I sat through the opening ceremonies last night. I wasn't particularly impressed with the nearly naked men hanging from the sky
, the performance art
theater of living statues
, the brightly painted props that at times seemed ripped from an elementary school drama production
, the nesting doll
flag bearers or the lady giving birth to E.T. in the middle of the pond. And I hardly was impressed listening Katie Couric punctuate her inane ramblings with, well, more inane ramblings.
That's not to say the whole ceremony was over-decorated crap. I thought this part was neat
, as was the opening bit with the two drummers. The idea they had was nice, but it came off more like an opening night at an avant garde art gallery rather than the Olympics. All that was missing was the haughty waiter serving champagne and Brie.
It was all about the subtext. I listened carefully to the crowd as each country was announced, as most of you probably did as well. I was pleased to hear the nice reception for the U.S. It was heartwarming to hear the rolling applause for Afghanistan and Iraq (and yes, I did get a little choked up when both those countries appeared, especially at the sight of an Afghan woman at the Olympics). So, you say, no subtext then? Au contraire.
Allah covered this in his usual succinct and biting way (he's able to convey with twenty words and a well placed photo what I take 5,000 words to say) and I have to concur with most of the observations.
I watched the Iran contingent carefully, after hearing the story of the Iranian athlete who wants to withdraw from the Olympics rather than touch a Jew
. Sure enough, as the Israeli group passed by the them, the Iranians turned their backs
What an absolute disgrace. After all the pageantry and lessons of the opening spectacle, after all the times it's been drilled into our heads that the Olympics bring people together, those cretins have to behave like that. Sure, it's not the first time the dark side of politics entered the Olympic arena and it won't be the last, but it still makes me spitting mad.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have this photo
of the Iraqi athletes and American athletes together. Now that, my friends, is heartwarming. That photo is one of those magical moments that I used to watch the Olympics for.
Turning back to Allah's post for a minute, he has transcribed this exchange between Katie Couric and Bob Costas:
[Saudi team enters]
Couric: I love when the athletes wear their traditional clothing. This is not traditional, this is worn still in Saudi Arabia.
Costas: Since the wakeup call of 9/11, Americans have become more aware of aspects of Saudi society beyond the oil and their nominal status as a U.S. ally. Those aspects include widespread religious extremism and an antipathy towards women's rights, and here in Athens, there are 21 members of the Saudi delegation. None are women.
Couric: [Silence. For nine seconds.]
Of course there was silence. Couric has nothing of value to add to a statement like the one Costas made. She suddenly found herself in a situation where a big smile and perky laugh wasn't appropriate to see her through.
Don't even get me started on the U.S. basketball team. Though Alan Iverson did manage to smile once
, they sauntered around looking like a bunch of kids who escaped from the Group Home for Attitude Problems.
While the media is crowing about the wonderful start the Olympics got off to - because everyone knows
that frilly costumes and prancing ponies signifies that everything is A-OK - I've already got a bad taste in my mouth because this anti-Semite
and his back-turning brethren have already tainted the proceedings.
Let the games begin.
[if anyone finds a photo of the lady with the glowing stomach, please let me know]