NBC has been running into a lot of problems over its Olympics coverage, and now the network might have another controversy on its hands.
Before transitioning into a commercial break while airing the Olympics, sportscaster Bob Costas said, “There are some young African-American girls out there who, tonight, are saying to themselves, ‘Hey, I’d like to try that too.’” Behind Costas was a photo of Gabby Douglas, who became the first African-American to win the gold in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition.
After the transition was a commercial of a chapuin monkey named Crystal on the rings. It was a promotion for a new NBC show called “Animal Practice,” but some people didn’t see it that way. Angry viewers lashed out against on NBC on Twitter, saying they were disgusted that the network would air the ad right after Douglas won her gold medal.
Bigots have long associated African-Americans with monkeys and apes, and so airing an ad with a monkey directly after talking about an African-American athlete struck many viewers as blatantly racist. But the better question is, was it intentional?
NBC has been airing the ad throughout the Olympics, and no one seemed to have a problem with it until now. But considering the network has been tape-delaying its coverage, it is possible that a different commercial could have been used to follow the Gabby Douglas segment.
The 16-year-old Douglas has already had her fair share of negativity thrown her way, despite her accomplishment. Social media users have expressed outrage over her hair, saying that it should have been styled differently instead of with pins and gel. It was even a front page story on Yahoo News.
Despite the fact that the rings are a men’s event, and the fact that the commercial has been playing nonstop throughout the Games, airing it against positive coverage of Gabby Douglas still seems like a bad move. But it is more likely that the ad was just bad timing on NBC’s part, and not a deliberate attempt to be racist.
NBC says they meant no offense by the ad, and had placed it before they knew about Bob Costas’ commentary.
What do you think of NBC’s ad placement?