A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

...then in the summertime, everyone would go around killing people for the pleasure of an ice-cream cone.

So, let's discuss this amazing bombshell of informative after-school knowledge, shall we?

I mean, this is really something.  This makes Little Girls in Pretty Boxes seem accurate and interesting.  This makes Make It or Break It seem like an inside documentary.  This is 80s fabulousness at its most offensive.

Let's start at the beginning.

Now, this would not be a gym review without at least one snarky comment about attire.  Right off the bat, we are given an ass shot of Julianne McNamara, clad in her glorious sheer purple spandex leggings.

OK, so I can kind of see where the wardrobe department (as if this $1k budget film allowed for a wardrobe department...) was going with this.  I had an Olympic Gymnast Barbie too, and she loved her purple and pink full body outfits.  So we'll let that one slide.

I don't know if this is a result of shoddy 80s film, or if this was intentional, but it appears to be a montage of sorts, and I see random little clips of some crummy level 5 gymnast?  Anyone else see that?  Is that supposed to be her as a crappy child gymnast?  Again, feasible, however strange, so we'll just raise an eyebrow and move on.

Let's go back to wardrobe.  Her coach has some rocking sweatsuits.  And I'm not entirely sure why he's wearing sunglasses while coaching bars inside the gym, but, you know... maybe it's real sunny in there.  True to cliche, he also has his coaching whistle around his neck at all times.  Awesome.  And a clipboard.  What is with gym shows always showing coaches with clipboards?  Don't coaches SPOT anymore?  Or do they all just stand around and make notes on their athletes?

So, naturally, and I never saw this coming, Julianne does some sort of cut-catch, and since she didn't even reach for the bar, she falls on her back.

And because Coach Pitstain is nowhere near the bars, he is in no position to catch her.  So she beefs it.  Now, to my highly trained gymnastics eye, this was obviously a safe fall, and probably didn't even hurt that much.  At least MIOBI got it right when they made Payson pull a Strug.  You knew that bit hurt.  Julianne's fall... not so much.

Now, this is the moment when I knew this video might be pretty fricking epic.  Coach Pitstain runs over, stares at her, looks at the camera and yells (?)...

"Get a doctor, quick!"  

Cut to logo from the Max.  This will not be the first time I am reminded of Saved by the Bell. 

Next, we're at the hospital.  Makes enough sense.  The doctor is checking her over as if she has a chest cold or something, which makes the next part even more special.  She goes on to explain how the fall happened.  She apparently took a glance at her coach during her jam to high bar, which distracted her and caused her to eat it 10 seconds later.  Sure.  She says some other unintelligible stuff, and then the doctor asks her to try to move her legs.  Again, wouldn't he have done this before listening to her chest with a stethoscope?  She cannot move her legs.  I mean, she's tried for the past few days, but she just can't do it.  All this happens while she's sitting upright, on her own, on the exam table.

The doctor, finally getting worried, decides to give her a super exact, scientific medical test.  He pokes her leg with a pin.  Does she feel it?  Of course not.  Because there are never minor injuries in gymnastics.  Only life-changing, back-breaking ones.

The next sequence of events confuses me.  She denies feeling the pin prick, then the doctor stares at her awkwardly.  She stares blankly.  He then lets her know that it's ok to cry.  Oh, ok.  I see what you did there.  Because, like Julianne lets us know, "I don't want to!  Winners don't cry!"  Everyone knows that gymnastics robs little girls of their emotions, as they will be horribly beaten by their coaches if they dare to do something disgusting and weak like cry.

The doctor leaves to confer with another doctor.  As he leaves, another creepy guy, who apparently was just chilling in the room with them, idles up to the camera to tell us that 100,000 young girls are training in gymnastics classes.  And I quote, "EACH ONE of these girls is competing for 8 slots on the women's Olympic team." 

Let's take a gander at that, shall we?  I was unaware that every single girl who is even remotely involved in gymnastics was competing for an Olympic spot.  Like, what a shitty way to manipulate the stats.  Yes, there may be that many girls involved in the sport.  But to insinuate that every one of those girls is even close to making the Olympic team is pretty misleading.  I'm just pulling numbers out of my butt here, but I'd say there are, what, 50 girls at the elite level?  But saying 8 out of 50 is a lot less jarring than 8 out of 100,000.  So let's just say whatever is the most shocking.

Now we're back to the two doctors, who inform us that... technical jargon technical jargon... the girl is faking it.  She is so overcome by pressure and stress that she thinks she's paralyzed.  So, not unlike Ricky Bobby?  Nothing is wrong with her tests and xrays, she's just loony.  She "shows all the symptoms: high end fever, perfectionist..."  Very classic symptoms indeed.

Now, the first doctor is saddled with the duty of telling Julianne's mother, and even worse, *gulp*, her coach.  Her mother, who must have been 12 when she had her, also has a mysterious British accent.  Ah, one of those actresses.  I've seen her type.  They think that enunciating harder makes them better actors.  Is it effective?  We'll let you decide.

