Saturday, July 28, 2012

That I Can't Stop Talking About the Olympics

The following quote is what I said to anyone and everyone who would or would not listen to me today. I just could not stop talking about the London Olympics. 

"And there was James Bond with the Queen jumping out of a helicopter and then they had agrarian and industrial revolution dances and then they celebrated their healthcare and children's british literature and kids danced on hospital beds and J.K. Rowling read Peter Pan and THEN it was a nightmare and there was the Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook AND a hundred foot tall Lord Voldemort with a wand that shot sparks BUT THEN hundreds of Mary Poppins came down from the sky and defeated him and tucked the kids into bed and then there was a modern love story dance sequence and they were at a club and had a house party and there was popular British music and there was fireworks and flying light up winged bicycles and Paul McCartney and and...IT WAS SO GOOD!"

And that's when my coworker asked if I went on an acid trip last night. For those of you who saw the ceremony, you know that I didn't and you understand where my childlike excitement is coming from. For those of you who didn't see it, it's very important that you read this blog post.

The Queen and Bond
Alright. Let's talk about this opening ceremony. It began with the most bad ass entry of the Queen ever. That's right. Queen Elizabeth, bad ass. Daniel Craig (AKA James Bond) entered the castle where he met our lovely Lizzie and her corgis. The two were seen on the big screen movie entering a helicopter and flying over London landmarks. Next, a helicopter entered the arena and the queen was seen jumping out to the Bond theme song under a Union Flag parachute (it wasn't actually her, but we can pretend). SO COOL, right? So after that beginning how can you not love the London 2012 Olympics already? But don't worry, there is SO MUCH MORE.

Voldemort and Poppins
So next, we're going to take a little trip through Great Britain history. We get to see the agrarian era, which is complete with grassy hillsides and lovely scenery. Next, we are transformed into the industrial revolution. We were shown actors depicting the industrial revolution through mining and factory jobs. Additionally, my sources (American announcers on NBC) tell me that sulfur was pumped into the stadium to fully recreate the vision, sound and scent of the revolution. Next we move into what I deem to be the best part of the ceremony, an act called "Second Star to the Right". This title is representative of the British children's story, Peter Pan. This act was created to celebrate the British National Health care System as well as British Children's literature. It begins with children dancing in pajamas on hospital beds as doctors and nurses do the same around them (fun fact: apparently these were real doctors and nurses!). The upbeat music fades and the children fall asleep, drifting in to dreamland. Cue J.K. Rowling reading an excerpt from Peter Pan. Suddenly, the peaceful dreamland shifts into a nightmare. We are shown classic villains from British literature such as The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook and Lord Voldemort. Don't worry, they are soon defeated by hundreds of Mary Poppins descending from the sky and crushing evil before tucking the children into bed.

Next, Britain celebrates the newest era, the technology era. This includes a modern love story of a boy and a girl set in a club to a slew of popular British songs from the last fifty or so years. The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Timothy Berners Lee, is there to assist in the celebration. Personally, I had never heard of the man and didn't know he was British so kudos to Danny Boyle for giving him his moment in the spotlight. These various acts of the opening brought together generations. Me? I loved it because it included Harry Potter, Peter Pan and Mary Poppins (hey there childhood!). It also included the soundtrack to another generation, the songs my parents grew up with through the 60's to the present day. From James Bond, Queen Elizabeth, and Paul McCartney to clubbing, J.K. Rowling and the world wide web the London 2012 Opening Ceremony united countries around the world and generations of time.

Cue the Parade of Nations. Some will say that this takes far too long and they wish the United States wasn't so far in. Personally, I love to watch it all. I love to see every country acknowledged and given their moment to shine. You get to hear of countries you have never heard of, you learn interesting facts about each nation and it's interesting to compare the number of athletes from each country. Great Britain has 557 and the United States has 534. Many nations only have two. My favorite part of the Parade of Nations though is watching the athletes. Every athlete, no matter their home nation looks excited and proud. Many of them are walking with their cameras, filming the arena and the entire thing. Think about it. Thousands of people are filming them saying "Wow, look at these amazing athletes" but these athletes are just normal people who are filming this event thinking "Wow, I can't believe I get to be here doing this." It's very cool to see. On another note, the Americans did not look American. They wore Ralph Lauren outfits (which were made in China) that included blue blazers, berets, scarves and pleated white skirts/pants. It was definitely a new look for Americans. The Brits, of course, looked awesome and they knew it. Good for them!
Now, let's talk about David Bekham. We saw the ever handsome, well dressed, man (who I MAY have to seduce away from Victoria and his children) riding down the Thames looking more attractive than ever. Bekham gave the torch to a past Olympic athlete, who carried it off before giving it off to the next generation of British Olympic athletes. This was great and very symbolic. These young athletes lit the cauldron, which then rose in a very cool manner. Fireworks were ignited. I love fireworks (plus, I didn't get any for the fourth of July this year). Paul McCartney sings "Hey Jude", encouraging the entire arena to join in. The athletes are seen singing, smiling, laughing. The curtain drops, welcome to the London Olympics 2012. 
Just look at him. That smile, the face, the suit. Swoon.

Note: I'm watching the Olympics as I write this post, which is very distracting. Lochte just DOMINATED. 

So now we've learned that London and all things British will always have my heart and that the Olympics are badass. Let's go a little bit further.

The Olympics originated from Greece, as an ancient tradition. It is said that Hercules and Zeus were the creators. These games involved fighting, chariot racing and athletic events. This ancient tale inspired the creation of the modern Olympics. The first games were held in 1896 in none other than their home city of Athens. London had the honor this year of becoming the first city to host three Olympics. They hosted in 1908 and in 1948. 1948 was an important year as it was the first Olympics held after World War II. London had won the Olympics in 1944 but the events were canceled due to World War II. In 1948, Germany and Japan were not invited because of the trouble they had caused during the war. Is this fair? I say, it's not. The Olympics are historically a time for all the nations of the world to join together to compete and demonstrate their talents. Apparently, not everyone agrees with me. Besides the exclusions of Germany and Japan after World War II, South Africa was never allowed to participate in the Olympics while they were under an apartheid. Presently, countries all seem to be able to participate but that doesn't mean we're going to recognize them. As someone who was fully attentive as the announcers discussed each nation, I noticed when they didn't. The American broadcaster of the Olympics, NBC, blatantly did not acknowledge Palestine. As Palestine appeared on my TV screen, the announcers continued to talk about the previous nation and then skipped straight to the following one, completely denying Palestine any acknowledgement. I know that there are politics behind this but personally, I feel that it was wrong. The Olympics isn't about politics, it's about sport and sportsmanship. No matter what their nation, these athletes are athletes. Palestinian athletes are doing the same thing as American, British and Australian athletes. They are playing a sport and they deserve the same respect as the others. History has shown us how cruel of a place the world can be but the Olympics are a time of pride, respect and excitement. Let's remember that the Olympics is a time for cheering for and supporting your team, your athletes and your country--not for demeaning and breaking down others.
Also, swimming is one of my favorite sports to watch and the men are some of the most attractive and after watching their Call Me Maybe dance video, I'm even more obsessed. So everyone needs to see this video!

Shout out to Mr. Hayden van Andel for suggesting History Education Major Me incorporate historical context into my posts, which I am testing out with this one! And for putting up with me talking about the Olympics ALL DAY. 

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