London 2012 Olympics – Opening Ceremony & More!
The world watched last night as the city of London, England, welcomed everybody with an elaborate opening ceremony for the official start of the 2012 Olympic games.
Technically, the women’s soccer teams began playing two days prior to the opening ceremony. As we know, with the massive tournament bracket and the high number of teams, it takes like forever for sports like soccer to be played at the Olympics. But that’s a different issue.
Right now the spirit of the Olympics rests in London, half a world away from the site of 2008′s summer games in Beijing, China. In 2016, the summer games jump south of the hemisphere to be hosted in Rio de Janeiro, South America’s first time hosting the event.
There was much fanfare and a high production level for London’s opening ceremony. It had its good moments (like the Industrial Revolution), the bad moments (the lame music segment from the 1970s to today), and its weird moment with that video clip featuring James Bond (played by current James Bond actor, Daniel Craig) and Queen Elizabeth II.
The Industrial Revolution segment of the opening ceremony was just plain cool. From the people representing the workers to those representing the company owners and overseers to the raising of the smokestacks, that was one really cool segment of the show. Since it’s so hard to find a taped copy of the opening ceremony, here’s a great video clip showing the rehearsal of the Industrial Revolution, complete with the music loud and clear:
London 2012 Olympics – opening ceremony – Industrial Revolution (rehearsal)
As far as the segment of the opening ceremony celebrating England’s fame in music, that part started out fine with the famous “British Invasion” music from the 1960s, but it became really lame when it hit the 1970s, 80s and beyond. Now if Iron Maiden was playing instead of that rap music then things would have been a little bit better. Actually, it would have been a LOT better. Eddie would have been more lively on camera than those later shots of what appeared to be a bored Queen Elizabeth II.
Speaking of the Queen, that video segment with her and actor Daniel Craig was just lame. I don’t get it how apparently everybody is going crazy for her being in the video. She didn’t exactly do much. The Queen just turned back, spoke ONE line acknowledging the famous spy movie character, and then walked with him out of Buckingham Palace. Whoopie. The TV commentators kept saying how awesome it was for her to be in the video, and supposedly how she’s very sharp with a great sense of humor. It’s hard to tell since there was so little of the Queen on video. When Arnold Schwarzenegger was still governor of California, he spoke more lines for his cameo in The Expendables.
The ending with music legend Paul McCartney was great. It was a little bit surprising to see him become emotional at the start of the song, “Hey Jude.” While he’s performed many times at HUGE venues (including for the Super Bowl 39 halftime show in Jacksonville, Florida), it’s easy to see the amount of pride for performing at a stage like this one. We’re talking about the Olympics in your home country, and even the Queen herself is in attendance. McCartney collected himself and finished the song, even letting some of the athletes sing along.
Now the Olympic events are in full swing. And of course, so are the endless number of athlete biographies that NBC airs between events.
I understand the amount of skill, dedication and sacrifice that athletes require to make it to this ultimate level of competition. Many athletes have a significant amount of natural talent, and their training mainly focuses on small areas of improvement. Others have less natural talent and put that much more effort into their training so they can compete, and win, in the upper level. But the bottom line here is that all of these athletes, every single one of them, are volunteers. Nobody put a gun to their head to make them risk their (and their family’s) life savings in the process of becoming an Olympian.
That being said, it gets old fast when the networks keep focusing on certain athletes and telling us their whole story. Come on! Show us the Olympic events! You can make special Olympic TV shows that go behind the scenes into the lives of the athletes another time. Take the slow portions of the broadcast and show us the other sports, like archery, cycling, rowing, and even taekwondo. Show us any of those other events. If there aren’t many events, then show us more of the international athletes competing. For all of the international joy and praise we heard during the opening ceremony, we sure don’t see that much of the international athletes during NBC’s airing of the Olympics. Don’t fill those lengthy blocks of programming (especially in prime time) by getting into the history of certain athletes.
It’s kind of funny how NBC has been advertising for viewers to watch other events through their website. Of course, there’s a catch.
To view the streaming events and video replays, you have to register at the special NBC Olympic website. Registration is free. The only catch is that you have to select your current TV provider and log in with the account password you use with your TV provider. NBC wants to verify that you’re paying for satellite or cable service that includes at least a couple of the NBC channels. For those of us using a TV antenna and digital converter box to watch TV over-the-air, it’s kind of impossible to register at the NBC website. Whoops! So much for that advertised Internet viewing option.
