Four years ago I sat in a room with a group of friends collectively known as "The Dropkicks" and recorded a podcast. The actual opening ceremony wouldn't start for a few hours but we had everything we needed to predict what would happen: two bottles of rum, beers and assorted wine. A young Russell Brown showed up as well and we all had a grand old time.
During this podcast we postulated an elaborate, politicised and, frankly, insane opening ceremony filled with actual dragons and tanks and billions of small children running with ribbons and then tanks jumping the small children. None of what we came up with under the influence of alcohol compares to this:
Before 40-foot-Voldemort appears, "about 100" children will be wheeled out on hospital beds to perform "a choreographed 'bed dance,'" which sounds quite sexy but probably is not. To these one hundredish beds will be added a dozen more "giant" ones, on which will dance/frolic/be such beloved storybook characters as The One Hundred and One Dalmatians' dog-skinning villain Cruella de Vil. Then and only then will 40-foot-Voldemort himself arrive, rising up from yet another giant bed in the middle of the stadium. To recap: All the action to this point has taken place in some sort of bed.
About 30 actors each depicting Mary Poppins, the magical English nanny played by Julie Andrews in the 1964 Disney film, will descend from the roof of the stadium on wires and “float” to the ground with their opened umbrellas. The nightmare will be banished and happiness restored. “It’s a jaw-dropping sequence,” said one source.
Before every Olympics there is controversy reported. I assume because when the games actually kicks off all the news is depressingly positive that there needs to be a long build-up of stories describing just how awful the games will be.
Before Sydney it was Aborginal rights, transport and accommodation. Before Athens it was the slow speed of venue construction. Before Beijing it was human rights abuses. And before London it's inept public officials.
The bitching is endless. Cabbies are angry they can't use official Olympic lanes. You can eat chips if they come with fish otherwise they must come from McDonalds. There won't be enough security guards and the ones they do have might not speak English all that well. But don't worry because we're putting missiles on your roof.
I'm not sure how much of the complaints are the usual anglo-saxon whinging and self-deprecation and how much are legitimate complaints (like the recent job seekers forced to work the Jubilee story).
Much like last year's World Cup, there seems to have been the looming threat that good hard- working individuals will be set upon by security in order to protect sponsors. Paul Lukas from the Uniwatch blog and ESPN said:
“The biggest issue, to me, isn’t the branding crackdown. It’s the endlessly repeated rationale for the branding crackdown. Official after official keeps saying, ‘[Sponsor X] paid millions of pounds, so of course we’re going to protect their interests,’ and these statements keep going unchallenged, as if it’s acceptable to put a price on boorish behavior. It’s like a Congressman saying, ‘Of course I created a regulatory loophole for so-and-so’s business. After all, he bribed me.’”
These are the issues facing the Olympics right now. In a week it'll be drugs and medals and how everyone is secretly terrified that China is the new USSR and will dominate the games.
I am hoping to see some of those amazing super-human moments where you just can't turn away and maybe have a wee tear in your eye because it's all just so nice. Because that's what I like to think the Olympics are about.
Yes there are politics and money and awful back room deals but sometimes there are nice things too and I'd like to think it was actually all about that. Oh, and gathering together a bunch of gorgeous super-humans so they can screw each other's brains out.