Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Here is Nastia Liukin reading some awkwardly written prose in a digitally altered voice. I feel I should apologize for my extremely cynical tone, but I have such an instantaneous reaction of dislike towards these things.

This clip suffers with the same chronic dishonesty as many modern day commercials.It is advertising that tries to pretend it is about more than it actually is: the pretence of having any of the truth, feelings and permanence of real art. The reminiscent music, the childlike tone of her voice, the vulnerability of being the lone figure in a lofty gym and those big sad eyes. Even the clothes she wears make a statement - she is simply in comfortable gym shorts and not a competition leotard, which removes the glitz of the performance from the sport and hints at a very non-glamorous ongoing graft.

But the product is so painfully transparent. The words are simply that: WORDS. They convey very little meaning and no passion: like everything they might of meant has been hollowed out in some shiny recording studio. You have to wonder whether Nastia was simply handed these sentences, perhaps on some thick high-quality printer paper by some advertizing exec at NBC, during a three minute window in between visits to Forever 21. "Sound emotional", he may have said.

But the thing that confuses me is that live sport is blind to all of this! Live gymnastics broadcasts cast away the misery of the grind of training and give an exciting, colourful and bright view of the sport. I am not sure that, even if the tone they were clearly trying for had succeeded, it would ever be an incentive to watch the new channel. I can see how some people might feel that it suggests Liukin is poised like a crouched tiger for competition, which would be quite exciting. To me though it just feels like I am supposed to feel sorry for her: as if by watching the channel I would be keeping her company in this lonely, grainy world of perpetual backhandsprings.

This mustn't be mistaken for a big old pop at Nastia - I am right behind her again. After all, why wouldn't she accept the money and the publicity if approached and propositioned? I probably would. This is more a stab at the entire brand of Olympics fluffing. In fairness Nastia is not the only one doing the rounds, Lauren Mitchell has her very own sepia beamy snoozefest too, complete with a gross looking front walk over.

I appreciate this is a large overreaction to what is a fairly inoffensive piece of video, but I find the whole thing I bit emotionally manipulative.

As usual I would love to hear other opinions on this topic. 


  1. I think the Nastia commercial would have been better without her lines. The copy is bad and the delivery is whiny and creepy.

    "Before you're in alee athlee, you're a lil girl."

    They should've stuck to the voiceover guy, or even had just the music in the beginning.

  2. I like Nastia. But she's not at all well spoken compared with Shawn, or even Lauren.

  3. It's particularly creepy because she is 22. It's one thing when they fluff up people like DMoceanu pre-1996 (urgh the early 90s fluff), or even Shawn in 07 as little girls, this just seems really weird. And actually, what's with gymnastics and the whole "little girls" thing. Very melodramatic.

    I guess to the general public, a front aerials, back handsprings are impressive enough. No point making more complicated, messy, harder skills. Sad, but true. Though.. front aerials are never really aesthetically pleasing in slow mo (or photos), not enough back flexibility I think.

  4. I'm glad it isn't just me that got creeped out by this!

    I think her age definitely contributes to this. I think whoever wrote the lines wrote them with too young a person in mind - exactly Like Moceanu as has been said. I have a general dislike for all brands of advertising like this but I do admit it would have worked better if the gymnast was younger. I just can never get used to the insincerity of these things - the canned emotion.

    Yeah I do see why they chose the skills they did, and why Nastia was approached for this job (I guess if it is an advert for a whole channel watched by people that perhaps only tune into a bit of gymnastics every 4 years then the last face they would recognize would probably be Nastia).