Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

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Opening Ceremony

For the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, NBC had some sort of expert on Russian politics helping with the commentary, providing cultural context and interpreting the political subtext. Several times during the event he said something to the effect of, "You can't separate politics from the Olympics."

Well, even if that's true, they sure managed to minimize them during the Vancouver Games. I remember that Opening Ceremony well because I later bought a DVD of the highlights which included most of it, and they didn't have any special sociopolitical commentators, just regular sports commentators. I know, I know; different cultural environment entirely. Canada has a good relationship with us and, it seems, with the rest of the world as well. I like to think of Canada as the US's overachieving older sibling, with us (the US) as the rebellious younger sibling, resentfully disparaging the older sibling while secretly coveting their accomplishments.

Anyway, I understand the reason for having the sociopolitical commentator there--I even think it was a good idea--but I found the particular expert they found to be a little off-putting. Specifically, I thought he was really unnecessarily snide when discussing the "sanitized" version of Russian history presented in the ceremony. Traditionally, I haven't paid THAT close attention to the Olympic opening ceremonies, but I think most host countries typically gloss over the less pleasant aspects of their history.

And, knock on wood, but at least things have been civil thus far. (I know; it's really early yet.) Israel and Iran had to march in close succession in the Parade of Nations, which must have been a tense moment backstage, but at least there weren't any visible incidents. (Though it was probably a good move to shunt them off in different directions thereafter. I really thought the whole Parade of Nations was well rehearsed and well organized.) Moreover, all things considered, I was pleasantly surprised by the very cordial reception the US team got from the crowd.

All in all, it was impressive. In terms of pure aesthetics, disregarding any political subtext, it was quite beautiful. I just wish I could relax and enjoy.

On a lighter note, I have some suggestions for Russia on ways that they can improve on what Vancouver did:

1. Give the medalists prettier flower bouquets. And by "prettier," I mean "having a color other than green."

2. Use a nice orchestral arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner". In Vancouver, they used a concert band arrangement, and don't get me wrong, I have nothing against concert band. I played in many concert bands over the course of ten years or so; I even made All-State. But "The Star-Spangled Banner" sounds so much prettier when played by an orchestra. If you have to use a concert band arrangement, try to find one by the same guy who arranged this version of "America the Beautiful". (Note: I do not know if such an arrangement exists.)

Also, for the sake of brevity in the medal ceremonies, it might be nice if you cut out maybe five minutes or so of your own national anthem.
Tags: olympics
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