Friday, August 08, 2008

Live Blogging (sort of) the Beijing Opening Ceremonies

Well, well . . .

here we go.

First impression: way to live up to stereotypes China. Sure you invented fireworks, but that doesn't mean you get to inundate us without copious amounts of fireworks without me calling you on it. (plus all that smoke isn't helping the air quality issues that have been a persistent topic of discussion in the run up to the Games.

Still, I've got to say, I am most interested in these Games because of the architecture and the chance to see illuminating, soft-focus stories on China--the Forbidden Kingdom. Maybe I'll see some sports in there as well. I worry that the Wachowski Brothers are going to get some sort of inspiration out of this that will lead to some crappy movie later.

You've got to give it up to China's determination to emphasize spectacle and sheer size. that is always the first thing we think of with this country--over one billion people, all singularly ruled by a small amount of highly privileged. And China has always done things in a spectacular way. Communists know how to put on an impressive show. Plus, I heard Bob Costas and Matt Lauer say that the Opening Ceremonies cost about $3oo million dollars to put together. (I bet that could have helped the earthquake victims in Szechuan province, no?) But, as everyone is trying to point out, this is intended to be China's Coming Out party. The country is determined to have a significant place in the politics and economics of the 21st century and so, they are using the Olympic Platform to announce themselves . . . and maybe put everyone on notice. We'll see how it goes.

I like the effect of the traditional Olympic Rings symbol being lifted off of the floor and suspended in the air. It was an unexpected act that makes you wonder why no one had done it before.

The kids carrying the flag makes me remember that the opening ceremonies are as much history lesson as choreograph spectacle. 56 kids, dressed in the ethnic dress of the 56 cultural groups that make up China, carry in the Chinese flag. And up the flag goes to the sound of the Chinese national anthem. And in the midst of it, President Bush is talking to Vladimir Putin. Perhaps they are discussing the Russian invasion of the Georgian Republic?

Hey, I just saw one of the Chinese painting dancers pull a Neo move! (Paging the Wachowski Bros.!)

There have been lots of commercials so far--and it's barely thirty minutes into the show!--but it has given me time to go to other websites and find some other stuff that'll be helpful throughout. Like the NBC Olympic Web site that gives some helpful information and pictures on the spectacular architecture of the Olympic venues. And I've also found the lyrics of the Chinese national anthem "March of the Volunteers."

This current segment on the Chinese invention of paper and the technology of wood block printing is pretty amazing. The fluid movements of the blocks, representing wind, water, the Chinese character of Harmony. All very cool and I find myself not blogging but just watching the spectacle. . . .

THAT was amazing. I suspected (knew, really) that there were people under those blocks, but I appreciated the moment at the end where the people came up and showed themselves for the crowd's accolades. Thought my cynical nature knows that all of this is calculated. The Chinese WANT everyone to be in awe of their efforts and to think that they are celebrating the power of the individuals (but they want the individual harnessed into the movement of the whole.) That is one of the big differences. Americans want individuals to be celebrated because, look at me--I'm AWESOME! Because I think so. But mass societies want the individual to be happily part of the whole, working as a UNIT. This is best expressed in the next segment when the yellow dancer (representing the Tang Dynasty, the commentators say) is supported in the air by a large mass of people walking below them. And isn't yellow the symbolic color of the Emperor? And so, might that not be the people holding up the Imperial Family? (my thoughts there?)

i am struck during the Naval History segment--with huge oars, images of waves, and the like . . . the music sounds very Hollywoodish.

After a very interesting commercial for the upcoming NBC Christian Slater show "My Own Worst Enemy," we're back to Modern China (perhaps 1978 says Costas and Lauer), but if that is so, then the multicolored floor evokes a disco floor. Did China have a disco period? Probably not. But the coiffed piano player at the center of the segment makes me think of Liberace, who was definitely popular in the 1970s.

Here again, there is the juxtaposition of a group of school children surrounded by 2000 tai chi performers. The commentators say that it's about the problems of the future sand the need to work int harmony wit nature to build sustainability. Certainly something that is needed in china when there are a billion people but it is still the individual surrounded by the mass.

(oh, and by the way, if you are still reading this but are getting tired of my haphazard and half-hearted comments, you can always slip over here to see how the professionals do it.) And you can also see some stunning images of the stuff I/we are writing about by clicking on this slideshow.

Well, that was a poor effort on my part. I was swept up in the sheer audacity of the Ceremonies and didn't find the time to do a really good job giving my impressions of things. (Certainly there were no Chevy trucks in attendance.) Sorry. Go check out the New York Times blogging of the Ceremonies and don't forget to look at the excellent pictures link as well. I'll keep watching the parade of athletes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went to the p-i-l's house so I could watch the opening ceremony on a non-fuzzy screen. Very cool! can tell that they wiped out a lot of their females. Not a lot of representin' from the ladies. Of course, the three white guys in the booth didn't seem to notice. Sigh.