Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 11:40 AM

Opening Ceremony of Beijing Olympics: unprecedented, spectacular, awe-inspiring!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

I cannot recall ever sitting in front of the television for more than two hours to watch anything without a book, magazine or my laptop computer competing for my attention – until last night. 

Because the technological wizardry, choreographed precision and sheer grandeur of everything on display during last night’s Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics kept me so mesmerized – in such shock and awe – that I even sat through the commercials.

In fact, I found myself continually exclaiming – “How did they do that?!” Specifically, I marveled at the serene manner in which the Chinese fused 21st Century technology with ancient graphics, costumes and choreography to remind us that they were the world’s only superpower for centuries before the Americans even thought about fighting the British to give birth to the United States of America.

Previews of the Opening Ceremony on Friday suggest that it’s going to be an extravaganza unlike anything we’ve ever seen…. [T]he story of these Olympics will be … China dethroning the US as the quadrennial all-around medal champion (which, more than their insurgent economic power, would signify that this is truly the Chinese century).

[An “Olympics” moratorium on complaints about censorship and human rights in China … please!, The iPINIONS Journal, August 5, 2008]

Frankly, after watching the Chinese reinforce their jingoistic pride in such unprecedented, spectacular and awe-inspiring fashion, I have no difficulty envisioning a world in which China, not the US, is hailed as the sole superpower. Especially since China has already usurped America’s political and economic influence in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. And the Chinese have clearly figured out that an arsenal of nuclear weapons does not a superpower make….

Meanwhile, I was extremely annoyed to wake up to screaming headlines in the American media about a “tragedy in Beijing.” Because I immediately thought that China’s worst fears had come true; i.e., that a terrorist attack or natural disaster had killed so many that it made the tragedy of 9/11 or the Szechuan earthquake seem relatively minor. 

Whereas, in fact, the only thing that happened was that a Chinese madman managed to kill one American tourist in Beijing. 

Now, admittedly, this is a tragedy for the American family affected.  But declaring that this murder has marred the success of last night’s opening ceremony (and will mar the success of the Beijing Games) is patently ludicrous and betrays America’s double-standards and overweening narcissism.  After all, no American believes today that the terrorist bombing in Centennial Olympic Park, which killed two people and injured over 100, marred the success of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Meanwhile, according to the International Herald Tribune, the wizard behind last night’s opening ceremony (as well as the closing ceremony) is legendary Chinese movie director Zhang Yimou

And it’s particularly interesting to note that Zhang initially retained Stephen Spielberg as a consultant.  But Spielberg quit abruptly after being criticized as an enabler of China’s human rights abuses (especially with respect to the Chinese government’s crackdown on Buddhist monks in Tibet and its support for the Sudanese government that is responsible for the genocide in Darfur). 

Thankfully, Zhang was undeterred.  Because, frankly, I believe Spielberg’s caving under this misguided political pressure proved a blessing in disguise for him and China. After all, I can’t imagine Spielberg’s Hollywood influence doing anything to improve last night’s extravaganza; in fact, quite the opposite.

Finally, even though pictures cannot do this opening ceremony justice (and words even less so), here are a few to give you a sense of what was on display:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Articles:
An “Olympics” moratorium on complaints…
Neither torch protest nor deadly earthquake dents Chinese Olympic spirit

Comments

  1. Noel August 10, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    LOL!

    You had me all the way until I saw the photo of Bush….. WTF? Spectacular should never be used in the context of Bush….. it kind of loses it’s meaning.

    I have to agree with you about the opening ceremony’s. I sat on my couch with my bottom jaw gaping. To use my wife’s vernacular, “Stunning!” I think Spielberg would have sullied it in a E.T. sort of way.

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