Sunday, August 24, 2008


"Too western...superficial, without the history of China" was the assessment of Guatemala's commentators after London did its mini-show as part of the closing ceremony of the 29th Games. And Leona Lewis was dressed "too sexily" stressed the one who had earlier admitted to being a fan of Led Zeppelin. These men, clearly forgetting that London is a city with around 2000 years of history, had spent the entire games referring to nearly every male US competitor as "el gringo".

Still, Guatemalan coverage of the Olympics wasn't so bad. I'd spent the first week watching the Games on the American network NBC in Belize. Their commentators praised the Chinese spectators for being so even-handed in their applause for all nations' competitors - including the Japanese - whilst themselves delivering the most blatantly partisan gloss on the on-screen events. Even the ads that interspersed the various finals were almost exclusively for products that could be positioned as "all American". ("If you've had a Coke in the last eight years, you've had a hand in every Olympic dream.")

After Zhang Zimou's spectacular opening ceremony in Beijing, Mayo and Kermode were debating last week which British film director might be permitted to follow in his footsteps in four years time. Terry Gilliam, Nick Park and Ridley Scott were top choices, though one listener noted that in the case of Scott we'd have to wait until 2020 for the director's cut.

Kermode thought Mike Leigh would surely come up with an unprecedented kitchen-sinky kind of production, but perhaps the best suggestion was from a listener - Guy Ritchie to direct, with all the previous years' drug cheats lined up in order to have their heads smashed in car doors.

One of my favourite parts of this year's ceremony was when one of the hundreds of dancers in boxes suffered from a bit of a false finish, popping up to deliver his celebratory wave just a second or so too early, and was seen engaged in a hasty re-insertion just as the mass of his peers emerged.

From the wheelchair that tried to push itself onto Beckham's bus today one can surmise perhaps that London 2012 will see a swing backto political correctness...and rather less of the smiling beauties on percussion. Though with Boris in the background, who knows?

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