Well, to be more precise, it’s the many local connections of the Olympics and The Bachelor that will shine the bright lights of media on the region. What’s interesting is that one show is a made-for-TV reality show, and the other is bona fide real-world coverage of athletic competition.
“The Bachelor Winter Games” is, of course the reality TV show. What’s interesting is that phrase, “reality TV,” has permeated popular culture during the past two decades. A reality TV show is essentially made up and has little to do with actual reality. What a reality show attempts to do is take ordinary, non-celebrity people (hence the “reality” part of the show) and put them in situations, often some sort of competition, that will bring out the best, and sometimes the worst, in them. With cameras following their every move, the participants become the stars of the series. At their best, reality TV shows offer fun entertainment with interesting personalties for viewers to root for, or against.
What is great about the faux “winter games” is that much of the TV series was shot around the region. The opening parade was filmed in Manchester, the on-snow games at Haystack Mountain at the Hermitage Club, and many other scenes were shot in Wilmington and Dover. Having film and production crews trekking all over the region for a few weeks might be seen as an annoyance to some. But there is economic activity that takes place (see article on page 1) and, more important, exposure.
It will be great to see Vermont as the backdrop for an extremely popular TV franchise, one that draws millions of viewers on a weekly basis. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on what kind of boost the exposure will have for the area, but there is no doubt it will be substantial, and welcome.
Speaking of exposure, starting Friday are the real winter games. There are few sporting extravaganzas that have the kind of media exposure that the Olympics generate. For two-plus weeks, much of the world will follow the accomplishments of the athletes and teams as they compete in an extensive array of events. What is so compelling about the Olympics is that these are real-life competitors, not TV reality-show competitors, who have trained and contended at a high level for years to reach the top of their sport. This upcoming fortnight is their chance to shine. The Olympics are where so many dreams can be fulfilled and years of effort validated. There is opportunity for so many.
There are a number of well-known, world-class athletes with strong ties to the local ski academies, mountains, and towns, including Kelly Clark, Devin Logan, Lindsey Jacobellis, and Sophie Caldwell. They all have legitimate chances to win medals. Even if they don’t collect the hardware, there will be ample opportunity for television and web stream “up close and personal” features about the athletes. No doubt those will include some discussion about the athlete’s background, including their connections to Vermont. Again, what a great opportunity for the athletes, and for the area.
While the focus of the Olympics should be first and foremost on the athletes and their accomplishments, a little spillover exposure for the area is never a bad thing.
Get ready, southern Vermont. The next few weeks will be one of those periods that only comes around once in a blue moon. Whether reality TV or real-life action on TV, millions of people around the world will be watching the Olympics and The Bachelor. That this area gets to play a small part in the success of any event is something that occurs only occasionally. That two major events are taking place concurrently is unusual, to say the least.
Ready or not, reality or not, let the games begin.