2008-08-10

Thoughts on the Beijing Opening Ceremonies



The Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics were truly spectacular. Featuring for than 15,000 performers, heads of state from around the world, and a budget of more than $100 million, it set a new bench mark by which all future openings will be judged.

Here are some random thoughts I had while watching it.

First, those cheerleaders who were always on camera during the parade of nations had to hop and cheer for more than two hours. That must have been exhausting. By the time the Chinese atletes came in, you could see the cheerleaders could barely hop anymore. They tried, but most seemed to have run out.

My GF and I tried to figure out who had the tougher job -- the hopping cheerleaders, or the country sign holding women who had to walk around with the stiff arms, straight out holding a sign with the name of each country. They're efforts were briefer than the hoppers', but that requires some serious arm strength.

Second, I imagine the performances were intended to say something about the country's place in the world. They combined kids with military, kids with martial arts demos, massive coordinated drumming, animated displays powered not by technology but by people, and an assortement of other acts.

They downplayed technology and focused on the sheer volume of their populace.

When you look at the way America's manufacturing base has shifted over to China, to the point where much of the US is Made In China, it's not because of technology. It's because of people. It's almost as though if there is a problem or an opportunity, China can simply throw more people at it.

There seemed to be a subtext of, "We want harmony, but don't mess with us. We'll bury you with people."

In the balance of military power, the US had the edge in technology and weaponry. China has a lot of people.

Third, there was a lot of emphasis on the environment. Seriously?

Fourth, President Bush was there. I'm okay with that. But I would liked to have seen him be more enthused when the Iraqi athletes entered the stadium. Or at least not to sit there and smirk as they walked by.

It was long ceremony so I can understand him getting fidgety toward the end. Lots of people are like that. I'm like that. As the US athletes marched in, He stood and cheered and waved a small American flag. That's great to see.

But as the nations continued to enter, he sat down. The camera cut over to him, and he was wacking the small American flag on his knee. Seriously? After all the grief Obama took during the primaries for not always wearing a flag pin on his lapel, we now have the President wacking the rolled up flag on his knee on world wide television.

I know it seems like a small thing, but since the President has called for a constituional amendment to prohibit flag desecration he (or his handlers) should be more careful.



Fifth, overall, it was a fascinting and beautiful diplay, and I can't wait to see what the next two weeks bring.

3 comments:

Karen Zemek, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

I don't see why anyone would want the job of President. No matter what you do or where you go, you have NO privacy and someone always finds something to criticize you about. With the way America treats its President, I am amazed that anyone would run at all. I can't imagine living under a microscope like they do with so much responsibility.

foongpc said...

The cheerleaders have a really exhausting day alrite! I won't be able to last 1 hour! Those ladies holding the banners - they have great endurance! Perhaps they were trained way before the opening ceremony. My hand will go numb holding the banners for longer than 20 minutes! : )

Cromely said...

@karen zemek: I'm willing to cut people some more slack when they don't expect to be watched. But in a forum like this, he should know better. Or have a arranged for a more private viewing area. And when someone expresses strong views, I expect them to try to model the appropriate behavior. Especially as President.

But you are right about often being in a no win situation. There's something freeing about that, though. When there's no way to win, you have the opportunity to do what you think is right regardless of the outcome.

Then again, it's often been said that wanting to be President means someone is not fit for the role.

@foongpc: It was a pretty impressive display. I got a kick our of watching the sign holders leading gymnasts around the gymnastics competition, too.