Um, so that Olympic opening thing Friday night...I don't know about you, but I saw a lot of it, and I mostly liked what I saw, even though I couldn't really articulate why. Then I stumbled across this amazing piece by Alex Wolff on SI.com, which perfectly put into words what I was not able to:
Four years ago, after a comparable night on the other side of the globe, the rest of the world had a moment of collective sadness for the London organizers. No way could the stagers of the next Olympics possibly equal Beijing's lid-lifting spectacle. But tonight we learned that if the guy in front of you zigs, it's best to zag. Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, spent almost four times less money and deployed roughly one-tenth as many people. But he outstripped the previous Olympic host city by flaunting what the Chinese actively suppressed.
This was pageantry as jiu-jitsu.
Exactly! The London spectacle was no product of centralized planning. It was sprawling (seriously -- was there a famous British citizen who did NOT participate?), it was loud, it was embarrassing at times and surprising at others, and it was rebellious and it was messy. Just like democracy at its finest.
The moment that clinched it for me -- which Wolfe aludes to in his post -- was when its over-the-top music medley included a snippet of the Sex Pistols. Can you believe it?...the folks who a generation ago sang "God save the Queen...she ain't no human being." Now included in a celebration of English culture, in front of the royal family. Do you think such a thing would happen in China?
Would such a thing happen in America, in 2012? Good question.
* Title is a lyric from "God Save the Queen" by the Sex Pistols.