Obviously it's great when an American wins a gold medal. Or any medal! But gold is best. Even if you knew the outcome before you watched (thanks for ruining the Gabby news for me, Internet), it's a moment to feel proud of one's country and like we've all accomplished something even though of course most of us have accomplished nothing. It's a big reason why we watch the Olympics. So it is with horror and heartache that we watch the London games medal ceremonies tarnished and near-ruined by two glaring things.
First, what exactly is going on with those terrible gray jackets? They're shapeless and made of weird material and, y'know, gray. How festive and joyous! Are they supposed to suggest the color of a British sky? They are just so drab and dreary and look almost medical. Like, they are basically the vests that you wear near an x-ray machine? Maybe Ralph Lauren dreamed them up while at the hospital after falling off his wooden motorboat or something. Whatever their origin, we wish someone had rethought them at some point. Because watching Gabby Douglas soar through the air like some sort of majestic squirrel-bird only to be weighed down back on earth with that depressing gray smock is really dismaying. Let's toss the jackets, please. I know it's a grand Olympics tradition to complain about the team uniforms — or to wonder sadly why the Americans can never look as stylish as the Canadians at the winter games — but this is more serious than a common gripe. Those jackets are a sad mess and they almost ruin the special gold medal American moments.
If the jackets don't quite get that job done, the version of "The Star Spangled Banner" that the Brits have chosen to play for us might finish it off. How rushed and tinny does that thing sound? We're not saying there has to be cannons and a full orchestra every time an American wins gold (which is often — we're tied with China as of last night!) but come on, at least play a recording that's doesn't sound a few instruments away from MIDI. Watching the victors put their hands to their chests and stare up at the flag loses some of its potency when the anthem that starts playing is just the demo song on a Casio keyboard.
Eh, but, we are probably being spoilsports. Nothing can really ruin the winning, can it? That sense that finally, finally all our American riches and wonders have paid off. It's not easy being an American, what with all our food and shelter and soda and Hollywood, but at least on occasion at the Olympics we can say "All that money was finally good for something." And that's unshakeable. But that doesn't mean the victory moments couldn't be a little better, with a new look and a new sound. After all, a little makeover never hurt anyone.