NEWS

Olympics chief rebuffs lewd claims

By Karolos Grohmann - Reuters

A clutch of complaints by US viewers that the Athens Olympics opening ceremony featured lewd nudity has incensed the Games chief, who warned American regulators to back off from policing ancient Greek culture. Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki warned the Federal Communications Commission watchdog, sensitive after a deluge of outrage when singer Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at a Super Bowl game, not to punish NBC television that aired the Games. Male nudity, a woman's breast and simulated sex were the subjects of shrill complaints about the opening ceremony on August 13, which were posted by the FCC on its website. «Far from being indecent, the opening ceremonies were beautiful, enlightening, uplifting and enjoyable,» Angelopoulos-Daskalaki wrote in a weekend commentary in the Los Angeles Times titled «Since When is Greece's Culture Obscene?» «Greece does not wish to be drawn into an American culture war. Yet that is exactly what is happening,» she said. Complaints focused on a parade of actors portraying naked statues. Among them were the Satyr and the nude Kouros male statues, both emblems of ancient Greece's golden age. Created by modern Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou and broadcast in the United States by NBC, the opening ceremony was credited with giving the Games a vitally successful start. «We also showed a couple enjoying their love of the Greek sea and each other. And we told the history of Eros, the god of love. Turning love, yearning and desire into a deity is an important part of our contribution to civilization,» Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said. The FCC, whose authority only extends to US media, has said it is looking into complaints but it was not clear whether a formal investigation would be launched. The former Athens 2004 chief, who said the handful of US complaints were dwarfed by the 3.9 billion people who watched the ceremony, had a blunt message. «As Americans surely are aware, there is great hostility in the world today to cultural domination in which a single value system created elsewhere diminishes and degrades local cultures,» she said in her commentary. «In this context, it is astonishingly unwise for an agency of the US government to engage in an investigation that could label a presentation of the Greek origins of civilization as unfit for television viewing.»

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