While I was watching the Olympic Opening ceremonies last night I thought, Raul expects me to write about this. And sure enough, I got an email about it. Well, I really did set up the expectation didn’t I? I’d rather be watching the Olympics than writing about the weirdness that was on my tv last night so I’m going to keep it to what I remember. In no particular order.

Five Golden Ring Showers
I liked the effect of the gold rings that flew in and the one wrought from the Industrial Revolution. It sort of – sort of – explained why so much damn time was spent on the depressing scene. The ring was wrought then flew up to meet it’s alien brothers. Then they all pissed Olympic gold onto the the crowds. I actually thought the effect was kind of neat except it made no sense. But nothing did.

London – Where Labor Was Born
The show sort of started with very Danny Boyle extended tracking shot, hyper-edited video of the British Isles. Blah blah blah whatever. Some cute kids sang and then led into the most boring set intro ever. The Shire/farmlands/worst use of turf set looked like a grade school diorama gone very wrong. Like something a parent dreamed up but both kid and parent quit on halfway through. With sad, defeated tenant farmers trudging through the interminable opening act they then turned into sad, defeated factory workers in the Industrial Revolution act. The show seemed to be a parade of everything miserable about British history. I’m surprised they didn’t make it rain through the whole thing.

Raul mentioned that he hated the commentary by Matt Lauer and Meridith Viera but frankly, I needed the explanation. Without it I would not have known Kenneth Branagh was reciting from Shakespeare’s The Tempest or that he was supposed to be not Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter but the British guy who did not invent steam engines but sold them. Or something like that. He seemed to leading a street dance team of other top-hatted mean pop locking their way around the field. Huh?


The Industrial Revolution – Phallic Towers and One Hot Ring
Continuing the ode to The Lord of the Rings – I thought we were in London, not New Zealand – the arena turned into Mordor, or London during the Industrial Revolution with gigantic pillars around a golden ring. Make your own joke here. Euphemisms aside, why so serious? I mean really, where’s the happiness here? This isn’t fun, stunning, or entertaining. It’s gloomy and it followed the longest, clumsiest set transition EVER with the sad farmworkers rolling up the shire turf and hauling away the fences to reveal – grey stone factories. Yay! Waiting for Guffman, eat your heart out.

Then I saw Daniel Craig. He’s on my list. I like how mean and tough he looks. I refuse to post a picture of the indignation he suffered last night. He went to Buckingham Palace to pick up the Queen in a helicopter. Then they flew through London to the arena where they parachuted out of the helicopter. Yes, that’s right. That happened. After they oh so cleverly cut to the Queen appearing in the arena. She looked so pissed I thought she was going to slap the hot off of Daniel Craig. Wrong D honey. Get Danny Boyle not Daniel Craig. I can’t blame her. If I’d been strong armed into participating in a stunt as cheap and stupid as that for my coutnry, I’d be pissed too. I like the Queen. Sorry E.

Oh and Mr. Bean was there. And you know what? I laughed. That’s how bad it got. I laughed and Mr. Bean. They comped into the Chariots of Fire clip very poorly. Enough said.

British Literature – No One Beats Our Baddies
There was also a very weird segment where they highlighted British children’s authors with a reading from JK Rowling. Sounds great right? There were little British children jumping around in their beds with kind of neat blankets of light. But then all the villains showed up to horrify everyone – Cruella DeVille, Voldemort, Captain Hook in towering renditions and dozens of black clad bogeymen. Again with the scary and dark stuff? And they were huge! They sort of get chased away by a hundred regular human sized Mary Poppinses but since they’re also all in black it was just a lot of black on black action. And they just didn’t have the impact of baddies who were several stories tall. If you’d been in the audience I don’t know if you could tell what was happening. Or if you were not on drugs. Or drunk. Or insane.

Oh and Paul McCartney sang.

The NHS – We Have Health Care and You Don’t
Oh god then they did the tribute to the National Health Service. I take back what I said before, this was the Guffman moment. It was so weird – the NHS? How about something about sports you guys? Like the fact that London has hosted a record 3 times. Or just something pleasant? I support their national health care systerm but what does it have to do with the Olympics or a contribution to the world?

That’s my beef here. You want to focus on Britain? Fine. Beijing did that to great effect but you didn’t see portrayal of the one child policy. How Britain helps Britain with health care is not exciting or transferable. What about what it’s contributed to the world, to history. I love the US National Park system but I don’t want to see a dancing Mt. Rushmore at the Olympics because it’s for us, not them. And it would be stupid. And why all the focus on the heavy stuff? The Olympics are supposed to be a celebration of the human spirit, sportsmanship and the commonalities we share with all humans. How does this ceremony celebrate and honor these men and women who have worked so hard, who share natural gifts regardless of their origin and who proudly represent their countries while celebrating the world as a whole? It doesn’t. I’m not disappointed because I got bored and confused. I’m disappointed because the Olympics are a rare event where the world can come together to celebrate each other and the opening ceremony should be the spark for that joy and enthusiasm. We don’t have to stunned like Beijing, but something celebratory and entertaining would have been nice. Bad form London. Danny Boyle – I’m looking at you.

At the risk of sounding like a grump I forgot to mention the two things I really enjoyed.

I really like the Arctic Monkeys and they did a cover of Come Together while a cyclists with illuminated wings rode circled the arena gracefully. It ended with a single bird of peace rising into the sky.

I also very much liked the lighting of the cauldron. Each of the 204 countries brought in a separate petal torch which was laid in the center of the arena forming a giant flower. When the 7 torch bearers lit these petals they all became lit together. They then were raised to form the Olympic cauldron.It was moving and symbolic and what I am talking about when I refer to the world community. This and the doves is what I was hoping the entire ceremony would be and it’s almost more frustrating to know that they were indeed capable of such grand moments but we had to wait until the very end for it. I am glad though that after the entrance of the athletes, that they could enjoy and be celebrated with this instead of Lincoln in the Shire.

 

Raul – I don’t want any comments about adding to the post. I had to run out ok?