An article I did for Something You Said about the similarities to an addiction to the Olympics and an acid bender.
I think I have just witnessed perhaps the most incredible, mind-bending spectacle I have ever witnessed in all my years watching TV. I think I need to pinch myself just to make sure I am still living in reality. I think I just witnessed an Olympic Opening Ceremony which didn’t suck.
Last night I was all ‘nah fuck it I’m not getting up at 5am to watch the opening ceremony’. My girlfriend’s mum recorded it anyway and we got up and started watching it at the very civilized hour of 10am. Perhaps the coffee and decent nights sleep contributed to my enjoyment of this event. I really don’t know what it was but they fucking nailed it.
Lets start with the performance at the beginning. I believe they were going for a timeline of British history. There were people dancing around in fields and playing cricket on the village green. Village girls in frocks prancing around picking flowers or whatever it is they did pre-industrial revolution. That was all very nice and quaint. All of a sudden these enormous drums started. The village greens started disappearing and huge towers were being built to the soundtrack of machine gun drums and gigantic choirs. Milton’s Paradise Lost got a few minutes. Molten steel was being oozed around the middle of the stadium with workers (dancers) bashing it into the shape of the Olympic rings. I know my quick capsule review of this doesn’t do it justice but it was all very spectacular. When I say spectacular I mean it in the nicest possible way, not in a Rock Eisteddfod schools spectacular kind of way.
It wasn’t just a big celebration of Industry. Chicks got some bigups too with a section of the performance dedicated to the Suffragettes. This was partly to signify that the UK invented freethinking ladies and also that the Saudi’s have found it in themselves to let a woman be an Olympian. This massive backflip by the Saudis means now all countries have at least one female competitor which is crazy considering its 2012 and Australia have had women competing in the Olympics for over a century.
There was a bit about World War 1 which was super epic. A bit where a whole bunch of people dressed up as The Beatles came out and marched around as if to say ‘hey look, The Beatles were from England’. Then a whole bunch of black guys with suitcases danced out onto the arena symbolizing West Indian immigration to the UK. This part of the performance was a super expensive choreographed timeline of selected parts of English history. It was a visual banquet and executed with incredible precision and taste.
Act two involves a video of Daniel Craig playing James Bond going to Buckingham Palace to pick up the Queen and bring her to the stadium. After watching the entire opening ceremony I have now decided I really don’t like the Queen and I think she is a total bitch. She wasn’t very nice to James Bond and when the entire Great Britain team marched out she was seen frowning and looking at her fingernails. Seriously, if you don’t want to be there give the job to Charles. He wants it, you don’t. Simple.
Anyway the James Bond bit was cool because it showed the world the beauty and energy of London in the summertime while 007 & QE2 fly above the city in a chopper. It was silly but a bit of fun at the same time.
Now here is where things start to get a bit juicy. I started to get the impression that perhaps this wasn’t just a performance showing the world that Great Britain was still a strong nation but it was also a proper ‘fuck you’ to America. There was literally a song and dance about the NHS with the voiceover (read off a script by our own Eddie Maguire) explaining that no country can leave a sick person untreated and call themselves civilized. This was only one example throughout the entire opening ceremony where I got a sense that American attitudes and values were being targeted in the name of fair play, good times, Englishness and the Olympics. As someone who finds a lot of American attitudes repulsive and a poor representation on humanity I found this underlying message refreshing.
Later on in the ceremony after all the Mary Poppins, JK Rowing, Mike Oldfield, Mr. Bean, Chariots Of Fire kiddie bullshit came the celebration of youth culture in the UK. There was a narrative about a girl who loses her phone and then some dude finds it and gives it back to her and they start making out (which is just Britain telling the world that their girls are proper easy). The narrative and dance routine incorporates British pop music from the 60’s to today. The Beatles, The Who, Bowie, Zeppelin, Sex Pistols, New Order, Happy Mondays, The Prodigy, Underworld, Blur and a live performance by Dizzee Rascal all featured. Also I might be wrong but I swear all the performers were taking photos and texting off iPhone 5’s. I assume what they were trying to say is that nobody comes close to Britain in the realm of pop music. Oh and they later said they invented the Internet. How d’ya like them apples America?
After the hyperactive orgy of ‘yoof culture’ there was a hymn dedicated to the absent spectators who should have been there and then a dance number about dead children which was a total downer and really didn’t need to happen. For all its depressing qualities it was still brilliantly done and didn’t really look out of place.
Now that they had bummed out about 3 billion people I think they assumed this would be a good time to bring the athletes out. I got my fashionista on to pass judgment on the uniforms so here are some selections. I fast-forwarded from D-U though so sorry about that (perhaps if I was being paid for this I would have watched it all but Sophie had to go to Brazilian BBQ and I had to write this before it became old news).
