RETURN OF THE CYNICS

Having been very pleasantly awed by the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, after not even being sure that I would watch it, I was in two minds as to whether or not to risk disappointment by watching last night’s Closing Ceremony. I had regularly viewed my Twitter feed during Danny Boyle’s spectacular and was really quite stunned to see virtually 100% positive comments, it was also rare to note any Tweet that didn’t reference the ceremony.

During the two weeks of competition I saw very little in the way of negative commentary as most contributors had either been caught up in the wave of euphoria that came in the wake of the succession of Team GB medals, or had simply opted to focus on other things. Last night marked a change and a number of tweets suggested that a possible release of pent up cynicism was clearly evident in the tone of many posts made during the Closing Ceremony.

As I watched, I recalled times when I had been a ‘designated driver’, or late arrival at a party once things were well under way. It can feel rather uncomfortable to be sober when surrounded by people who are well-travelled along the road to inebriation. Joining in can be extremely awkward; and so it was last night. I can absolutely understand that it must have been a truly wonderful experience to have been present in the stadium, most particularly for the athletes who were finally getting an opportunity to relax with colleagues at the end of such an intense phase of their lives, but it really didn’t enthuse me at all. As a party for Olympic participants I believe that it worked extremely well, and tweets from athletes confirmed this. In particular I was struck by Zoe Smith’s (weightlifter) comments about hearing the noise from inside the stadium and being so desperately keen to get inside to join in.

As an outsider, however, I found that the selection of music was often inane and patronising and came nowhere near the inspired choices featured in the Opening Ceremony and the repetition of certain tracks smacked of penny-pinching on PRS payments. I think Emeli Sandé is an exceptional talent but did find it odd that she alone had secured so many slots to fill given the massive pool of talent available. The props looked so amateurish after the opening marvels, and whilst the opening ceremony contained many weird images, these mainly did appear to eventually make sense – many of last night’s proceedings were simply weird, full stop. Watching in parallel with following my Twitter stream was very much like watching a slow motion car crash, and I stuck with it until the very end, all the time expecting the worst.

For me the highlights were probably:

1 – the opportunity to see again some of the iconic images of winning and losing athletes, in particular Jade Jones’ absolute release when she threw her helmet into the air after winning her taekwondo Gold medal and Nicola Adams’ beaming smile after becoming the first ever female Olympic womens’ boxing Gold medallist; and;

2 – the deconstruction of the cauldron and the extinguishing of the flame; although even this raised many questions as to why the IOC doesn’t formally link the Olympics and Paralympics into one inclusive event rather than continuing to support segregation and inequality.

Whilst some of the singing was oviously live, in many cases this simply served to highlight the poor performances by some of the performers who have a long history of excellence.

Another consideration was in the choice of some of the performers; the Olympics, quite correctly make a point of seeking to root out drug use, yet here we saw participants such as George Michael, Kate Moss, Liam Gallagher and (albeit allegedly reformed) Russell Brand, all being given prominent roles – it’s perhaps a good job that no random drugs tests had been carried out prior to the start of this event. To highlight models famous for being Size Zero, also seemed a step too far from the healthy roles that had been so successfully promoted by the athletes.

Perhaps the next time that I feel aprehensive about watching something in case it disappoints, I will give it a miss.

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