Saturday, July 28, 2012
Mad Analysis: The Olympics
Something else I love is the United Kingdom. I have good reason to. I speak English, I have ancestors buried all over Great Britain and Ireland, I studied British literature at university, I love the British monarchy, the British Empire, those great old British values of hard work, determination, ambition and stoic courage. I love the culture, I admire the great heroes of British history and the whole, long British story. The United Kingdom has a matchless record amongst the countries of the world and one that every Briton should be justifiably proud of. All that being said, as I watched the opening ceremonies on Friday night, I’m sorry, but I thought it was horrible. I kept waiting for it to get better and it only seemed to get worse and worse. There was very little about that whole ‘performance’ I could even recognize as British. I began to wonder just how out of touch I am with the mainstream of the land of so many of my forefathers. Is this how the British think of themselves? Was that display an example of what defines the modern United Kingdom? Grubby faced laborers, suffragettes, storybook villains, socialized healthcare and clips from sitcoms (some of which were American)? No bold explorers, no Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Nelson or Captain Cook but Harry Potter, Mr. Bean and the NHS? Really? And, by the way, I have nothing against Mr. Bean, he’s very funny, but is a comedic daydream of cheating in a foot race the best way to open the Olympic games? And I really didn’t understand at all the little episode with the young couple and the salute to pop music. Were they even supposed to be British? Am I terrible person for wondering?
What was I expecting? I can’t say exactly but maybe something with Irish dancers, Welsh choirs, some Scottish highlanders, something English in the Tudor era fashion, maybe a nod to the navigators who sailed forth from the shores of Britain to plant the seeds from which sprung the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on. Of course celebrating the legacy of the British Empire would never be tolerated but when I think of celebrating the best of what it means to be British, British culture and so on, I don’t immediately think of commemorating the industrial revolution in interpretive dance following by a salute to the National Health Service, 70’s disco dancing and clips from The Cosby Show. To everyone who was impressed and enthralled by it all, I do apologize for being blunt. I hope I don’t receive the Romney treatment but in the opinion of this viewer, I can hardly come up with anything positive to say. I don’t get it. To me, it seemed awful. Just awful. Yes, the industrial revolution was a hugely important event in history and Britain led the way in that, but do you really want huge belching smokestacks as part of the opening ceremony of the Olympics? And why was Mohammed Ali there? Seriously, to me, that just seemed embarrassing. Let the man be and have his privacy and stop using him for a living history exhibit.
Nonetheless, as I said, I still like the Olympics, I will put aside all of that mess and watch and enjoy the games, focusing on the athletes who have worked so hard to get where they are today. Despite all my problems with what goes on at the Olympics, I still think that is a lesson worth showcasing: hard work, discipline and determination pays off. Just don’t try to be funny. And here’s hoping the closing ceremonies will be done with a little more class than the opening show. Okay, feel free to tell me how totally wrong I am and what a great show it was, I am prepared…