To say that I was looking forward to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics would be an exaggeration. I was mostly indifferent but slightly interested in case there was a bit of an emergency, if you know what I mean.
So what does that reveal about me or the lure of the games or both?
Before I suggest an explanation, I have to confess that I fell asleep about two hours after the ceremony began and woke up briefly when the athletes began their parades, so for all I know something truly unexpected might have occurred and I will learn about it this morning.
From the instant the ceremony began I was confronted by thousands of performers who were adept at doing things together. There is one word to describe what I saw- “synchronisation”. All those people had spent years moving together to near perfection. They jumped and swirled and chanted together and it seemed as if the aim was to fill the arena with as many performers as possible.
Some viewers would be impressed by all that but I felt it was too crowded and impersonal. In fact, the only time I became actively interested is when, on the rare occasion, there were only a couple of performers on stage. Perhaps it’s because I know that it’s no big deal to collect thousands of Chinese into an arena. After all, there are millions from whom to choose.
In my opinion, the ceremony was too crowded to be shown at its best on television. Even a large screen would not do it justice. Previous Olympics ceremonies did look good on TV but last night it really was a case of “you had to be there.”
So what does all that say about me? I can’t speak for anyone else but I am not a fan of digitally enhanced whatever. I am not impressed by hundreds of thousands of people moving to the right or left, forward or back or jumping up and down in unison. There is the niggling suspicion in me that says, so many years lost on such an expensive waste of time.
As for the lure of the games, I am no longer a fan of the Olympics because they are too professional, too political and too chemically-enhanced. For me, the thrill disappeared years ago after the East German “ladies” and those other rather large Oriental swimmers appeared on the scene.
I might have missed it but there seemed to be no humour in the performances at the opening ceremony, or hardly any moments of levity, which could offer a welcome respite from the congregating hoards.
My heart went out to all those peformers who had been bussed into the Bird’s Nest for so many years and now would be bussed out again for good.
I sincerely hope that they enjoyed the ceremony. As for me, I feel a little guilty that I was bored, but then what I learned about Chinese culture during the ceremony made me feel sorry for a country that promotes such conformity. On the other hand, with such a large population, perhaps it has to.