I got up at 3:30 AM this morning here in China in great anticipation for the London Olympics Opening Ceremony. England had a greater budget to prepare for this show than China had, and the English had great hopes that London’s Opening Ceremony show would beat that of Beijing’s.
I always had doubts that the British can beat the Chinese’s cosmetic perfection, individual discipline, 20,000 cast members, technological breakthroughs, and 5,000 years of history, culture, and philosophies.
And I was right!
However, I never expected that the Great Britain turned a large portion of their Olympics Opening Ceremony into an everyday, chaotic, incoherent party to show the entire world.
The verdict is in, the Great Britain’s Olympics Ceremony is sub par to that of the 2008’s Chinese Olympics Ceremony.
But on the other hand, there is still beauty in what the British decided to show to the entire world, different, but still beautiful.
England’s history, in the entirety of 2,500 years of Western history is a quite empty one, as well as a dark one that cannot be gloriously shown to the world like how the Chinese can present its own history.
The Roman Empire did not bother much with ruling and conforming England because it is a small island supposedly filled with uncivilized “barbarians” without much culture. King Author and his round table of knights were but a fairy tale myth. After the Dark Ages, England did not contribute much to the Renaissance or to the Scientific Revolution. It is true that Queen Victoria won the war against the Spanish Armada that was going to bring Catholic Inquisition to England. However, the reason for dissenting from the Catholic Church was because Victoria’s predecessor, Henry the VIII, wanted a divorce from his wife, which the Catholic Church vehemently refused to grant.
Then for over a century, Great Britain was obsessed with making the entire world, England. Invading every underdeveloped country, England massacred countless innocent lives. When that conquest of the entire world slowed down, England was then wrapped up with the endless and pity bickering, political rivalry, and weapons built up between the European countries, which resulted in the “War that will end all wars” (World War I).
England sent millions of its young men to their meaningless deaths. And after WWI, because of the long term oppressive and inhumane treatment of Germany, it resulted the rise of Hitler and another World War, which resulted in even more deaths than the previous war. Finally, England’s mathematical genius, Alan Turner, who invented the world’s first mechanical computer to break Germany’s military communication code was later poisoned to death because he was homosexual.
Therefore, the only glorious part of the Great Britain’s history that can be shown under the peaceful and unifying spirit of the Olympics is its Industrial Revolution (where England is the first country in the world to industrialize) and its modern culture.
In Comparison to China’s historically inwardly focused culture of Feudalism, the beautiful traditions and teachings of Confucius and the mystical universal love of Taoism passed on in China for more than 2,800 years. Confucius taught the language and system that made peace, order, harmony, respect, responsibility, and justice possible for an individual, for a family, for a king, and even for an entire country.
The mystical Taoism taught people to live in inner peace and harmony within the warm, caring, and loving universe. Taoism taught the Chinese to live between the balance and the spirit of “the Ying and the Yang.” Extrapolating from this simple balance, herbal medicine and acupuncture were slowly developed. Tai-chi and martial arts also came into form. Because of Taoism, the Chinese philosophers also became curious of the stars and astrophysics, which later helped them navigate ships.
China had much glorious history, culture, philosophies, and breakthrough inventions to show to the world at its Olympics Opening than the British.
But the beauty that the British did show to the entire world today can be seen in its soft details, which vastly differed from that of the Chinese. What the British wanted to share with the world was England’s dream and ideal: 1) equality, 2) tolerance, 3) substance, and 4) sustainability for all its adult citizens and their children. The British put a special emphasis on their future generations in its Olympics Show.
The British took pride in their country’s safety net and welfare system. They made a special spectacle of their Universal Health Care System. Free medical care, hospital stays, and universal coverage without pay no matter who you are. The show consisted of a joyful children’s hospital that made room and beds for children of all colors and family backgrounds without any strings attached.
I believe the show focused on a children’s hospital because the British wanted to tell the world that their health-care and welfare system is here to stay well into its future generations. The people caring for the children were not beautiful actors but real doctors and nurses from London’s children hospitals.
During the long duration that showed England’s contemporary and pop culture, in the midst of all the music, movies, and dancing, the camera constantly focused on 2 young people who joyfully danced along with the others. But what came out of a story over a lost cellphone developed into a romantic love affair between the two young couple in the digital age.
And out of all the beautiful youths dancing in that pop culture story line, these two main stars who fell in love were Blacks. The show also showed glimpses of England’s tolerance of women’s equality in politics and in finances, as well as its tolerance for homosexuality before the entire world.
Also, the camera focused on all of the ordinary blue-collared workers who built the Olympics Park in London, whom were all there in the Stadium cheering the Olympics Torch as it entered the stadium. Every worker was a star on TV for a brief moment for the people all over the world to appreciate their hard work.
The Birdnest and China’s Olympics Green was built mostly by migrant workers from far away countrysides. They were sent home as soon as the Birdnest was finished and never even had a chance to stand in the center of the mammoth building project to see what their ordinary hands have accomplished together.
When the Chinese raised its Olympie’s Flag, it was done so by some of the country’s most handsome, tall, muscular soldiers in the most disciplined, stylish, military fashion. When the British raised the Olympics flag, it was done so by some of the world’s most famous peace makers whom, some of them, won the Nobel Peace Prize. They were old. And some of them were overweight and not easy on the eye. Most of them couldn’t walk right, or even straight.
They couldn’t hold the flag leveled. You could see that it’s not easy for these peace makers to climb the hills to raise the Olympics Flag. Even Mohammad Ali was there. (Mohammad Ali was a famous black boxing star who was locked up in jail during the height of his boxing career and for most of his life because he refused to go fight in the Vietnam War.) He stood there, old and frail now, as a symbol of peace in this world. He couldn’t raise the Olympic Flag because he has Parkinson’s Disease. The British wanted to show the world that they cared more about substance over style.
Most of the London’s Olympics Opening Ceremony were performed by youth and children. The national anthem was song by children — not exactly in tune to be fair. The final relays of the Olympics Torch into the Stadium was on a fast speed boat accompanied by spectacular fireworks.
The star in the speed boat holding the torch was not a famous Olympic medalist but a child who is a prodigy soccer player. She has great potential, the TV announcer said. Then the torch was delivered to a five-time Olympic Gold Medalist who battled diabetes for most of his life. As this 5 time medalist entered the stadium, he passed the fire to eight young athletes whom, the British believed, had great potential in the future Olympic competitions. Most of these eight young athletes had never won a single Olympic Medal.
And it was these eight young nameless youth who finally lit the unique Olympic Fire to start the 17 days of Olympic Competition in London.
And finally, the London’s Olympics Stadium was built in a very poor district, populated mostly by minorities. The placement of the Grand Olympic Stadium there hoped to raise the sports awareness and participation of the minority youths, reduce the crime rates in that area of London, and make public use of the Stadium to these minority children after the Olympics is over. This is unlike the Birdnest that is sitting idlely in the middle of Beijing, which take millions of tax dollars to maintain every year, without any use now.
Even though the verdict is in, London’s Olympics Opening Night failed to impress those who watched Beijing’s Grand and Spectacular Olympics Opening Ceremony, however, there are beautiful details of London’s show that are different, which to be fair, Beijing cannot touch.