People as Shrapnel

10 Aug

I watched the opening of the Olympics in Beijing for as long as I could bear. The barrage of advertisements on U.S. television is/was relentless. I am one who usually hits the mute button as soon as commercials take over, only Friday night I grew tired of even doing that. But even so…I did get to see the drummers, the dancers who painted, the hullabaloo. I hung in for about an hour and a half, before I turned off the telly, fired up hulu on momentofchoice’s laptop, and watched a few episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati.

Overall, I’ve heard nothing but praise for the opening. It did just the opposite for me. It reminded me, in fact, that the fundamental idea of this vast, Asian country is Communism at its most rudimentary. I suppose I have a point of reference here, having lived in a former Totalitarian-ruled land. The sheer number of people (see also: drummers; see also: performers) brought to mind the Communist parades. It was frightening, as well as mind-boggling realizing that, should anything dire ever happen politically, the Chinese would be able to throw almost infinite numbers of people at a situation. People as shrapnel. It was un-nerving for me to watch those drummers, in tight unison, chant and hit and gesture and chant some more. I realized that if things turn awry during my lifetime, there’d be an ocean of warriors to stare down. And so for me, the opening was just Communist extravaganza in disguise. Muscle-flexing, really. I do realize you’d have to have my perspective, but…by now if you’ve come here often enough, you know to expect dissent in my personal posts.

I am tired of seeing history presented in show. I have read and can read historical accounts and folk tales and books and haikus and sonnets. I am interested in the simplicity of art, the modernity of it. And so to me, the sparsity of the Japanese dwelling will always be more impressive than the pomp-and-circumstance and clutter of, say, Versailles or Buckingham Palace or any one of the DeMedici villas. The opening ceremonies in Beijing were GRAND. And for me, that was an awful thing. I long one day to see a simple man, perhaps barefoot, walk up to the cauldron, torch in hand, simply setting fire to the damned kettle.

As I grow older I find the entire concept of the Olympics–and competition itself–outdated. It’s an incestuous cousin of politics and war, disguised as an ancient game, which exploits its players. There is as much wrangling and maneuvering and waste and hypocrisy on the IOC as there is in politics in general. Or the United Nations.

Watching the ceremonies I thought: there is nothing new and innovative in any of this. It’s just HUGE. It’s GRAND. It’s based on scale, not idea. The bigger, the more expensive, the better. Even the fireworks turned me off (as they usually do anyway). Because I knew, while the Commies were shooting off their striking display of flammable compositions, innocent people were getting ripped apart in Georgia by Soviet (yes, SOVIET) rockets and tanks. Or…(insert your world conflict here). Just for fun, after patting yourself on the back for supporting or believing in the tradition of the Olympics and the freedom and co-operation it claims to represent, head over here for a comprehensive list of current conflicts (thanks momentofchoice). It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it. It really smokes out the useless spectacle that is the Olympics for what it truly is: a distraction with heavy political underpinnings, under the guise of the instrument for world harmony and peace.

I expect people to disagree with me profusely. That makes me happy, in fact. It underscores my beliefs and my opinions. I am happy and content with how I think on certain subjects. I am even happier and more content with being a dissenter from traditional values and hypotheses.

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5 Responses to “People as Shrapnel”

  1. Slyboots 11/08/2008 at 10:38 AM #

    Been thinking about this one. Talked to Kman about it too- we all three had different takes on the situation- with yours being by far the most personal in a sense, and probably the most pragmatic.

    Kman was overwhelmed by the actual resources that were used to make all that glorious technology run. And the precision involved. Absolutely bulletproof. Now, if he could see that kind of actual precision and technological genius from his Chinese team on a daily basis, he would be a happy man.

    My take on it was probably the most emotional. I took the event as an extreme effort by the Chinese to win over the hearts and minds of the world at large. That they want to be seen as having arrived. And they want us to like them. Really, really like them.

    Now what does this say about us? Well, probably a lot. I’ll leave that to you. It’s your playing field if you choose to go there. But it was a very interesting discussion that you got rolling in our house! Dude.

  2. Slyboots 12/08/2008 at 7:30 PM #

    Smoke and mirrors as a revelation? Ah, someone in China came across the PT Barnum principle and applied it liberally in this case. No surprises here. Just like there’s no surprise that the Chinese “Women’s” Gymnastics team is likely comprised of pre-pubescent children (they are thinking under the age of 14). All smoke and mirrors.

  3. (S)wine 12/08/2008 at 7:54 PM #

    Sly, here’s some more on that…Women’s team:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/sports/olympics/13araton.html?hp

  4. Slyboots 13/08/2008 at 10:33 AM #

    I like that- the “shrug and don’t tell” olympics. I just hope those little girls grow up to be fine human beings. Despite their cheatin hearts. Commies, all of them, I tell ya!

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