Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vancouver Olympics

Military Review 1908 Quebec Tercentenary.

My husband and I watched the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics last night and we both thought the overall tone a little too RA RA(we're Canada, we're great) was out of place and atypical for our country. American style. Most people wouldn't agree, though.

Yes, the Cirque de Soleil aspects were beautiful, lyrical even breathtaking on occasion (I especially liked the visual of the Polar Ice Caps breaking up)and k.d. Lang's performance of Hallelujah was simply superb, although Nicky Yanofsky's jazzy O Canada reminded me of Jose Feliciano's Star Spangled Banner, years back, wonderful but inappropriate for an anthem.

And Canadians all know that we have many international superstar singers, nice to see some of them. (Not that the rest of the world knows; a few years ago I was in England and people I met thought Leonard Cohen was from New York.) But do these already very famous people need more exposure?

I was dreading the fact the Vancouver Olympic organizers would be dragging out First Nations People to show how important they are to us, and they did do so in spades.

And yet, I'll watch the Olympics, even if the absolutely shocking death of the Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, just 21, reminds us that Better, Higher, Faster, or whatever the slogan is, can't go on forever, despite exponential advances in technology, at least as long as athletes remain flesh-and-blood human beings, products of Nature, and not robots.

The reason I like watching the Olympic Games, in general, is because they celebrate Human Excellence as well as youthful exuberance.

Over the years, because of a more Soviet-style way of training (remember how we Westerners used to mock the Soviet athletes, especially their man-like and unattractive female athletes, for being robotic?)and because of galloping advances in technology, which have led to calmer faster swimming pools and slicker luge tracks and better equipment and science-based training, all athletes have become more like robots, in that three skiers can complete a rigorous downhill skiing course and end up virtually tied for first, finishing perhaps just a couple of hundreds of a seconds apart.

To me that's not competition. To me that's not even exciting. Maybe that's why they've added so many razzle-dazzle events in the Olympics, over the past couple of decades.

I even noticed last night that everyone interviewed on the television seemed to talk in PR generated sound-bites, all very predictable, talking about how wonderful it is that Canadians are getting behind the games, and what an inspiration these games are, especially to children. It all feels a little canned. No, A LOT canned. Rehearsed. So there goes something else we all like in Olympics, those spontaneous oh so human moments when we couch potatoes can recognize ourselves in these sleek super athletes when they say or do something unpredictable. Too much money at stake, I guess, when a young athlete gets the wrong kind of publicity for saying or doing something 'dumb' he or she loses his sponsors.

It's all a bit Brave New Worldish (or Bread and Circuses)to me, especially the irony of seeing these fine youths, in the pink of health, pitch junk food to all the overweight fans, young and old, in the ads that pay for the coverage.
So, I will watch the Olympics, until there are more serious injuries or Heaven Forbid, deaths.

Because I don`t want to feel like a Roman citizen at the Gladiator Games, even if I know that my husband speaks the truth when he says `The crashes, or at least the danger of crashing, are what the viewers like. Remember that "agony of defeat" sequence in Wide World of Sports."
(I can't believe they showed the fatal accident over and over yesterday.)

I just don't think athletes should die for our entertainment.

In my book Flo in the City being written on this blog based on the letters of a character, Margaret Nicholson, visits the Quebec Tercentenary in 1908.

The event was HUGE but is now forgotten, written out of the history books, primarily because it was a military show of force by England and France before WWI.

My first chapter of my play Looking for Mrs. Peel, is about Expo67 year. It contains a link to archival footage of opening ceremonies.