Spirit of 77

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Like many people I was drawn to the Olympics handover video clip like a moth to the flame. Expecting the worst I sat agape as the lameness unfolded in front of me. Comparisons to China’s efforts in spectacle are, in my view, lazy. Different cultures, different motivations, different goals. What matters is the British effort was objectively quite, quite awful.

And, thinking that while it was bad it was nothing to do with me really, I filed it away with all the other things about this country that are nothing to do with me really and got on with my evening. Until I came across this post from Friends of the Stars where Craig unearthed this frankly wonderful video of Abba, Olivia Newton John and Andy Gibb having a sing-song.

While I wouldn’t want to compare that to the British handover effort, Craig’s closing comment echoed in my mind:

You can see why Punk happened.

Punk needed something to kick against and it was this sort of unbridled hippy shit, not to mention the prog rock epitomised by Rick Wakeman, that created the punching bags. Artistically at any rate.

The sport itself doesn’t interest me and I wouldn’t want to comment on what the athletes get up to. What bothers me is the carnival that surrounds it all. This, as it happens, has a name. It’s called the Cultural Olympiad and it starts today, effectively taking a bunch load of arts and culture money that was being used to do art and culture and funneling it back into the arts and culture with a stupid logo slapped on it (and a nice slice taken off for admin costs, no doubt).

There was an event in Birmingham a while back about the Cultural Olympiad and how the creative sector here might get involved. Here’s the CiB post about it. It has the potential to be good, or at least okay, but there’s a niggling in my brain that this is all kinda wrong and really needs to be dealt with properly. It reminds me of the millennium celebrations, specifically the KLF’s Fuck the Millennium concert and song. It struck me that the best way to comment on the Olympics from a cultural perspective was to do so in a similarly inarticulate manner. So it was with a degree of pleasure that I came across fucktheolympics.com today consisting of one image:

graffiti

and the ominous promise “Coming Soon…”

I hope whoever owns it does a good job. (And no, it’s not me. I do have my eye on fucktheolympiad.com though…)

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9 Responses to Spirit of 77

  1. Tim says:

    I had been quite worried about the cost of the 2012 olympics, and the need to put on an enormous spectacle for an opening ceremony that would probably end up looking pathetic. But now it has been revealed that the chinese cheated, I feel much happier. Rather than actually putting on a real opening ceremony, we can hand the whole project over to a bunch of students as a degree project and they can create us a stunning “virtual” opening ceremony instead.

    No need to worry about Wembley style building delays delaying the 2012 olympics until 2014 either – Just wire up a load of Wii-fit machines in any old warehouse and the add the stadium on in post-production. – Sorted!

  2. The 2012 Olympics is supposed to “regenerate” the East End. If that’s the case perhaps they ought to hold all the events in a tenement block. I’m sure it’s manageable.

  3. M.Lawrenson says:

    I have ignored the Olympics. But there’s one thing history shows us – Totalitarian states do ‘events’ very well. You must have seen ‘Triumph Of The Will’ or those Moscow May Day parades from the 1980s. They’re impressive, mainly because everyone knows where they are and what they are doing. Or else.

    I have no doubt the 2012 Olympics will be as bad as the logo, mainly because the only people taking it seriously will be the athletes. In Britain, we can’t take things seriously. We assume incompetence, stupidity and lack of attention from anyone in charge of anything. It wouldn’t surprise me if the stadium floodlights failed during the opening ceremony because the organisers tried to save a few quid by using cheaper fuses.

  4. Dave C says:

    Did anyone else notice the shift in media coverage of the Olympics. At first the UK media took the opportunity to do stories on human rights abuses in China, but as so as we started winning medals (and more medals, and then some more medals) there was (it appeared to me) a complete about-turn by the UK media.

    I personally don’t care very much about Sport or London. Thus ‘London 2012′ is a double dose of apathy for me. A part of me hopes that the whole ’2012 Mayan end-of-the-world prediction’ actually happens a few months early to coincide with the opening of the London Olympics :)

  5. Katie says:

    I’ve read that the London bit of the Olympic handover show cost £2.5 million. _Two_ point _five_ _million_ quid!

    If that’s the case, how much will the full opening ceremony set back the arts and cultural budget? I shudder to think.

    So, I’m with Tim the first commenter – we should just fake it …

    Get the Gorillaz, Aardman Animations and any other sound/film/animation/post-production lot that are worth their salt to put together something whacky and Union Jack-themed, then broadcast it on a huge plasma TV (with a porcelain milkmaid on top), wedged into the corner of Wembley Stadium.

    Of course we’ll have to spend a bit more money upholstering all the seats to look like faded armchairs, hand round greasy bacon butties and give everyone cups of weak, milky tea. In chipped mugs.

    Hmmm, this is still going to cost …

    But we could pepper the show with adverts to make up some of the cash. Oooh, and the rest of it could be raised by having a phone-in, so we all pay for it but – here’s the best part – we don’t even realise we’re doing it!

    Ta-daaaaaaaaa! Arts and cultural budget saved!

    *depressed slump*

  6. focalplane says:

    Go back to ancient Greece-style, have all the athletes run round the stadium naked, announce the games have begun and have fireworks. Minimum cost, maximum effect!

  7. Kenny Laurie says:

    I think London 2012 should introduce towel snapping as an sport. Not only would it be just brilliant to watch grown men in nappies hopping up and down avoiding towels being snapped at terrifying cloth speeds but also seeing the faces of the athletes after a corker cracks against bare skin. Thoughts?

  8. eightball says:

    as Dave C put it: “I personally don’t care very much about Sport or London. Thus ‘London 2012′ is a double dose of apathy for me.”… i couldn’t agree more…
    millions spent on what is for me a minority interest, millions of pounds diverted from lottery funding round the whole damn island to fund a big ol’ sports-day for celebs and dignataries… so that’s arts-festivals, interesting new buildings, community projects etc all put on hold for a few politicians to swan around congratulating themselves for organising something as redundant as this…
    i’m not anti-sport, i go to a gym to work out… maybe the money should have been spent on getting the population off their backsides by building more facilities around the whole island.

    plus the logo looks like lisa simpson giving hand-relief to an old man… eeeewww!

  9. Dave Harte says:

    Pete’s post was about the Olympiad which I too have worries about. The only arts event the outside world sees at an Olympics are the opening and closing ceremonies, not four years worth of arts-related build up to them. Given the pedigree of the artistic director for the Beijing ceremonies we should get Ken Loach and Shane Meadows to do a double-header on 2012. I’ll let your imagination do the job of working out what they’d come up with.

    Overall I thought the 2008 Olympics were a blast. As a lover of sport they had some great sporty moments. As a lover of over-the-top Busby Berkeley style spectacular they had that too. As a sentimental fool they also had plenty of crying on live TV – my particular favourite. As a Brit with Irish background I was proud of our haul and chuffed the Irish fulfilled a national stereotype in winning a few medals in the boxing.

    I can;t wait for 2012 and I’ll be first in the queue for the rhythmic gymnastics and mountain biking – although the whisper is that Londoners get first dabs on tickets so maybe I’ll be second in the queue.