Ahhh, yes. My favorite time of the year...actually of every other year...or, in this case...my favorite time of every four years...you get it.
It is Olympic Season!! And last night was the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony.
The Opening Ceremony always sets the tone for the Games. It is the "make or break" moment of the two week competition. The Opening Ceremony is what determines whether we will watch the Olympics with rapt enthusiasm, or if we will snooze our way through the Games, waking only to see us receiving the Gold on the podium or to listen to Bob Costas' closing comments each night.
Judging from the Opening Ceremony two years ago, in Vancouver, I have to say I was a little apprehensive about how London would pull their party off. Considering Vancouver's Opening Ceremony was...um....well...weird and that England is their Mother Ship...I believe I had cause for concern. But the Brits didn't disappoint.
I think the greatest thing London had going for it's Opening Ceremony was the way they honored us. That is us...US. From their giant Liberty Bell over their stage, to the way they played "My Country Tis of Thee" (even though it was with a verse I don't remember singing in school....), to the way they included that American cult classic, Wayne's World with Queen's (the rock band, not the monarch...though that would have made it even BETTER!) Bohemian Rhapsody spot! The Brits seemed to go out of their way to let the Americans know they are loved there! I actually felt delirious encouragement that they might start construction on Piccadilly Circus to transform it from evil roundabout to American-friendly four way intersection! I even liked their cheeky nickname for Al Gore....Tim Berners-Lee.
Perhaps the biggest concession the British made toward the US last night was their glorification of the game of rugby in their opening film shots. You may recall that the last time rugby was an Olympic sport was in 1924. You may also recall that rugby is Europe's attempt at football,which may explain why the US has won more Olympic Gold Medals than any other country in the sport. I admire how Great Britain gave us that nod...unlike the French, who when we won our second Gold Medal in rugby at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, discontinued the sport as an Olympic event. The whole history of rugby at the Olympics seems to be an analogy for our European relations. They try something, we make it better, the Brits become our big cheerleaders and the French whine. I think I will really enjoy watching rugby in Rio in 2016!
But....I digress. Back to last night.
The only time I had issue with the Opening Ceremony last night was when the Brits tried to actually do things...well...British.
Now, don't get me wrong. I really liked the musical scores. And I loved how they upcycled the set of The Hobbit for center stage, even casting Kenneth Branagh as Bilbo Baggins (that is who he was, right?), and how they used Isengard as the setting for the Industrial Revolution...BUT...all that seemed to be overshadowed by Britain's shameful plug of illicit drugs. Something always goes wrong when the Crown gets involved in a drug sequence. Remember the fiddle playing, canoe riding, shadow dueling devil on the moon at the Vancouver Olympics????
Oh, I know they called it a DREAM sequence, but sky high Cruella DeVilles, Voldemorts, and Red Queensterrorizing little children in the Great Ormand Street Hospital could not be redeemed no matter HOW many Mary Poppins dropped in!!!! At the completion of the dream/nightmare/drug sequence, my seven year old said, "That was scary.", just as Matt Lauer announced his agreement with, "Now that was CREEPY!" I don't know if my kids could sleep last night after that, but I couldn't! I mean, who thought THAT was a good idea?? At least the Canadians could blame Screech.
|Ahhh...the things dreams are made of. YIKES!|
|Hmmmm...who will win? Umbrella Wielding Nanny or Evil Warlock?|
And is there anything more fun than watching our beloved Zazu in "I Just Can't Wait to be Bean"? Yes, Rowan Atkinson's Mr Bean does Chariots of Fire was GENIUS!
Only one thing could top it.....and you know what that is! Oh yes!
In all seriousness, it was pure brilliance to end with Sir Paul McCartney singing such an loved song! As I looked around at all the nations there, though....nations like Canada, Fiji, Belize, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Kenya, the United States...singing along, I could not help noticing how many used to be British Colonies. And I began to think Paul should have instead sang....
You Say You Want a Revolution.....!!
All in all, the ceremonies were great! And everyone, from every nation, all over the world participated and seemed to overwhelmingly enjoy the festivities. Well....everyone but one....
But, hey, let's give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe parachuting into the stadium was just too tickety boo for her.
Let the Games begin!