Fanfare for the Common Man: The opening ceremonies

  • Tuesday, July 31, 2012

There are many things for which I do not care.
The top four of these things are – and in no particular order – Bonanza reruns, movies in which dogs speak, anything ending in Kardashian, and the Olympic opening ceremonies.
I don’t get it.
But then I still don’t get the reason behind the Super Bowl halftime shows, either. Once you’ve seen Michael Jackson come flying out of the floor or Janet Jackson’s shirt come off, there’s really no point in trying again, is there? Just let the band play and run some commercials.
I hate TV-created moments solely created for TV.
What better way to define a medium’s self-worth than to stage a 3-hour spectacle that nobody watching can understand and then try to make everybody understand?
The Olympic opening ceremonies reached their peak in Atlanta in 1996 when a Parkinson’s Syndrome-riddled Mohammed Ali magically appeared at the top of the staircase to take the torch from Janet Evans and light a cauldron that looked a lot like a super-sized order of McDonald’s French fries.
Even Dick Enberg (oh my goodness!) was summarily full of shock and awe. That was THE moment, for sure. How do you top Ali? You can’t.
Atlanta had to rise to the occasion following the whole Robin Hood arrow shot to light the Olympic cauldron in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. On its own merit an impressive shot, and the only way to put the definitive “USA! USA!” exclamation mark on anything is to have the most recognizable man on the planet in Ali to light the flame.
Sydney had to follow Ali and they tried with Cathy Freeman and the cauldron (on fire actually) rising out of the water around her. Freeman got a firsthand look at what the Aussies mean by “on the barbie.”
Athens tried to top Sydney in 2004 with what looked like a giant cigarette, and Bejing had the dude running along the top of the stadium in 2008. Big yawn moments both of them.
Now it’s London’s turn.
The problem with Sydney, Athens, Bejing and London is that we don’t know who their venerable star athletes are and we don’t care. So for us this was three hours of wasted time. We only know the Queen. And she was filing her nails.
Can you blame her? She’s 86. It was past her bedtime.  She is the living embodiment of ceremonial pomp and circumstance. This woman has truly seen it all. Remember, this lady made Paul McCartney take a knee. 
So when Great Britain’s Olympic team marched into the stadium, after she’d spent the last two hours pretending to look interested for the preceding 205 teams, she found a hangnail.
This is a team that hasn’t yet accomplished anything beyond finding their way to the stadium on time. This woman has seen the Beatles. Her dad was buddies with Winston Churchill. She hung out with James Bond.
At least she didn’t have to listen to Bob Costas and Matt Lauer drone on and on and on and on for three hours.  
Seeing how I had a Brillo pad, toothpicks and a grapefruit spoon at the ready to scour the images and sounds from my eyes and ears – I just watched the highlights – I’m sure the Queen was trying to fashion that hangnail into a crude, barbed cutting instrument with which she could gouge out her jugular.
Or Matt Lauer’s. 

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