A curious thing happened on the way to the Olympics

Pardon me for being deeply suspicious but by Saturday morning, the litany of heavy criticism of these Olympics had reached its zenith in the comments on the opening ceremony, of which this was typical:

Politically correct and brimming with socio-political messages stuffed “down ya throat mate” at every opportunity marred so many good ideas. Perhaps it was a question of balance which I and others here may have missed. Was genuinely taken aback by the large proportion of non-native population performing (with BBC TV camera work highlighting the point at every available opportunity- or so it may have seemed). Britain’s future yawned before me. Am I wrong? Cultural self-destruction prepared by generations of idealistic fools is no longer impossible.

… and a quick check of the hundreds of comments at the Telegraph and Mail respectively revealed that about 80% were more or less in this vein,some nicer, some more scathing.

Suddenly, in the space of of one day, an article went up at the Mail, praising the ceremony to the heavens and accompanying it with a “reader survey” which showed that 63% of people thought it the most wonderful ceremony ever.  All negatives were heavily red-arrowed.   Similarly, at the Telegraph online, top right was the news that we all thought it was the most superb ceremony ever.

The Daily Mash saw fit to run:

Everything just so exciting

… so clearly they harbour suspicions as well.

How, in the name of Lord Coe, could the vast majority of readers suddenly switch from caustic commentary and red-arrowing any who praised the ceremony to the diametric opposite?   This had me doubting what I’d been seeing – until, that is, I read this piece from Canada Free Press, sent by Chuckles:

The creative mind behind the opening ceremony has got a unanimous national pat on the back for his efforts as a global audience of 4 billion got to watch London awash in a sentimental lovefest of its cultural touch points. The papers are orgasmic with reports of the “best ever opening ceremony” amidst calls for Boyle’s knighthood.

But scratch the surface beneath the parade of iconic double decker buses, Big Ben and Tower Bridge, and you will find that ruling the night was a worship of socialism, wrapped up in a creed of sentimental societal justice, all laced with sinister elements that made this viewer cringe.

The highly selective trawl through British history notably excluded even a hint of the largest empire the world has ever known. No colonies mentioned or the civilizing force Britain brought to all four corners of the world. It is far too politically incorrect to suggest that native peoples did not invent the parliamentary system.

Not a whiff of Magna Carta, or dare I say any of the great saints and martyrs that stood and died for real principle. Instead we had Queen Elizabeth II agree to star in a short film alongside Daniel Craig’s James Bond, who ‘escorted’ her by helicopter before parachuting into the stadium, her stunt double’s skirts flying up to reveal long knickers.

Under the auspices of celebrating British childrens’ literature lurked the moral rot no one will speak of in the happy clappy lovefest of British talent. JK Rowling, the author responsible for turning a generation of impressionable minds onto the occult in her Harry Potter books, introduced this segment with the famous opening lines of Peter Pan, while we witnessed a colossal assembly of villains from Cruella de Vil and the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Child Catcher to Voldemort and an assortments of evil ghouls running around the sweet children still in their hospital beds. Mary Poppins came flying in to save the day, but the segment ended with a weird giant infant head in a bed with no visible body.

Now there are two quite significant issues arising from this:

1. If the sudden u-turn at the Mail was not a lobotomy on the prefrontals of the readers, then the Mail has been guilty, along with the Telegraph, of wilfully telling porkies and running false polls, of flagrant political manipulation – and I’m the only one who noticed the u-turn?

2. In the light of CFP’s last paragraph above, there were actually people who loved that ideological claptrap and touchy-feely false British history?    There were actually people who, through a general ignorance of the real British history, swallowed all that as authentic and were wowed by it? Who saw the symbolism and dark tone as just a bit of harmless fun?

Look, if you pour millions into an opening ceremony, you’re always going to be able to have:

205 copper petals carried in by each team during the athletes’ entrance … assembled on the tips of a huge open flower-like sculpture and lit before rising to close and form one enormous cauldron of many flames. Or … those impressive 640,000 LED pixels set in over 70 thousand small panels mounted between the spectator’s seats that erupted in a magnificent display of colour and light that gave Piccadilly Circus a run for its money.

Yes, you’ll of course be able to run a spectacle like something out of Mordor, dripping with dark atmosphere, with the swaying masses chanting in unison, the torch representing something quite different to what is sold to the punters:

One ring rules them all.


Left fantasyland:


Land of Sanity:


11 comments for “A curious thing happened on the way to the Olympics

  1. July 29, 2012 at 21:36

    …One ring rules them all…

    Now with that in mind go watch the ceremony (it is available to watch on BBC sports Channel) and see what else you see, that is directly related 😉

