José Esteban Muñoz teaches Performance Studies at New York University. He grew up in a Cuban-American family in Hialeah, Fla. He writes about art, race, and sexuality. His most recent book is Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (2009).
What’s your earliest Olympic memory?
I must have been 8 or 9, and I remember watching an Olympic boxing match between Cuba and the United States. It must have been the Montreal Olympics. My dad had a friend from work over to our house. His friend looked at me watching the TV, then looked at my father, then turned back to me and asked if I was very interested in boxing. I replied that no, I was just interested in politics. This has proven to be true. But this year I am sort of excited about women’s boxing because one of my graduate students is writing about it, and I can’t help but become interested.
How excited do you get about the Summer Games: Eager? Hyperventilating? Meh?
Somewhere between “meh” and kind of eager.
Which events that you particularly enjoy watching? (Or, if you don’t like the Olympics, what do you do instead in August?)
I like turning on random things. But I am most interested in swimming, diving, gymnastics, and tennis.
Are there any sports you watch only during the Olympics?
Today I watched some volleyball. I have no interest in volleyball but I nonetheless watched because it was the Olympics.
If you ran the International Olympic Committee, what sport would you add/get rid of? What rule would you change?
I am more than a bit horrified about the obscene amount of money being pumped into the games despite “austerity” politics. It’s laughable the United Kingdom is hosting the games and spending billions at this particular moment when public funding is being savaged by the Tories.
What do you think of NBC’s Olympic coverage? Or do you watch the Olympics in Spanish?
I watch the games in English but in a very sporadic way.
What athletes will you be rooting for?
None in particular.
Other than the United States, which countries do you cheer for?
My style of watching the games does not usually include “cheering.”
Overall, are the Olympics a good thing, or a waste of time and money? An instrument of peace or of nationalist zeal?
I would say waste and nationalist zeal, but I will nonetheless watch.
If you could have a ticket to one Olympic event in London, what would it be?
The idea of being in London during the games is horrifying.