Tuesday, August 12, 2008


"Television is the major player ushering in the pageantry," says Kevin Wamsley, an Olympics historian with the University of Western Ontario. "It became part of the entertainment package that is the Olympic Games"...
Most include a retelling of the host nation's founding myths -- often in a hilariously fragmented and abstract form. When a large birdlike contraption ran across the stadium during the Atlanta Opening Ceremonies in 1996, NBC's on-air hosts blurted out: "My best guess is that this is about the Civil War"

I'm of the school that thinks low-tech might be the new black in future olympics pageantry.
Would it be to much to suggest a return from the mind-boggling hypocrisy, propaganda, and panoply of the opening ceremony to the simplicity of the athletes' entry, the local and olympic anthems, a speech by the OC president, and, the most symbolic action, the lighting of the olympic flame?
Times online

It would take something as simple as a ron clarke running around the arena and up the stairs to match the mega extravaganza of recent flame lighting. imho.

see also: recent search request


genevieve said...

The truly scary bit of the Beijing opening was that moveable type simulacrum (what appeared to be a simulacrum) which then morphed into ye traditional Communist man-powered spectacle. THAT had me bamboozled.

And I think low-tech is already the new black, if the way my daughter's show at the Emerging Writers' Festival earlier this year is anyway to go by. One cast member went over to the steps at the side of the 'stage' at BMW, picked up a prop, saying, " and I...." put it on her head, turned to audience saying triumphantly, "am- AN ASHTRAY." Crowd went wild.

boynton said...

- always been the new black for me.

"I am an ashtray" sounds great...

But not sure that the 'Towards a Poor Olympics Pageant' manifesto would make a splash in the era of 'Broadcast Games'. Alas.

I did hear someone on the radio cite Seoul as an example of relatively simple, human-scale but powerful opening ceremony..?
I can't remember...

That's the other thing, they all tend to merge into so many Abstract/universal mythologies. And suspended little girls.

genevieve said...

From memory (what? no Google?) LA, Sydney and Beijing were all choreographed by the SAME GUY. Though we can only blame my favourite ballet lady for the first suspended girl. But she's always had a thing for rope.

Juke said...

Isn't there some kind of algorithm for spectacle, how it has to continually supersede the priors, and eventually will hit the limits of human capability, both to create and perceive?
No such thing as static hedonism, any thrill-seeker knows it's got to get bumped up in regular increments to satisfy.
It would be nice, thinks me, instead of merely reflecting the ambitions and desired status of the host country, the pageantry reflected where we are as a species. Plenty of room in that for technological poetry. And transcendent confirmation.
The athletics are pretty much commanded to reflect that, where we are, stripped of artifice, thus no performance-enhancing drugs.
The stunning spectacularity of the intro could be seen easily as performance-enhanced to the max nth degree.
That dichotomy's pertinent, and near universal.

boynton said...

G: ah yes, RB and MT, from memory.

J: For me I think 08 hit the limits of perception. Limit of pyrotechnic perception anyway.

Are we here?
The opening ceremony came complete with glitz and glamour, calling for peace and a better future for the environment, as children painted the globe and chanted slogans about ice caps and global warming.