    I spotted something and so did a couple of others…

  2. July 30, 2012 at 00:28

    The innovative and highly dramatic formation of the torch impressed me. The NHS has served me well and (despite its many faults) is one of the most envied things about the UK among my foreign friends who have no such equivalent to rely on, so although initially striking me as a bit odd I could see why it deserved its place. And it is strange how those who bemoan the immigration that is to a considerable extent a direct result of the Empire are so often the same people who are so proud of the Empire. Last time I was in London I found an ethnic mix that pretty much matched what I saw at the ceremony. The ceremony seemed intended to reflect certain key events within the country (obviously not all, there were bound to have to be big omissions), and thus the arrival of immigrants that was clearly depicted represented the internal consequence of the external Empire. As a confirmed Olympic cynic I was expecting a damp squib or a disaster, but I was somewhat impressed (although not by the croaking of old Macca at the end). As for scaring the kids with bedtime stories then shooing the demons away with Mary Poppinses… don’t know what to make of that. I know that reading the Bible at night used to scare the heck out of me sometimes, though. Oh, and the cycling white luminous doves were impressive, although sinister conspiratorial strategies can be moulded around pretty much any event if you try. The Industrial Revolution section could be seen as a right-wing celebration and justification of brutal corporate capitalism if you wanted. At least the whole thing wasn’t a complete and embarrassing balls-up (unlike the men’s cycling road race), nobody managed any act of terrorism, the fireworks did not set off the surface to air missiles, the police and the army didn’t beat anybody up, the disgruntled populace didn’t start a riot and it didn’t start pouring rain, so for that relief much thanks. Am glad it will be over soon, however, and our taxes can then perhaps be better spent (though largely wasted on further nonsense, more likely). But I’ll be watching, especially to see how many new names are added to the 200 or so athletes that have failed dope tests worldwide in the past few months. At least one major medalist will eventually be disgraced, I’m sure, with others using clever chemists to slip through the net, oh… and a convicted past doper won that cycling road race I hear. How inspiring a message for the young. I await the closing ceremony with eager anticipation, not least to see if the Queen could at least try to look ever so slightly interested for a change. I do sympathise with her though, having to watch such an odd cast as the people of modern Britain cavorting before her puzzled eyes.

  3. July 30, 2012 at 05:17

    Those Canadians must be smoking some real good weed. “But scratch the surface beneath the parade of iconic double decker buses, Big Ben and Tower Bridge”

    Hmmnnn… I guess I must have watched some other opening ceremony.Where all the double decker busses had been edited out. Tho I do amit I might have missed some bits as I was at an “Olympic” party.. Maybe the CFP were making stuff up because they couldnt be bothered to watch it all or maybe they mixed it up with the Bejing handover?

    Most of any “cultural” references were lost on US Citizens anyway, excpept Bond and Voldemort. Someone wondered if IKB might be Abe, the stovepipe hat and tree did it.

    All those old fashioned nurses and beds went on a bit. The consensus was “children’s lierature” scary and reassuring but highbrow-ish ^_^.

    Whatever. Everyone agreed it was awsome, spectacular.

    As for the profile of the people taking part. We are talking London here. Local people doing it for free, what else did you expect?

  4. July 30, 2012 at 19:08

    “When I think of Britain, the royal family comes to mind. Knights in armor. Swords. Arthurian legend. Newton. Shakespeare. Eddington. Hobbits. Double-decker buses. Castles and palaces. […] I think of brilliant individuals who have changed the world. And Danny Boyle included some of that. But I do not think of a soviet-style utopia where faceless factory workers hammer away at metal, apparently in service of the state. And a healthcare system where one first has to survive a long waiting period before running the gauntlet in a hospital.”


  5. July 30, 2012 at 19:17

    @ Moggsy,

    As I said on the other thread I think I was watching a different ceremony to everyone else. It seems you were watching the same one as me 😉 Everyone I have talked to was pleasantly surprised by the ceremony and thought it was wonderful.

  6. Wolfie
    July 30, 2012 at 20:39

    I entirely agree James, even my wife started laughing at the none too subtle propaganda. More a history of British socialism than Britain herself.

    Like I did at lunch today I will however not elaborate farther as I can see I’m not going to get much agreement with others.

    Shame there was little of the British contribution to world health such as penicillin or immunology (I could go on all day) rather than our NHS. Strewth.

  7. July 30, 2012 at 20:50

    Cherie says: “Everyone I have talked to was pleasantly surprised by the ceremony and thought it was wonderful..”

    Banned says: “27 million of us are supposed to have watched it but that did not include me nor any of the seven people I asked on Saturday and Sunday.”

    There it is. One left, one libertarian right. End of story eh? 🙂 Two completely different worlds within the shores of the one nation.

  8. July 30, 2012 at 22:53

    Well James I am neither left or right in thinking, I thought we had got that sorted out a long time ago…

    But my real point which you didn’t pick up on from the other thread is how can you have an opinion on the ceremony when you didn’t watch it?

    Your opinion is based on other peoples opinions of what they saw. (secondary sources, they may be leading you down a dark alley…)

    My opinion is based on my own thoughts after watching the ceremony twice. The second time to make sure I wasn’t befuddled and check my thoughts due to your commenters having opposite opinions to mine.

    The people I have talked to have quite diverging political viewpoints, so not one versus one but several versuses thinking the same thing.

    As I said before, please watch the ceremony for yourself and see what ‘you’ see 🙂

    Now back to ‘up, up and away’ and not talking politics. What shall we talk about in that hot air balloon?

    The strawberries are very sweet and the champagne is bubbly 🙂

  9. July 31, 2012 at 04:50

    Absolutely what Cherry said… “how can you have an opinion on the ceremony when you didn’t watch it?” and exactly my point about some of those quotes you had in the other post from people who never watched it.

  10. August 2, 2012 at 10:14

    I did watch it. And it’s perfectly easy to have an opinion, even if I hadn’t. It’s based on trusted sources.

    When I did see it, those sources were confirmed yet again. In a similar way, newspapers trust the people who feed them data.

  11. August 2, 2012 at 13:48

    James, I as I did clearly mention was speaking more about the people who didn’t see it you were quoting, but also in principle., no need to be defensive

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