The doctor goes on to explain that Julianne is under a lot of pressure, which totally offends Coach Pitstain.  Guy can't put on normal clothes for a trip to the hospital, by the way.  It's sweatsuits 100% of the time for this guy.  That way, we know he's a coach.  He lets us know, as it is a reoccurring theme in the show, that she is a WINNER! 

Ah, back to the gym.  Of course, she wouldn't be at physical therapy, or even at IHOP stuffing her face with sandwiches.  She'll just hang out at the gym and watch other people work out!

"Move!  Show me whatcha know!  Move!"

Again, Coach Pitstain is nowhere near any of his gymnasts.  He's just chilling in the corner, barking at them.  Julianne is wheeled in by her lady doctor.  I should add that it is very easy to wheel her around, because there are no mats in the gym.  That makes perfect sense.

Uh, now we see Kurt Thomas doing a bunch of presses on the parallel bars.

Them some SHORT shorts, yowza.  Longer than his shorts are his rat tail.  Awesome.  The lady doctor wheels Julianne right in front of the low bar, so she can longingly gaze at Kurt Thomas.  Of course, he has no idea she even exists.  She oogles him for a little while longer, and then Lady Doctor wheels her right on under the low bar while another gymnast is in the middle of actually doing something.

This gym has superior safety rules.

Now Captain Obvious, aka Coach Pitstains, berates Lady Doctor over not fixing Julianne fast enough.  Doesn't she know how IMPORTANT this is??  Why, it's NATIONALS!  And just like every other gymnast on the planet, poor Julianne knows of nothing other that gymnastics.  Outside of the gym, she simply cannot function.  Without gymnastics, she might as well go ahead and die, because it is all she knows.  Lady Doctor finally calls out the coach for being a douche, to which he replies that only if she were a man.... ho boy.  Then, she would get a punch on the kisser!  As all coaches are, he is only interesting in one thing: success!  He wants to WIN, no matter what, and it doesn't matter who gets hurt during his quest for fame. 

The two doctors get together to hatch a scheme, so that they can trick poor Julianne into walking.  It's unethical, it's immoral, but dammit, it's good medicine!  The first doctor stomps around the corner in a huff, and just stops.  Like, he thinks he's off camera, but his shadow is still there.  So, way to go, producers.

Next, we get to see what that crazy scheme was all about.  Lady Doctor wheels Julianne into the gym, where she proceeds to study Kurt Thomas.  While she's watching him, everyone else in the gym peaces out.  So when Kurt Thomas falls on his dismount, what's a poor girl to do?  This part is kind of fuzzy to me.  Like, she crawls out of her wheelchair, and... that's sort of it.  Nothing happens.  She doesn't get up and run to him, if that was in fact their goal.  Not too clear on that one.

Meanwhile, everyone else is back at the doctor's office.  I can't even tell, is that Kurt Thomas?  He's like a chubbier Zach Morris, complete with bright blue palm tree shirt.  Oh yeah, that's him.  Such a fabulous rat tail.  They acknowledge that the plan was a failure, and that she is simply a victim of all this PRESSURE.

While reminiscing after her glory days, Julianne starts to take down her medals and ribbons (are they in the locker room?  They don't make this very clear...)  She holds up a miniature leotard, probably one of the level 5's... oh wait, it's the one she wore LAST YEAR at regionals.  What's with uninformed gymnastics shows thinking that regionals is some huge deal?   Julianne whines about being labeled "Little Miss Perfect" (how horrible) and all the pressure to be so PERFECT.  Again, the doctor randomly lets her know that it's ok to cry, after which she reminds him that winners don't cry!  And then the blank staring again.

Following the locker room pep-talk, Julianne gets wheeled into the gym, seemingly into her own intervention.  Everyone is there.  Most importantly, Mr. Kurt Thomas.  He snatches her away, and bargains with her that if she walks, he'll take her to the dance.  Oh good.  Because that's all we need.  Another teenage girl who will only do things to get a boy to like her.  I blame Twilight for this.  Given some real motivation, she miraculously gets up and starts to walk.  Everyone hugs and smiles.  The end.

Or almost.  That creepy guy is back, to let us know blah blah blah then the one meaningful line of the entire show, which is sometimes the worst pressure is the type you put on yourself.

And that, friends, is 20 minutes of my life I will never get back.  Did I learn anything?  Not so much.  Do I hate them for furthering a negative, incorrect portrayal of gymnastics?  Yes I do.


  1. Very intuitive blog. Not only were there a lack of mats around the gym, the mats that were on a couple of the apparatus were so thin that Im sure a couple ankles got blown out during filming.

    I loved the pullovers on bars and the few casts done. I think this is Level 1 now :)

  2. Not ALL coaches are like that... Some of them (not too many) actually are interested in their athletes well being...

  3. That coach is unbelievably creepy. The Jim Jones vibe with the sunglasses does not help! And Lurky Guy is Bill Bixby, the Incredible Hulk! (You wouldn't like him when he's angry :)

    Kind of sad how at that point it was 8 spots, then ten years later it was 7, and now we're down to 5 piddling Olympic spots. Bruno Grandi has really drive the sport into the ground.