Anyone harboring concerns over the state of British culture should have had their fears laid to rest by the London Olympics’ opening ceremonies. British culture is well and truly dead. From the “signing” choir that could hardly sing, to the parade of “notable” left-wing figures carrying the flag around the stadium, the mish-mash of bad music, left-wing politics, and dancing that ranged from silly to abominable showed how truly decrepit Britain’s “thinking” classes have become, now that they rule without opposition from any meaningful political, religious, or ethnic quarter.
It was not just the race and gender balancing; after all, such symbols, combined with public monies, were what silenced meaningful ethnic opposition to the “multiculturalism” of state dependency. It was not just the overtly preachy scenarios (Peter Pan as a celebration of socialized medicine). It was the utter mindlessness of a marathon performance that turned the spirit of civilized competition into a very long episode of glee that showed just how little Danny Boyle (the filmmaker who orchestrated the fiasco) and his friends in the British entertainment industry have to offer. Even the network announcer, gamely repeating the liberal platitudes about unity and the “pride” of Britain in her socialized institutions, slipped when viewing the giant inflatable baby displayed in the Peter Pan vignette, asking whether it might be “creepy.” I hope he keeps his job; the better instincts of nature have become all too rare on the airwaves these days.
Of course, a nation that takes pride in broadcasting the “f-word” (and pretty much every letter word that is vulgar) along with cheery blasphemies galore during prime time, would not shy from mocking its own ceremonies. Indeed, Mr. Bean’s fantasy of cheating his way to the Gold was, on the whole, the best moment of the festivities. It’s just that the now-familiar British conceit that one is truly “smart” only if one mocks whatever is serious has become quite boring as well as inappropriate.
I confess to finding the central vignette, of Britain uniting under the difficulties of industrialization to forge the rings that represent the Olympics, to be so vapid as to belie serious interpretation. I could only think how sad it was that the nation that produced Shakespeare has ended by celebrating Mary Poppins as its great contribution to the world, and summing up its philosophy with some anonymous techie’s text message “this is for everyone.”
Gee, thanks for that. I don’t know what I’d do without such empty gesticulations.
And that is the point, really. For all the attempts to show the “relevance” of popular culture through mind-numbing rock medleys and seventies-style film collages constituting nothing so much as an ode to individual autonomy, this great showcase of British culture was about as meaningless as it could have been. Civilization reduced to soundbytes—and soundbytes from sitcoms at that.
One might note that the “ceremonies” missed out on one chance to emphasize their commitment to political correctness: there was no paean to gay marriage. Then again, Boyle is probably planning on a sequel.