The BBC allows residents in England to watch the events live on the Internet. Unfortunately to those of us living “across the pond,” the American IP address enables a “Sorry, but you’re outside of the viewing area” message on the BBC Olympic website, disabling the video feed. I read of a way to use a proxy service to make the BBC website think that you’re using a British IP address, supposedly making the BBC Olympic website work, but I’d rather not fool around with that stuff. If the website won’t work for those of us in the U.S., then so be it. I don’t really watch the BBC shows when I do have access to satellite and cable television anyway.
Yesterday and today, many of the NBC commentators (including the annoying commentator, Meredith Vieira, host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) have been talking up the music video featuring members of the U.S. swim team singing along to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” song.
The swim team did an okay job at the music video. It’s clear that they’re all having fun, which is really the point of the video. Last I checked, the video is over 2.2 million views.
Now if you’re looking for a really popular (and much better quality) version of the “Call Me Maybe” song, check out this video performed by the cheerleaders for the Miami Dolphins.
The Miami Dolphins cheerleader video has over 10.6 million views.
Getting back to the opening ceremonies, I was doing a little bit of researching on YouTube and looking back at the opening ceremonies from previous Olympics. Here are a few that stood out for one reason or another.
Los Angeles Olympics (1932):
A couple of things make this video interesting. For starters, this was one of the first opening ceremonies recorded with both audio and video. We’re not far beyond the era of silent movies from the 1920s. Second, notice how the speaker is saluting the athletes and administering the Olympic Oath. That’s the Bellamy Salute (adopted from the ancient Roman salute), a standard salute used around the world at that time. It was very common to salute the AMERICAN FLAG that way here in the U.S. from 1892 through 1942. The Bellamy Salute may still represent fascists today, but it wasn’t just the Germans and Nazis using that style of salute back then . . .
Congress officially changed the way Americans (civil and military) saluted the flag with the Flag Code on December 22, 1942, over a year after entering World War 2.
Berlin, Germany (1936):
To me, it’s fascinating seeing video from Berlin before the outbreak of World War 2. Notice the widespread use of Nazi symbols and the huge feeling of pride amongst the Germans. Just past the halfway point, Adolf Hitler address the athletes and fans around the world by declaring the games open. As we know from history, three years later Germany invaded Poland and that essentially started World War 2.
Munich, West Germany (1972):
We return to Germany thirty-six years years after the Berlin games and the rage of total war across Europe.
Now we’re witnessing a different Germany, an optimistic and “free” Germany (as opposed by East Germany controlled by the Communists of the Soviet Union) hosting the Olympic games as the Cold War keeps a tight grip on central and western Europe. One of the spectacles of the 1972 Munich Olympic games was the design of the Olympic Stadium.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian terrorist attack and hostage of eleven Israeli coaches and athletes greatly overshadowed the Olympic events. In the early morning of September 5, 1972, the Palestinian terrorists attacked the Olympic Village, quickly made their way into the Israelis’ rooms, and held the athletes and coaches hostage. Just after 10 pm that night, a bus transported the hostages and gunmen to two helicopters, who then flew everybody to an airport with a 727 airliner waiting to transport them to Cairo, Egypt. The German police attempted to use snipers to attack the terrorists upon arrival at the airport, but that attack was performed poorly. A raging gun battle ensued, and in the end, all of the Israeli terrorists were killed by gunfire before their helicopter transports exploded. Five of the terrorists were killed, and three surviving terrorists were taken into custody, only to be later released as part of the demands when terrorists later hijacked a Lufthansa airliner.
The Israeli government systematically tracked down and killed all of the Palestinians suspected of being involved with the attack on the Israeli athletes and coaches.
This September marks the 40th anniversary of the deadliest day in the history of the Olympic games. Keep that in mind when the Israeli athletes are visible in the parade of nations. Supposedly you can see the Israeli athletes at the 0:32:12 – 0:32:36 parts of the video. I don’t know as I haven’t watched that far into the video.
Moscow, Russia (1980):
For this last Olympic opening ceremony video we visit the heart of our Cold War enemy at the peak of what could have been the war that ended life on Earth. Thankfully, we and the Rooskies never got into a shooting war (at least not officially, though both sides were indirectly involved in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan).
Like the last few videos, this opening ceremony video is being presented from the host country. In other words, the language is in Russian. You can still make out the general idea of what’s being said in many parts of the video.
What makes this opening ceremony video so fascinating is that it shows a peek (heavy propaganda, but it’s still interesting) into our bitter opponent in the Cold War. I remember the days of elementary school before the Soviet government fell and how the Soviets were our enemy and evil people. They had spies everywhere. They could launch a sneak attack and kill us all. You just didn’t want to get involved with them.
So here we are at the height of the Cold War, and here are the Olympic games, straight from Moscow itself. It’s neat seeing how the ceremony is conducted and the style of life in the Soviet Union.
There you go.
That’s your glimpse into history for today.