Australia – Naff but not as naff as the uniforms have been in the past. Lauren Jackson is a bit of a fox for a total genetic freak of nature.
Albania – All looked like weightlifters and pickpockets.
American Samoa – Dressed like they were at some APEC summit.
Aruba – 1980’s Cabin Crew.
Angola – Lovely.
Argentina – Looked very blue and didn’t get booed which was nice.
Bahrain – Aladdin swag.
Barbados – Egg yellow shirts and orange ties. Like a boss.
Bhutan – Well snazzy.
Brazil – Nice pants/skirts. Cabin crew potential.
Bulgaria – Insane!
Cameroon – Their uniforms look like they were made from pop tarts and candy.
Canada – Boring.
Central African Republic – Nice bowties.
China – I want one of those jackets.
USA – Look very nice in a psychotic kind of way.
Great Britain – Looked like 80’s Elton John but on more cocaine and less shame.
Anyway there were flying bikes, Arctic Monkeys, lovely speeches and Mohammad Ali reminding us all about the dangers of being punched in the head for a living. The multiple person torch lighting was nice too.
The whole ceremony was done fantastically well by some clearly very talented and organized people. I love how proud the English can still be after everything (going broke, losing the empire, David Cameron, getting rained on all day) and how they still know how to make Americans look retarded.
Now let the games begin!
Well the Olympics are just around the corner and I for one am somewhat excited. I find the Olympics to be a lot of fun. All the clichés about glory and prowess are all true. If I didn’t have better things to do I would stay home for the whole fortnight and watch everything I could.
In 2008 I did just that. I had been struck down by a very nasty flu just as the Beijing Games begun. I was between houses, unemployed, newly single and crashing at my folks place. I spent days on the couch and nights either on the couch or in bed. Although this might not sound like the ideal position one could be in in life, it was perfect for me. The 29th Summer Olympiad was starting and I had nothing better to do (except look for a job and move out of my parents place).
I got into quite a few sports I hadn’t normally though much about. Gymnastics was one of them. How humans could achieve these massive feats of agility and strength while others (me) were laying on the couch was kind of inspiring. I also really got into the rowing. I don’t really know why it sucked me in as much as it did but I think it had something to do with the grace the boat glides through the water. It’s like a swan if a swan was controlled by humans and went really fucking fast. It was also kind of Roman; these men had purpose and looked a bit gay.
Of course I followed the sports I had developed an interest in during past Olympics. Athletics, Swimming and Diving always get my attention. In 2008 we had Michael Phelps in the pool who was a total freak. Stephanie Rice was great too even though it was a bit creepy how almost all straight Aussie men did the whole time she was in the spotlight was talk about how much they wanted to root her. Usain Bolt was next level on the track too. A delight to watch.
The 100m sprint is the Olympics most popular event and for good reason. There are no stroke restrictions or handicaps like other sports and events. It is the shortest distance in Olympic running. As it requires no equipment except for legs and a will to win, it is open to everyone regardless of income. The event determines every four years who the fastest man/woman in the world is. No biggie.
I always dug Linford Christie as a kid, and not just because he had a sick name. When I was seven and the Barcelona Olympics were on he made me feel like a winner just watching him. Donovan Bailey not so much (I think it’s because he is Canadian and I find it hard getting excited about Canada, not racist or anything I just cant do it for some reason). Marion Jones got me all giddy during the Sydney games but it turns out she was a filthy drug cheat. The fact that went undetected for like seven years was a pretty good effort in itself though. She should be given some sort of prize for that right?
Olympic football is bullshit and a total waste of everyone’s time. Nobody gives a shit except people who only watch football and have no interest in any other sports. Basically for those who aren’t clued up on the politics of Association Football (Soccer to Howards Australia) it goes like this: Football is run internationally by a governing body called FIFA. FIFA are based in a titanium bunker located exactly six Gregorian miles into the Earths Core. They are run by an ex Nazi war criminal with a penchant for young Moroccan boys called Sepp “Number One” Blatter. Now SS Blatter cares not for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and does not allow them the rights to any of the full international teams. FIFA only allows teams participating in the Olympics to have three players aged over 23 years. This automatically means the football competition at the Olympic games is cheapened and all the glory is saved up for the World Cup, which to FIFA’s credit is always amazing and completely worth the wait.
Football shouldn’t be an Olympic sport because every single player would rather win the World Cup than an Olympic gold medal. If they say otherwise they are liars. The same goes for Tennis.
The Olympics should be about stuff people don’t usually watch. Sports that men and women train their entire lives for but only get attention for it a couple of weeks every four years, and that’s if they are lucky enough to participate in two Olympic Games.
I cant wait to pretend I know what I’m talking about while watching Javelin, to marvel at how far back from the table the Table Tennis guys are and to see how fucking naff the opening ceremony is going to be. It should be a good couple of weeks.
Olympics part two coming soon…