By Michael Johnson on 8.17.12 @ 6:06AM
The sexual undertones of the Olympics are now so blatant that some viewers don't care who wins -- they just stare.
Okay, we all know that the London Olympics were successful and full of great surprises. Good for the winners, bad for the losers. But toward the end, it was getting more and more difficult to concentrate on fractions of seconds or bits of centimeters. Official swimsuits and track garb have shrunk below bikini size and were enough to set public fantasies racing.
This was possibly the sexiest Olympics yet, flesh everywhere and proud of it -- the best legal turn-on since the tutu hit the Royal Ballet.
I watched the whole show on French television where coverage was focused on events the French had a chance of winning. We probably got a larger dose of the fleshmarket than American viewers. I have heard very little criticism of the erotic undertones, but then we have a habit of saying one thing and thinking another.
I know grown men and a few women who sat in the privacy of their living rooms watching the competitions and let their minds roam as the athletes strutted their well-toned bodies in public. The swimmers stripped off ostentatiously and we wondered where they would stop. The public rinsing was even more provocative. Our eyes took in the women's six-packs, the men's muscle definition and the very skimpy and stretchy national running suits wrapped around the gorgeous blondes of East Europe, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. They almost never won except in men's minds. And those synchronized divers -- were they wearing thongs? Something very close to that.
Nothing beat the high jump in which girls landed on their necks and did a slow roll backwards. The camera innocently followed every second, then reran it in slow motion.
The women viewers got their share, too. A single mother of my acquaintance says she was caught staring at Trey Hardee, the 6-foot-5 U.S. decathlon competitor, as he limbered up for a run. Her 9-year-old son said, "Mom, why are you looking at him like that?"
Another woman friend admitted to me, "I couldn't take my eyes off this show. I didn't even care who won."
One office worker tells of watching a colleague stare transfixed at the television in the company cafeteria. It was a women's beach volleyball match and his mouth was hanging open. "He couldn't have been that interested in the score -- they weren't even Americans," she said. She looked in on him out 20 minutes later and he hadn't budged. He never got around to his lunch.
British sprinter Linford Christie seems to have started the overt sexual strutting when in the 1992 Olympics he ran the 100 meters in Lycra shorts. The Sun newspaper in London immortalized the sight as "Linford's lunchbox." Ever since, suits have gotten steadily tighter and skimpier.
One has to pity the poor men from the Middle East who rarely see more than an ankle or a wrist. They must have been cross-eyed with frustration. Now they are starting to send their women into competition, albeit wearing ample cover, at least for now.
Where is this leading? We will find out when Brazil hosts the games. They are miles ahead of us. They invented the string bikini. The Gillette women's Venus razor ("Reveal the goddess in you") should do very well in 2016.