Every four years, an event unlike any other arrives. Athletes from around the world unite for one cause: advertising McDonalds. Oh, that and representing their homeland in a series of unimportant and easily forgotten sporting events.
The summer Olympics have arrived.
For the next two weeks, the world’s most elite athletes will swim, jump, run, dive, shoot, slide, flip, and dance (stupid rhythmic gymnastics) in an attempt to prove that their country sucks less than many other countries. There is no better way to start off an event like this than with a gigantic shindig for the world to watch.
Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) was hired to create the greatest opening ceremony in history. Apparently, though, Boyle just took a great deal of acid and wrote what he hallucinated.
The beginning of the ceremony showed James Bond walking into Buckingham palace. As the top British secret agent is prone to do, he was paying a visit to the queen. After sharing a knowing glance and a few words, the two made their way to a plane to skydive, a very queenly activity, into the Olympic stadium.
After a brief performance that seemed to imply JK Rowling and William Shakespeare are the two greatest writers in history, we launched into a weird fever dream. Hundreds of children slept in their glowing beds as British children are known to do. While they slept, dozens of strange demon ninjas leapt about. Captain Hook and Cruella Deville meandered amongst the demon ninjas. All in all, it was one of the creepiest things that could happen to a child in a glowing bed.
To top it off, the beds were then replaced by an even creepier giant baby made of bed sheets, prompting even Matt Lauer to say “I don’t know if that is cool or creepy.” According to my informal survey (myself and my wife), it was very creepy.
The chaos did not stop there. Mr. Bean performed the theme from “Chariots of Fire” with an orchestra. There was an interpretive dance about the importance of social media. The inventor of the internet was shown typing in a strange tiny glowing house. Men dressed as doves rode bicycles while songs from “Abbey Road” played. Bob Costas made a Djibouti joke.
All of the while, soccer star David Beckham was taking care of the other key part of the ceremony.
For the uninitiated, there is a very important and dangerous part of the ceremony. Every Olympic games has a giant terrifying torch full of real fire. Fire is incredibly dangerous and can burn things down! This is by far the riskiest part of any ceremony.
So what did the good people from the International Olympic Committee do? They handed the torch to a young girl, put that girl on a speedboat, and allowed David Beckham to drive that boat at high speeds towards the stadium.
If I were to pick one issue to take with the opening ceremony, it would be this. There is a lot that can go wrong with fire on a boat. For instance, you could burn the boat down. Then all of the people on that burning boat would drown.
At an athletic event that features rowing, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing, putting this kind of responsibility in the hands of a soccer player is literally playing with fire. I would not trust Beckham to control a boat under normal circumstances. I definitely would not if there is fire involved.
Luckily, the Olympic gods were smiling down and Beckham did not kill or seriously disfigure that nice girl with the torch. After handing the fire off to an old man, the torch’s 12,800 mile journey ended with a lot of fireworks because nothing is better than filling a giant bowl of fire in the middle of stadium that is surrounded with hundreds of tons of explosives.
If the Olympics turn out to be anything like the opening ceremony, this is sure to be the greatest event in sporting history. Or the most confusing. I really do not know what to expect.
I do hope Djibouti wins something, though, if only to hear Bob Costas giggle.