The less said about the Olympics closing ceremony, the better. Although we could could go on at length about it. For the most part it was more than two hours of silly, shallow, showbizzy nonsense, with some truly terrible music – which is incredible when you consider the amount of wonderful music that Britain has in its amazing ‘back catalogue’.
The Guardian has put a good collection of photographs of this so-called ceremony on its website, which pretty much capture the essence of the event. The photos of fire and fireworks are fabulous, and you get a sense of the radiance of the athletes from some of the shots. The majority, however, show hopeless has-beens like the Spice Girls (with ‘Posh’ wearing a truly stupid short dress with a massive ‘train’), George Michael (dressed as sleaze personified) and Brian May (dressed in a ridiculous long mac or overcoat on a warm summer’s evening). There are also photos of Britain’s naff ‘supermodels’, dressed in their (British) designer clothes, and various BMW cars. This was basically a giant catwalk of saleable items – be they clothes, cars, singers or bands.
For anyone who’s interested, Michael Billington published a hopeless review of the event in the Guardian. You learn more from the hundreds of pithy readers’ comments ‘below the line’ than you do from Billington’s efforts.
There’s no doubt that a considerable amount of creative effort went into the production of the ceremony, but to what effect? This is what happens when creativity isn’t directed by spiritual intelligence, artistic vision and human (as opposed to commercial) values. This is what happens when showbiz values and commercialism are allowed to predominate.
According to Wikipedia, the ceremony’s Music Director David Arnold had said: “It’s going to be beautiful, cheeky, cheesy, camp, silly and thrilling”.
Well now, let’s see. Very little of it was beautiful. None of it was thrilling. I’m not sure which bits were supposed to be ‘cheeky’, but most of it was indeed cheesy, camp and silly. And also pretty shameful.
Three weeks ago 3D Eye said this:
Last night’s opening ceremony of the 30th Olympic Games was, as expected, a terrific mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous, the eccentric and the mainstream, the joyful and the laughable. Clearly it amazed, entertained, surprised and delighted . . .
We went on to say,
It’s beginning to sink in with a lot of people that this is a very important time for Britain, for England, and for London – especially East London. The eyes of the world are focused on a four-yearly phenomenon, and also on a nation, a city and a culture. What are they going to see?
There are those who hope that the rest of the world will learn that this is an amazing country full of cultural riches plus warm, decent and welcoming people. Others worry that the worst elements of our society will bring shame and disgrace on the city and the nation.
Tim Soutphommasane had an article in yesterday’s Observer in which he wrote,
By now, Britons may be growing weary of post-Olympic celebration and reflection. But let me add an Australian voice of congratulations to London and Britain. The Games were a stunning triumph. Many Australians watching, myself included, could only concede that they could well have been the best ever.
Perhaps it was Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony that did the most to define the legacy of the Games. What was especially striking about it, at least to my eyes, was its story of Britain as a project – that ongoing project of a New Jerusalem. It was a convincing argument that Britishness wasn’t about nostalgic yearning for the stuff of an imperial past, but something that existed in the present and future.
It is politics and communities that are the forces of history, not economics. To adopt a market economy isn’t to capitulate to a market society. A civilised society requires a strong state, which should not only protect the rights of individuals but also enable them to fulfil their potential.
It is patriotism that provides the fuel for the engine of a good society. This doesn’t mean embracing a tribal belief in the superiority of one’s country. There must be room for reason and reflection. But essentially we’re talking about a desire to contribute to the common good and to improve one’s country.
At the moment many countries are looking to Britain as an example of a dynamic multicultural society united by a generous patriotism. The Olympic moment provided a glimpse of a modern Britain that can inspire a world still learning to live with diversity. It is a partial, fragile vision. After all, a country can only be at its best when it has virtuous citizens.
Need we reiterate that being ‘virtuous’ is part of being spiritually intelligent? As is generosity, decent values and a desire to contribute to the common good. These things are the antithesis of selfishness and meanness of spirit.
As for enabling individuals to fulfil their potential, 3Di will continue to argue for a much better education system that truly sets out to enable individuals of all abilities, talents and strengths to become engaged with enthusiastic, self-directed, lifelong learning that leads to finding one’s element and becoming a successful, productive and creative member of a cohesive society. We need an education system that sets young people on the right path for life through the development of all six of their intelligences. We’re not there yet. Sadly, we’re still very far from it – in spite of the successes of our athletes, and the warmth and generosity of the majority of our citizens.
- Sport, Education and Multiple Intelligences (3diassociates.wordpress.com)
- The Olympics Begins – and the Whole World’s Watching (3diassociates.wordpress.com)
- Meet Miliband’s new guru: Tim Soutphommasane (newstatesman.com)