What can I say? I knew I would be in for disappointment!
The Olympic Opening Ceremony was yesterday, and I was very, very careful to not peek during the day, since it was going to be preempted here. Before the opening, there was an introduction, nicely narrated, beginning at the source of the Thames and encompassing the beautiful English countryside as it followed the river to London. As the narration began, they showed sketches of famous British icons: William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Darwin, and then John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was as if there had been NOTHING of import composed or written or discovered in England between Darwin and Lennon. But I let it slide, since most young people here wouldn’t know if there had been, anyway. One thing that struck me as odd was how the narration talked about different nationalities competing, like the Chinese, and even the Massai, but lumped all Latinos. Huh…
The ceremonies opened as my British blogger friend Katipede informed: with a reproduction of a British pastoral scene, complete with livestock and working well and everything!! I had scoffed at it, but it truly was amazingly done. And ZOMG!!! Kenneth Branagh, who is awesomeness, recites from The Tempest!!!
Then as if by magic it began to transform into an industrial scene, and that was beautifully done. Smokestacks rising from the earth and men (and women, too) working in a factory setting, Branagh and Co. watching the transformation, with hundreds of drummers instead of 84 pianos to mark the transition, culminating in the forging of the Olympic Rings suspended above the field. It was masterful from a technological perspective. As the industrial revolution took root, there was then a pause for the War to End All Wars. Now, I’m all for a moment of silence, and was advocating for one specifically in memory of the Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics in 1972, forty years ago. But the IOC said that would be too political. However, the IOC did allow for a moment of silence for those who had died in the World Wars, as well as for the victims of the 7/7 attacks.
I assume those aren’t political in any way. Yes, I am a bit bitter, why do you ask?? But I had to remind myself that A) the director of this shindig happens to be a left-leaning socialist, and 2) the IOC is not exactly …. unbiased towards certain nation-states. And that’s where I will leave it!
Then it went to Hades.
People began filling the area dressed as members of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and other sundry Beatles films and song references, along with Chelsea Trumpeters and carnival goers, suffragettes, and dark figures representing the wounded. In a sweet tongue-in-cheek moment, Daniel Craig as James Bond escorts Queen Elizabeth II to the games, only to parachute into the stadium. Like that would happen! But she was a good sport, and did a great job for her first acting gig. That was the only redeeming part of this section. Because Danny Boyle decided to make the National Health Service the centerpiece of his tribute.
I am not putting down the NHS. They do have their problems, true. But my problem with this is that Great Britain, the United Kingdom as a whole, has contributed far more to the world than just universal healthcare. In fact, they didn’t contribute universal healthcare at all, since it is their system, not everyone else’s. And this is the OLYMPICS, where ALL countries come together to put aside their political differences and rejoice in the human spirit. Music, literature, medicine, law…there is no end to what they have contributed to the world. But the tribute to the NHS seemed like a discreet push to the government. It was tacky and overdone, and if the NHS is so strapped, why did they use actual nurses and staff to dance around?? GAH!!!
Anyway, stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2. There was so much to cover, I have to break it down in two posts. Trust me 😉