Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Triumphant Olympic Pablum

 

I’d like to thank filmmaker Danny Boyle, architect of this year’s opening ceremonies at the London summer games, for finding a way to encapsulate everything I despise about the modern Olympics:

Filmmaker Danny Boyle has unveiled details of the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, which will see the Olympic Stadium transformed into an idealized version of the British countryside… Boyle, artistic director for the curtain raiser, said the opening scene of the *£27 million ($42 million) extravaganza* will be called “Green and Pleasant” and would create “a picture of ourselves as a nation.” He said the three-hour show was *inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,”* and would be about *a land recovering from its industrial legacy.*

The show will include 10,000 volunteers, including “nurses from Blighty’s National Health Service… 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese, 70 sheep and three sheep dogs”, who have already participated in 157 cast rehearsals and expect their little pretend farming scene to be seen by more than a billion people around the world. Boyle has done us a favor. Could anything better represent the vacuous idiocy of the guilt-ridden peacenik agrarian delusions of the modern Olympics than creating a pricey set-piece of man vs. weeds, and then blasting this “Tempest-inspired” tale to the eyes of the developing world? “See, we’re not like the rest of these bloody Westerners,” it says; “we reject our industrialism and accept that moral demand to produce less carbon and live simpler – and we’ll prove it by blowing $42 million on a super-sized ‘let’s play farming’ playset.”

Guess what folks: conservation is a luxury good. Percent of England’s GDP which comes from agriculture: Two. Know what a nation which decides to reject the advancements of centuries of human endeavor to return to the halcyon days when we worshiped the gods of the crops can’t do? It can’t afford to spend millions of its children’s money so pepper-pot NHS nurses can chase geese around a taxpayer-bankrolled stadium. When the Ancient Greeks opened their games, they did so with days of feasting and song, tales of exploits and the sounds of triumphal trumpets. It’s taken us thousands of years to figure out how to screw that up as royally as possible. Ah, progress.

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  1. Lady Bertrum Inactive

    Sounds like Marie Antoinette’s fake farm.

    • #1
    • June 14, 2012, at 1:04 AM PDT
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  2. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wow, Ben! The rule of thumb I’ve heard is that it’s hard to write well when angry, but you blew that one away with your “vacuous idiocy of the guilt-ridden peacenik agrarian delusions of the modern Olympics”.

    • #2
    • June 14, 2012, at 1:04 AM PDT
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  3. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    James Lileks: “Green and Pleasant” probably has a resonance with Britons, even if they only know it from an Emerson, Lake & Palmer cover version. It’s from a poem by William Blake about Jesus’ apocryphal – to say the least – visit to England. It’s a bit of a cliche. [snip]

    It’s a fascinating coincidence that both England and the US have unofficial national anthems (ours is the Battle Hymn) that are based on bizarro, semi-heretical flights of speculative theology. Theirs:

    our country is so great, the Only Begotten Son of God must have vacationed here!

    Ours:

    our civil war, uniquely among all those ever fought, is the warm-up act for the apocalypse!

    Like I said, a fascinating coincidence. Or, maybe, it’s no coincidence at all!

    • #3
    • June 14, 2012, at 1:11 AM PDT
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  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ben,

    I think you are really on to something here. Perhaps the only way to finally get past the PC crowd is to give them an arena large enough to make complete fools of themselves.

    Maybe Boris Johnson can have a field day with this when it becomes a laughingstock televised around the world.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • June 14, 2012, at 2:05 AM PDT
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  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Okay – confession time. I usually fall hard for these opening ceremonies. Remember the Olympic opening in Greece a few years back? Yeah, I loved that one!

    Of course, I’m even happier when they’re hosted by foreigners and I know I’m not paying for them. Hm… wonder how much of a role the Greek Olympic opening has in Greece’s bankruptcy? That had to set ’em back a few euros. 

    Oh well, pass the bread, we’re off to the circuses!

    • #5
    • June 14, 2012, at 2:06 AM PDT
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  6. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’d rather see Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later: The Musical!

    • #6
    • June 14, 2012, at 3:05 AM PDT
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  7. Brasidas Member
    Ben Domenech: Could anything better represent the vacuous idiocy of the guilt-ridden peacenik agrarian delusions of the modern Olympics than creating a pricey set-piece of man vs. weeds, and then blasting this “Tempest-inspired” tale to the eyes of the developing world? 

    Ben, you’ve captured the sentiment I’ve long held about these grandiose opening ceremonies. Along with the over-the-top production values and silly “up close and personal segments,” they’ve caused me to lose interest in the whole Olympics. And, as you point out, they seem to be steeped in lefty nonsense.

    • #7
    • June 14, 2012, at 4:26 AM PDT
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  8. George Savage Contributor

    Perhaps during the handover from the Chinese government–host of the last Summer Olympiad–there can be a contrast drawn. Beijing today is a smog-choked metropolis bursting with construction cranes, jammed with automobiles and chock-a-block with luxury car dealerships. The “temporary” Chinese I meet on the street are doing everything possible to evade the internal passport system and make permanent their escape from a decidedly green and unpleasant life in the countryside. They prefer the Dickensian cheek-by-jowl chaos of the big city. Anyone care to guess at their motivation?

    • #8
    • June 14, 2012, at 5:03 AM PDT
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  9. Primreaper Member
    Primreaper Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Are you sure you are not describing somebody’s “Farm” on Facebook? It must have taken quite a long time to collect all those animals!

    • #9
    • June 14, 2012, at 7:22 AM PDT
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  10. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Green and Pleasant? I think he meant Green and Peasants.

    • #10
    • June 14, 2012, at 12:39 PM PDT
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  11. The New Clear Option Inactive

    The ancient Romans gave the people bread and circuses. Modern post-industrial Brits: Farmville on Ice.

    • #11
    • June 14, 2012, at 12:39 PM PDT
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  12. James Lileks Contributor

    “Green and Pleasant” probably has a resonance with Britons, even if they only know it from an Emerson, Lake & Palmer cover version. It’s from a poem by William Blake about Jesus’ apocryphal – to say the least – visit to England. It’s a bit of a cliche.

    And did those feet in ancient time.Walk upon England’s mountains green:And was the holy Lamb of God,On England’s pleasant pastures seen! And did the Countenance Divine,Shine forth upon our clouded hills?And was Jerusalem builded here,Among these dark Satanic Mills? Bring me my Bow of burning gold;Bring me my Arrows of desire:Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!Bring me my Chariot of fire! I will not cease from Mental Fight,Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:Till we have built Jerusalem,In England’s green & pleasant Land

    “Dark Satanic Mills”could mean the early manifestations of the Industrial Revolution or the C of E or possibly an outlet mall in suburban Virginia.

    • #12
    • June 14, 2012, at 12:47 PM PDT
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