Well, the London Olympics are over. Now, I am a sports fan in the same way that a brick is aerodynamic — which is to say, not at all — but I nevertheless find myself drawn to watch the Olympics. Perhaps it’s the inspiring spectacle of watching human beings push themselves to their physical limits, or maybe it’s just nice to see nations temporarily stop killing each other for two weeks to play “recess” together instead. In any event, here’s some completely unnecessary thoughts about the 2012 Summer Games.
The Opening Ceremonies were… meh, although to be fair, I’m not sure if my reaction was due to the mind-blowing psychedelia of the ceremony itself or the mind-numbing blather of the NBC commentators trying to explain it. Whereas China entrusted their opening ceremony to the Fifth Generation director of Curse of the Golden Flower and Raise the Red Lantern and got a spectacle of beauty and color, Britain decided instead to go with the director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, who came up with this:
There might have been some other stuff in there too — I vaguely remember some Maypole dancing and a summary of the Industrial Revolution and some kind of British rave in a bouncy house — but I pretty much forgot about them as I was too busy peeing myself in abject terror at the thought that a demented Captain Hook Jack-in-the-Box would kill me and feed me to Voldemort, who would subsequently shit me out as Mary Poppinses.
Of course, the real symbolic purpose of the Opening Ceremony is to light the Olympic Cauldron, which occurred after the month-long Parade of Nations. Now, to be honest, I thought the spectacle of a flower of metal petals rising up and blooming into the form of a cauldron was beautiful and amazing. Nevertheless, every other time it was shown during the Olympics, it looked to me less like a cauldron cradling the Eternal Olympic Flame than something Ghost Rider might take golfing.
However, my real gripe with the Opening Ceremony is this: anyone remotely familiar with British television — and let’s face it, in London there’s bound to be a lot of them — knows that, under the threat of rupturing the wibbly-wobbly fabric of spacetime itself, the 2012 Olympic Torch is meant to be lit by the Doctor:
It’s not like the closing ceremonies were any easier to follow. According to NBC, it was supposed to be less cerebral and less formal and, therefore, easier to follow. Then Fat Boy Slim came out straddling Cthulhu and I just gave up.
No more heroin for you, Mr. Boyle.
Speaking of NBC’s coverage, why did they feel the need to shoot all of Bob Costas’ segments in that weird soft focus? It was like watching a 30′s-era tearjerker. I half expected Costas to don a trenchcoat and a fedora and remind cohost Mary Carillo that “We’ll always have London” before shooing her away on a plane to Lisbon with Matt Lauer.
The Queen B loves swimming and diving, mostly because it features dudes with the physique of Twilight‘s Taylor Lautner dripping wet without the subsequent wet-dog smell. Unfortunately, I really couldn’t get past the personalities of the American men’s team to find it interesting. There was Tyler Clary, who went into the Olympics dissing winningest winner — and fellow teammate! — Michael Phelps as not working hard for his awards and “begging to be beat.” There was also Ryan Lochte, the knuckleheaded blowhard with autographic sneakers and diamond-covered dentures who after also dissing teammate Phelps and declaring “It’s my time!,” instead settled for trademarking “Jeah!” instead. Apparently in addition to swimming, the US swimmers trained in petty dickery.
I’m a big fan of Olympic Gymnastics myself. I marvel at the strength and elegance of the athletes, who must not only take the human body to the edge of strength and agility, but do it with grace and artistry. It also doesn’t hurt that the results of the events are never known immediately, but must emerge from the secret (and seemingly lengthy) machinations of the judges, which adds to the nail-biting drama of the whole affair. Hats off to the Fab Five for all their medals and the Unimpressed Mckayla meme they inspired.
The Queen B and I also spent time watching track and field, which is odd since we both find it to be, well, boring, like NASCAR with sneakers. However, we were both impressed by Oscar Pistorius, the South African “fastest man on no feet,” for whom the Butterfly (obviously) had an immediate affection. While the Olympics can get bogged down on seemingly arbitrary decisions as to whether this or that technology should be allowed to improve human performance (like the so-called shark suits that were banned after the Beijing Olympics), it was refreshing to see them allow a form of technology that simply let someone play the game at all. That sure seems like the spirit of the games to me.
Interestingly enough, the London Olympics’ official title is “The Games of the XXX Olympiad.” I took for granted that the XXX meant Thirtieth, but given that the official logo of the games appears to be Lisa Simpson giving Bart a nob job
and the official mascots of the games were a pair of one-eyed (trouser) snakes
I’m beginning to have second thoughts on that assumption.