I don’t get anything about what I’ve been watching for the last few days. Maybe for the past few Olympics. Things were simpler when I was a kid, when the Olympics were nothing more than the Cold War in athletic form. It seemed to matter then; I seemed to care. But every passing of the torch leaves me sitting in blinking bemusement on my couch, asking a series of snarky questions that all amount to “what the hell is going on?”
So am I drunk, or did I actually watch the Queen of England pretend to parachute from a plane with the actor who plays James Bond? And is it no more than a sign of creeping age that I can not help but wonder if her father was even asked to do anything remotely theatrical at the last London Olympics in ’48?
And could Danny Boyle really come up with no better way to illustrate the change from an industrial to a digital Britain than an ersatz After-School Special set to every last hit song from the 1960’s forward, the message of which seemed to be that cell phones lead to house party sex? And why did the one song NBC had to cut off for station identification have to be “Pretty Vacant”, which would seem to be the theme of the whole exercise?
But more important, do we really need all of that to interest us in the Olympics? Must every opening ceremony be a three-hour multimedia infomercial for the host country? Can’t they just run the torch in and make with the volleyball?
Of course, if everything just started with the Parade of Nations, I’d still find myself crabbing about, of all things, clothes. I don’t know why the Russian team was wearing cowboy hats and the American team was wearing berets. I don’t know who told the German team that they looked good dressed as Teletubbies. I don’t know why the British team went with the Gay Astronaut look. All I know is that the dishdashas worn by Arab athletes looked stately and dignified by comparison. Clearly the terrorists’ mind control experiments are a success.
And then, two weeks of gymnastics, the figure skating of the Summer games. Every four years I have to re-learn the difference between a lutz and a salchow, and every four years I feel the compulsion to yell at a group of teenage tumblers regarding their failure to Stick The Landing. Meanwhile, a 33-year-old skeet shooter from El Monte, CA, just became the first American athlete to win five individual medals in five consecutive Olympics. They couldn’t show that instead of the Men’s Semifinal Qualifying Non-medal Heat?
For more on the inherent creepiness of
girls’ women’s gymnastics, see Stacy McCain.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to shout “USA! USA!” louder, so I can avoid the quadrennial complaint about the lack of javelin and fencing coverage.