertising revenue dollars and their “reporting” reflects this. These networks are working to deceive the public with their mistruths, and they do a decent job, as was seen in the bastardization of the demonstrations surrounding the launching of the torch relay in Victoria, in which agents provocateurs have been accused of facilitating the “marble incident”.

Therefore, it is easy to put a positive spin on international events like the Olympics, using selling points surrounding an international communal spirit, diversity, green-friendly, socially responsible, etc. However, these points do not hold up to scrutiny. Yes, Toronto is diverse, but poverty-stricken neighbourhoods are not going to benefit from these large events. If anything, those living in poverty are more likely to suffer from police surveillance and harassment, gentrification, and social cleansing. Likewise, in Vancouver et environs, the destruction of Eagleridge Bluffs and subsequent incarceration and death of elder Harriet Nahanee, and the repressive legislation involving imprisoning the homeless in and around Olympic venues, the sign laws, and legislating BC paramedics back to work, tells a different story of social responsibility. What it does portray is that a broad array of social groups have a common struggle in opposing the Olympics.

Neoliberal capitalism, with its unfettering global campaign of privatization, deregulation, and commodification, has demonstrated to us that we shouldn’t at all be surprised about the marketing ploys used to implement new opportunities for profits. However, as income gaps increase between rich and poor, the trickle-down theory that supports these ventures is not holding up. Very few benefit while the vast majority suffer, or at a minimum, are inconvenienced (right Van-city motorists?).

Social ideals are marketed, sold, and reinforced by big business, politicians, and their media lackeys surrounding massive international sporting spectacles. How long do you think you can continue to commodify populations, commodify the environment, hijack social causes, and champion diversity for your own financial gain while the masses suffer, the social welfare state erodes, and poverty deepens? Your methods are unsustainable, and with them your life expectancy shortens. Sell-out.

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acrosby (Andy Crosby)
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