The Olympic cauldron took on an "Eye of Sauron" look at times. Hmmm.
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: July 28, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – Friday turned out to be a pretty busy day here at RDR central headquarters. Between our appearance on The Alex Jones Show (talking about the bizarre issues swirling around the Aurora massacre) and watching the chaotic spectacle of the opening ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games – well, needless to say, your Red Dirt Reporter was needing a strong cup of coffee this morning.
I guess we should have expected the sociopolitical mish-mash of a “celebration” that we got in light of director Danny Boyle being in charge, he of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire fame. We hear the four-hour “opening event” cost around $42.4 million and literally featured a cast of thousands. The name? “Isles of Wonder,” as we have previously noted. And yes, that’s a bit from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 2. As read by Sir Kenneth Branagh: “Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises. Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.” Of course that was inscribed on the enormous bell that was built specifically for the Olympic Stadium there in East London.
Why Caliban – a deformed, hideous creature that is the offspring of a powerful witch and a devil? As USA Today noted, quoting Shakespeare expert James Shapiro, the Caliban quote was “a strange choice.”
“Why you would chooses Caliban’s lines as – in a sense – a kind of anthem for the Olympics, I’m not sure,” Shapiro told USA Today. “If you gave those lines some thought, especially in light of the British Empire, it’s an odd choice.”
That’s because Caliban delivers those lines as he is about to kill a colonialist ruler who took the isles away from Caliban.
And of course Prospero, the magician in The Tempest, is based on John Dee, the magician and alchemist in Elizabeth I’s court who inspired Shakespeare to create the Prospero character. We have been talking about this for some time and we like to point out that the Britpop band Blur is helping to close out the Olympic ceremonies on August 12th with a concert at Hyde Park. Blur’s frontman, Damon Albarn, who is performing music for the “English opera” Dr Dee, just released a soundtrack for Dr Dee. Albarn is a fascinating character and as Blur bassist Alex James notes in his autobiography Bit of a Blur, Albarn “followed the cycles of the moon very closely” and that “he said his mum could do magic.” Like mother like son? We shall see on August 12th.
And isn’t what this particular London Olympic Games is all about? Magic? I mean what of the Olympic cauldron looking like the “Eye of Sauron” from Lord of the Rings. That and the Glastonbury Tor bit. Don’t tell me that wasn’t a bit of … umm … magic.
It would take some time to decipher all the imagery, but we got a lot of it. You had the parachuting-from-the-helicopter bit with James Bond (007) and Queen Elizabeth II (or was it a double?) who couldn’t have looked more bored. What was with that? Considering the Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee and has been worshiped for decades … could she muster a smile? Oh, and as Loren Coleman of the Twilight Language blog notes in his latest post that 16th century Elizabethan scholar and mystic John Dee used the “007” symbol to sign some of his documents. Coincidence? On Her Majesty’s Secret Service indeed.
And what of the unseemly celebration of Britain’s National Health Service – Britain’s bloated and broken socialized medicine program? Well, Boyle makes sure we get a fleet of sick kids in oversized, glowing hospital beds while doctors and nurses gleefully dance about. And if that wasn’t enough, you had demonic creatures of children’s nightmares galavanting about as Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort looms over the children. Sure, it’s a reference to the incredibly popular series but why the excessive focus on it? I would have preferred more Alice in Wonderland and less creepy, oversized babies with cracked skulls.
The music was good – in parts. It could have been better, though. We were especially pleased to see Sheffield, England-based rock band Arctic Monkeys get a chance to play the Beatles’ “Come Together” before the enormous Olympic audience. I suspect that will further raise their profile, and deservedly so. Check out our review of their latest album, Suck It and See, here.
As for Sir Paul McCartney (we call him “Faul” for obvious reasons), hearing an actual “Beatle” perform a raggedy version of “Hey Jude” made this Beatlemaniac roll his eyes. He looked and sounded like a desperate lounge singer. I won’t get into my other thoughts on “Faul” at this time. I will just point readers to Tina Foster’s “Plastic Macca” blog.
And we haven’t even gotten to the athletes. We loved seeing them all march in, from the Marshall Islands to Norway and all in between, etc. Love the flags and the outfits.
And yet, the American Ralph Lauren outfits left much to be desired, especially when worn by tall, professional basketball players like Oklahoma City’s very own James “Fear the Beard” Harden. There was nothing hip or cool about it. Like mummy making Little Johnny wear a sailor suit to church. Uggh! And the berets? Don’t get me started.
More on all this in coming days. In the meantime, enjoy the sporting events, try and keep cool and send me your news tips and ideas to email@example.com.
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report
James Harden (far left) enters the Olympic Stadium in London wearing his Ralph Lauren, Chinese-made US Olympic athlete "uniform."