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← Translating the British

Anvil's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Anvil

Comment 28 by kaiserkriss

Anvil, I think you miss my point...

No, jcw, I got your point in its entirety - I simply disagree with it.

...and I suggest you might be caught up in exactly what I was criticizing- a national fervour of feel good and superiority to the rest of the world.

See, this is what I can't understand here?

Did we see the same show?

I can follow your observation of a large group of people feeling good. That is my observation, too. What I can't understand is this superiority to the rest of the world that you speak of?

Where was that?

I thought the whole ceremony was particularly lacking in chauvinism and I delighted in seeing an incredibly diverse culture being reminded of its good points: art, literature, fairness, music, humour, and collective endeavour.

As for being caught up in all this jingoism, what can I say? I'm a fairly un-reconstructed marxist and internationalist who spent a large proportion of his childhood being spat in the face by british troops at border crossings. I felt the flem hit my face as I typed that. My cynicism at most actions of the british state is fairly hard to overcome.

That said, I'll call a spade a spade, and tell it like I see it.

The show was more about celebrating and pointing out differences between Brits and the rest of the world vs an inclusive production pointing out and focusing on the things we all have in common and should ultimately bring us all closer together.

What like? Like literature? Comedy? Universal health care? The internet? The whole show culminates with Tim Berners Lee sat in front of a monitor, tweeting to the world "This is for everyone". I clapped at an inanimate screen.

Every culture has its quirks and idiosyncrasies- that is not uniquely British, but the ability to laugh at oneself and those quirks is very British- admirable and worth emulating and sharing with the rest of the world.

Which is exactly what they did, didn't they?

Just because a country hosts an event like the Olympics, does it give it the right to pound ones chest in a fit of nationalism?

No. It doesn't. I agree.

They all do it and I cringe every time I see it and I think its the wrong approach.

Again, did we watch the same show? I never saw this in London.

It would be truly unique, forward thinking and rational to make one of these ceremonies world inclusive, to include the best things on the planet- show ideals worth emulating, something as simple as rational thought, simple scientific truths, evolution, the literal brotherhood of man (e.g. 200k years common ancestor), something to really think about. Would it be controversial? Probably, but it would also be educational, and food for thought versus a fluff piece forgotten in a couple of weeks.

Obviously there is little, and much, to disagree with in the above paragraph, most of it already said. Ideas worth emulating? It seems you saw none, were I saw many, hence your piece of fluff forgotten in a couple of weeks will remain with me for a long time to come.

That is something I would have expected from the Brits at these Olympics, a leadership role in rational though and the sciences. Expecting something like that from Rio or Saudi Arabia, or some other lesser developed country couldn't be expected.jcw

Leadership. When you get leadership from states in these affairs you tend to end up with Beijing.

When you get leadership from states in these affairs you tend to end up with a slightly overweight child with slightly imperfect teeth hidden away in a box as her beautiful voice is mimed to by a more photogenic, more acceptable child.

As it happened, in London, a right-wing tory government told a city run by a right-wing tory administration to get an organising commitee led by another right-wing tory to give a prominent brit with a successful cv in the arts to spend £29 million on whatever he wanted.

That is exactly what he did.

At a time of austerity, swingeing cuts in public services and back-door privatisation of health care provision - as the rich get the poorest to pay for the failings of the richest - it was interesting to see the forced smiles of many a right wing politician, post-ceremony.

One, Aidan Burley, before the whip was heard to crack, called it "leftist multicultural rubbish".

Of course they quickly jumped from the gravy-train to the bandwagon the moment the cameras swung their way, but both Boyle's genius and genies are out of the bottle:

The British have been told, reminded, by Boyle, that they are a nation who believe in fairness, justice, fair-play and generosity, and are welcoming to people who are not of these shores.

Would what happened to those children in Beijing have happened in London?


He has shown, reminded, the British that 'being in this together' actually means something, that selflessness is a greater virtue than selfishness, (nearly 300,000 people applied to volunteer to help run these games) and though Queenies leap from that helicopter may have given the priviledge of monarchy a few more years, his lindy-hopping nurses have added armour to an institution that is, and should be, a beacon to a civilised world.

There are many things wrong with these occasions - I don't believe Danny Boyle's opening ceremony to be one of them.

One day I'll buy him a large Jameson's and tell how I laughed and cried in equal measure.


Mon, 13 Aug 2012 12:17:55 UTC | #950742