Monday, August 13, 2012

Closing Ceremony

The Olympic closing ceremony in London was much better than the opening ceremony, which we just detested in our house. Last night had an underlying tone of good-natured exuberance and joyfulness, instead of the stale sociology seminar of the opening. It was glamorous instead of earnest - the Spice Girls on their London taxis were particularly fun. The Eric Idle set was wonderful. There was more quirky individualism than dark satanic mills.

I'm still puzzled about why so many people think the opening ceremony was good. I think for many Brits the high point was the Queen's leap from the helicopter. There may have been much more of an impact and shocked surprise if you saw it live. We already knew about it because we had to wait for hours to see the ceremony on NBC, so it was already old news. And the Brits would get an extra thrill from the subversion of royal decorum.

But I still don't get the talk of "creative risk-taking" in Boyle's production. I think it's the old avant-garde "epater les bourgeois", in part, circa with "the artist" imagining they are being terribly daring but in reality bland and conventional and unimaginative. Boyle might as well have walked a giant lobster around the stadium for part of the show, and delighted the media in-crowd.

His vision of a "new Britishness" was just sad, a sort of slumdog hip-hop anomie, a last gasp of rewarmed Blairite Cool Britannia thinking. Actual Britishness turned out to be much better, in the enthusiasm of the crowds and triumphs of the Team GB athletes in the following two weeks.

NBC hit a new low last night, though. At 11pm, instead of showing the last act of the ceremony, they deferred it and showed an episode of a new show about vetinarians called Animal Practice.

Words fail me. Worst. Network. Ever. They may have got high viewing numbers from a captive audience but they should never be allowed to cover a major event again.


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