The Olympics came to London, everybody talks about the Olympics in London but it’s not all about the sport. It is not even about the transportation making the life of regular Londoners with a job in town a nightmare of titanic proportions. Not entirely, at least. What is making people talk about the Olympics, now in their 4th day if not 5th, is the opening ceremony. Beside the parade of all the national teams involved, with countries that most of us didn’t know about and a choice of songs that is unclear in its dynamics to almost everyone, there are three main topics still on the first pages of magazines.
The ceremony is the result of the effort of a creative team headed by Danny Boyle, who started at the Royal Court Theatre (which is possibly the most politically irreverent venue in the United Kingdom) to end up winning the Academy Award for the direction of Slumdog Millionaire among 8 out of 10 nominations in 2009, and Stephen Daldry who is son to the same theatrical tradition and is known to the broader public for filming the story of the British boy who wanted to dance (namely Billy Elliot).
From the very beginning it appeared to be an obvious elegy of the hosting country, but so are all the opening ceremonies for the Olympics and nobody talks about them so extensively when they are over. The history of the country was reduced to one starting with the pastoral tradition accompanied by a singing of Blake’s Jerusalem. It then went on to the industrial revolution, with Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel reciting Shakespeare while the stage changed under our eyes, thanks to an impressive amount of volunteers, to assume the connotations of an agitprop. It goes without saying that a theatre deriving from 1920s Soviet Russia is oriented to different political parties than David Cameron’s. There was not even the need to hint at the Beatles among WWI veterans and suffragettes, but it has been done. The Olympics in London are a “once in a lifetime” thing for the generation involved, so why not doing the things big?
Someone else described the moment in which the golden rings were created as alluding to a paradise lost in a patriotic way. I think it was probably the least political moment and it was just about the WOW effect you get from the gold and the lights. Especially as the next segment was the first truly irreverent one, the elegy of the National Health Service. Is it an attack to the government, or a hint to one country now guest on British land (a hint, they had wonderful blue jackets in the parade)? The Queen taking part to a Bond short film is also still topic of conversation. In the end, which country can say their Queen (the real one) greeted mr Bond? Oh, wait…
Something that makes people talk days after the event is also the lesbian kiss in the Frankie and June segment. I admit I haven’t seen it, as I probably blinked in that moment (no Weeping Angels, so why should I not blink?), but the world who crashed Twitter let us know that a) it was broadcast in Islamic countries b) it was censored in America. Apparently it’s not true that NBC censored it. I wish they cut it and showed Romney’s face when seeing it, as he was there too.
The reactions to the event is something that have not been shown much but would have been amazing to know. The real ones, not the internet memes about the Queen counting the territories she once owned.