NBC’s Monkey Business

Poor timing or planned prejudice?

If you are keeping up with all things Olympic, you must know that 16-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas has won the gold in gymnastics, an impressive feat indeed. This makes the teenaged pro the first American to win the team and and all-around gold in the same Olympics and the fourth all-around American champion. Gabby is also the first black Olympics all-around champion.

We are all extremely proud of her, and NBC Olympics host Bob Costas remarked on her being a role model for little African American girls who may see this and be inspired to enter the predominantly white dominated sport of gymnastics.

“So far , so good,” as my mom used to say, then it all went downhill from there.

After Costas’ commentary on Gabby’s brilliant performance, the network aired a commercial depicting a monkey on bars training in gymnastics. We all know the monkey reference to blacks and the racist connotations.

Was this an eerie coincidence, an unforeseen error in judgement, an unintentional slip-up and bad timing, a faux pas, premeditated prejudice or intentional slight?

Many are saying the coupling of young Gabby’s Olympic gold glory and a monkey on bars is racist and NBC should have known better. Liz Fischer, spokeperson for the network claimed it was not planned and had this to say in response: “Gabby Douglas’ Gold medal performance last night was an historic and inspiring achievement. The spot promoting `Animal Practice,’ which has run three times previously, is one in a series with an Olympic theme, which have been scheduled for maximum exposure. Certainly no offense was intended.”

No apology was given, just an explanation. What do you think: should NBC apologize for the perceived prejudicial slant or was it simply an unforeseen timing issue?

Moreover, some have taken to Twitter to criticize Gabby’s “nappy” hair. First of all, there isn’t anything wrong with her hair. Secondly, to focus on the inconsequential instead of the brilliant achievements of this young woman, is stunning in its ignorance and thirdly, maybe the mindless minutiae masquerading as quality in our society today may have dumbed us down to the point of inertia. Now some cannot differentiate between what has merit and what’s garbage.

I think as a society we’re in major trouble if we do not have a seismic shift in values. We can start by practicing a little phrase called critical thinking. Just saying.



My name is Gaia and I live in a gorgeous desert between sand, rocks, hills, and dunes, in southern Israel. I'm here to share stories of interest, my views and personal experiences with you all.