Friday night’s opening ceremony for the Olympic Games left me agape and wondering what in the world I was witnessing. The only thing I could picture was someone watching the proceedings while tripping on acid. Maybe then the whole production would have made sense. The New York Times described last night in London as “a wild jumble of the celebratory and the fanciful; the conventional and the eccentric; and the frankly off-the-wall.” The Times went further: “Britain presented itself to the world Friday night as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is.”
The noisy, busy, witty, dizzying production somehow managed to feature a flock of sheep (plus a busy sheepdog), the Sex Pistols, Lord Voldemort, the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a suggestion that the Olympic rings were forged by British foundries during the Industrial Revolution, the seminal Partridge Family reference from “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” a group of people dressed like so many members of Sgt. Pepper’s band, some rustic hovels tended by rustic peasants, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and, in a paean to the National Health Service, a zany bunch of dancing nurses and bouncing sick children on huge hospital beds.
It was neither a nostalgic sweep through the past nor a bold vision of a brave new future. Rather, it was a sometimes slightly insane portrait of a country that has changed almost beyond measure since the last time it hosted the Games, in the grim postwar summer of 1948.
Yes, and apart from wondering how the events would stimulate the human experience while under the influence of mind-altering drugs, I also pondered what the late great Winston Churchill would have thought about the proceedings. For that matter, what was the Queen thinking ? She was hardly able to stay attentive when the Brits entered the stadium during the introduction of participating countries. The same country that fought tirelessly to stave off Naziism just 70 years ago, was now politicizing children’s literature with a creepy salute to the National Health Service. At one point, while the nurses and kiddies were dancing around hospital beds, NBC’s commentary team noted that the nurses taking part in the entertainment were not actors. They were real nurses. Maybe this partially explains why people are lying in British hospitals; deteriorating and ultimately dying from lack of care. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for socialized medicine here in the states.
Of course our boys and girls entered the arena in their red-Chinese-made uniforms with matching berets. Nothing says American greatness like the French beret. Let’s hope a flurry of gold medals makes everyone quickly forget about the sissified uniforms. They should have mirrored Bermuda’s clothing choice: swim shorts. At least that would have looked more American.
The opening ceremony was laughable. It was pathetic. It was terrible. It was precious minutes I’ll never get back. Conservative member of Parliament Aiden Burley took to Twitter and described the debacle as “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen — more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state!”. Well said, sir. Well said.