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|Volume 11 |Issue 33| August 17, 2012 ||
Writing the Wrong
An Overview of the Abysmal State of Geo-politics i.e. the 2012 Olympics
The Olympics ended this week, with tremendous pomp and circumstance, and a closing ceremony designed by someone white, and male, but a sensitive white male, who makes culturally sensitive films about blind Balinese basket weavers that go on to win Oscars to assuage European colonial guilt or some such thing. I think they need to stop calling it the Olympics and start calling it what it is, which is “The Competition Between China, Russia, Great Britain and The United States to see Who Is The Best, with Germany and One Extremely Arrogant (And extremely fast) Jamaican Runner Thrown in for Variety XXXI.”
The runner I am referring to is Usain Bolt. Do you think his parents just forgot to add the “H”? At any rate, the IOC did consider renaming it the above but could not find a company who made large enough banners for such a long title. Plus, Israel got annoyed at being left out since it considers itself the 51st state of the US when it's convenient to do so, like during Presidential elections. Did you know that they are being added to the Electoral College? They count for 12 electoral votes, more than New Hampshire, less than Texas. Netanyahu offered to tack Israel on to New York, as another borough from the Upper East Side to portions of Brooklyn, to mollify those unreasonable Americans who might take umbrage at having a wholly separate foreign theocracy arbitrate who becomes OUR president. But I digress.
The opening ceremony, designed by Danny Boyle, a sensitive, white male, who made a feel-good movie about Indian slum kids, (please dwell a bit on THAT oxymoron) was a source of tension for me as it always is because I feel very sorry for the less popular countries. It is doubly stress inducing as I am from both, well, the MOST popular country ( at least according to People's Magazine's Top 10 Hottest—Not Weather Wise-- Countries in the World), and one that most Americans have never heard of, our beloved Bangladesh.
The march of the Olympians into the stadium reminds me of high school, and graduation day when names were called and the cool kids got an auditorium full of cheers, and the geeks got one person, usually an over zealous, hard of hearing grandmother, clapping maniacally into the yawning silence. Something akin to that happened during the opening ceremony. The over one hundred strong Australian team files in, looking bright eyed, tanned and in at least the 70th percentile of overall physical appeal, and the roar is deafening and it's all “Good on ya, mate!” Soon afterwards, Bangladesh comes in with their five athletes and suddenly the din softens. There is some confusion as to who these happy to be out of humid Chittagong, smiling contingent is. One lovely, elderly woman who flew all the way from Duluth, Iowa, spending her life savings, exclaimed, “Oh! They must have gotten separated from the Indian team the poor dears.” Yeah, honey, in like 1947. Thank God she didn't say the Pakistani team, huh? *Never mind, I yelled until I was hoarse when I saw the green and red flag.
Apparently, the Cold War is not really over, it has just been transferred to the Aquatic Centre, and Whitehall, where incredibly fit girls in small bikinis, who miraculously manage not to get sand in odd places, spike balls at one another to the ogling awe of a stadium full of men and women with very short haircuts. One of the most painful bouts for me to watch was the women's beach volleyball match between China and the US. It was not painful because the playing was not top notch. It was painful because the whole time I was cognizant of the fact that even a decade ago China did not know what the hell beach volleyball was. They just wanted to beat the US at something it was known for and to emulate us. It's not enough that China owns us lock stock and barrel, they have to attempt to one-up us at one of our sexiest athletic events. They did not win, of course. Also, they are not quite adept at rocking the bikinis and still lack that Californian/ Sort of Buddhist nonchalance that accompanies anything beach related. I am fairly certain, however, that The Central Committee has already set up a training facility aimed at coaching a generation of medal winning beach volley ballers to high five exactly as the Americans do so they at least look the part.
“Lin Mei, no! High Five and THEN fist pump when you score. Didn't you see how Kerry Walsh and Misty May-Treanor did it? Also, by the way, we have changed your name to Rusty to sound more beach volley ball-y. No, I am not being funny and anyone who pronounces it Lusty has to drop and give me fifty. Eventually, we will buy Malibu and you can train there,” the coach adds.
Only the Americans can take something a few shiftless California beach bums invented and turn it into an Olympic event. There is a group in Maine lobbying to have “Sitting around in our underwear, drinking beer and burping while watching drag racing on Sunday morning” admitted to the games. Rumour has it they were very close to striking a deal with the IOC but that Ukraine might have beaten them to the punch, claiming the invention of the event as their own.
Then of course there was the much lauded and anticipated women's gymnastics. And in true American fashion a rivalry had to be highlighted or even invented. In this case it was usually between the baleful Russians and the smiley Americans or the latter and a former member of the Soviet Union. Ali Raisman lost the bronze to a statuesque Romanian named Catalina Ponor on balance beam…no wait! She didn't. Ponor received the higher score landing the bronze but then Bela Karoly, the legendary (formerly Romanian, talk about irony!) coach made a big stink and started making hand gestures that presumably meant, “I am a self loathing defector who saw only dollar signs and abandoned generations of amazing gymnasts for a house in a gated community and a Cadillac.”
Karoly's stink caused the judges to re-assess and Raisman got the bronze. The look on Ponor's chiseled face, and you can be sure NBC moved right on in, with Raisman celebrating in the background , was stoic in that Slavic way and gave away very little but I have it on good authority that she walked into the locker room and said, “Those bloody Americans, taking what's not theirs. They're just big bullies!” Her coach shrugged and said, “What to do? You knew the Olympics belonged to them. They invented product placement.”
Speaking of product placement, in an unfortunate “gaffe”, NBC cut from a clip of Gabby Douglas, the US gymnast, and an African American, hanging from the uneven bars to an Ad with a monkey hanging from the uneven bars. I am not going to elaborate too much on this one as I feel it speaks for itself. It appears that the social, domestic situation in the US is just as horrific as the geo-political one in the rest of the world.
Well, another Olympiad ends and our eyes look towards 2016 and Rio De Janeiro, that has remarkably been emptied of nearly all of its favelas or slums to make the Games more palatable to the important teams because super power sensibilities are delicate and Kate Middleton might show up. The nearly 400, 000 residents of said favelas are being re-located to a more suitable place—Noakhali—as Bangladesh—in a hearty show of Olympic spirit—have offered to take them. A surprisingly succinct statement released by the Noakhali Slumlord's Association says, “We welcome our Brazilian slum brethren with open arms, and hope their stay with us for the duration of the games is a merry one. There is no electricity, or running water, but plenty of violence, open sewers, drug use and corrupt police demanding bribes every now and again, as well as mounds of disease causing garbage lying about so we know they will feel right at home. We only request they delay their traditional Brazilian merriment until after Eid. Obrigada (thank you in Portuguese).”
Danny Boyle already has a script in the works. No word yet on the cast, but Frieda Pinto, the heroine of his previous feel-good film has a Portuguese sounding name, and is South Asian, and as authenticity doesn't seem to be of concern to many filmmakers these days, is probably a shoe-in.
* I did not actually attend the Olympics in person, but was very much involved and well-informed from my couch.
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