Random thoughts on the 2010 Winter Games Opening Ceremonies

Beautiful but occasionally odd Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  I generally detest these things because they are loaded with meaningless crap devoid of narrative that some art director thinks is challenging and contemporary, as opposed to something expository that might tell visitors and the folks at home something about the host nation.  So I was pleasantly surprised by the spectacle and staging.

You... shall not... pass!

Aurora borealis effects.

Aurora borealis effects.

Very neat orca effects.

Na'vi are actually self- loathing expats from Toronto, like everyone else in Vancouver.

Welcome to Lilith Fair 1998.

Most boring segment based on equally boring "Who Has Seen The Wind?", by W.O. Mitchell.


Do NOT let these people talk through your broadcast event. Ever.

One item that was a real letdown, though, was the commentary.  On CTV, Lloyd Robertson and Brian Williams should have shut their pieholes during the staged “show” portion.  Instead they were offering inane descriptions of things the camera was already showing us.  Imagine sitting through Star Wars with Lloyd and Brian sitting behind you, reciting gems like this:  “The small, heavily outnumbered Rebel Alliance strike group is approaching the Death Star.”  “Tough break for Porkins, looks like he was shot down.”  “Luke is putting aside his targeting visor and relying on the mystical properties of the Force.”   “Apparently those proton torpedoes found their way through the thermal exhaust vent to a critical system!”  Yeah, thanks.  We’re seeing the same damn images you are; just shut up and let me enjoy it.  Nothing is more annoying than guys that talk through the show.

Other parts of the ceremony were more fun.

It's Mecha-Bear! Run for your lives!

If I understand the staging correctly, in the prehistoric past, the Inuit people were attacked by an enormous Mecha-Spirit Bear, which broke up the sea ice sheets they lived on and forced them to flee for their lives.  They remember this terrifying tragedy through oral traditions passed down through the centuries.

As Paul Wells notes, the sad bit where Willem Dafoe died at the end of Platoon is engraved in our national memory.

Fiddling survived 21st century nuclear war and the collapse of Western civilisation.

Mel Gibson’s Mad Max films apparently had a titanic and enduring impact on the development of Celtic fiddling on the East Coast.

What’s with the CanCon oldsters like Bryan Adams and  k.d. lang?  lang was popular back in the Cretaceous Era when early amphibians and Teddy Ruxpin first crawled out of the sea.  Couldn’t dig up the real Leonard Cohen?  Isn’t he Canadian anymore?  Or was he busy singing at somebody else’s Olympics?  There’s a dozen slightly used hipsters from Broken Social Scene shilling pencils on streetcorners, surely they could be shaved and thrown into clean clothes for a tune or two.  Leslie Feist?  No?

Wayne's Excellent Cauldron-Lighting Adventure

When planning the logistics for Wayne Gretzky’s taxi ride to the Auxiliary Backup Cauldron, Vancouver police decided that drunken twentysomethings spilling out of bars would be more effective crowd control than a full police cordon with sidewalk barricades.

It also wouldn’t have hurt for the driver to learn where the accelerator pedal is, and what it does.  NBC had time to interview Vice President Joe Biden in the time it took Wayne to get from the Show Cauldron to the Waterfront Cauldron.

Less talking, more editing.

Vancouver Olympic Committee CEO John Furlong needed to cut his welcoming speech by about two and a half hours.  I can only imagine how much fun the years of meetings with this guy were.  He probably takes fifteen minutes just to say “Good morning” as you pass him in the hallway.

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