The Evil Imp

Old Things

After what seemed like 145 years of preparation and build up the Olympics kicked off this past Friday with the opening ceremony at the Olympic Park in East London.

Debates will be had, probably for the next 145 years, about the relative artistic and creative merits of the show itself. Was it a “spectacular” illustration of all that is British or a very expensive and somewhat truncated history lesson that, at one point, looked like a cheesy, large-scale commercial for Vodafone.

Whatever your particular thoughts on the ceremony itself one thing is certain, it was a one time gig, it’s done and it’s not coming back. We do wonder however, here in TheLab™, if the giant inflatable Voldermort is up for sale?

Old Things

A key point of the opening ceremony to any Olympics is the lighting of the flame. It is a completely symbolic gesture but some folks seem to place a great deal of importance on it.

Notably, for London2012, this part of the opening was entrusted not to some old-timer like Steve Redgrave, as the set-up for this particular section would have the crowd believe, but was handed over to young, up and coming athletes.

They took centre stage, ran around the stadium and all six of them shared the glory of trying very hard not to set fire to either themselves or the entire Olympic venue.

Handing over the reigns to the young and up and coming cannot be said for the rest of the “show” part of the ceremony however.

For a performance like this there are two art forms that will shine, dance and music. Although they were initially side-lined by construction work and gardening they did manage to make it to the surface eventually.

The lead protagonists, for the most part, were not exactly the fresh faces of the UK’s creative culture squad. Evelyn Glennie, Mike Oldfield, Simon Rattle, Rowan Atkinson, Paul McCartney, Danny Boyle (the shows director), Tim Berners-Lee (wtf? Ed!) and Kenneth Branagh.

Akram Khan, backed by a song from 25 year old Emeli Sandé, was shoehorned in at the end but even his work looked a little bit lost on a stage that was literally the size of a football field.

Mirror Image

Arts Professional, a magazine for…….. professionals in the arts, Tweeted to Article19 that the opening ceremony has “done more for the reputation of the arts than most of the other £27m (and more) projects we could mention”.

Such a claim is debatable but perhaps what the ceremony did illustrate was the perfect mirror image of the arts in the UK as a whole.

That is; it’s over populated with a generation of people that will not let go of the past. If you’re young, you can come in as long as you’re either a volunteer or you only play a small role and don’t make too much noise.

For young dance makers the opportunity was there to showcase who they are and what they and their dancers have to offer. The stage was set, it was right there in the middle of the park and everybody was watching.

What’s that we here you say? They couldn’t take the pressure? As we have said before, when the lights go out it’s just an illuminated stage in a dark room.

When the ceremony did try to illustrate the generations, using the aforementioned Vodafone commercial, it fell flat with rap-music, house parties and the sex-pistols.

That entire section looked like a bad West End musical although at the moment we are struggling to think of a good West End musical. It was a cliche wrapped in a cliche, wrapped in a cliche.

Another aspect of the arts as whole came up when the men in suits took to the stage to make their speeches. Sebastian Coe (head of Locog) and Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) took the time to thank all of the volunteers for making the ceremony what it was.

Danny Boyle did the same, as did the BBC television presenters when they took time away from telling us about all the terrible things that had happened to each of the countries taking part in the games.

People making six figure salaries telling people who either didn’t get paid or got paid very little saying thanks for all “your” hard work because they couldn’t have done it without you.

Where have we heard that before?