Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympics Opening Ceremony

After 7 years, finally it's here. Of course, the opening ceremony happened about 15 hours ago but we finally get to see it in the US on NBC. I saw part of the wire-fu torch lighting on YouTube (thanks Sam), so I hadn't planned to watch it on TV. However, my mom called me at work several times today to remind me to watch it so I'm watching it. The NBC coverage actually started at 7:30pm and they had an interesting video introduction of China. Right now they're counting down to 8:08pm... ooh, lots of fireworks.

The NBC announcers said that the opening ceremonies has 15,000 performers and cost ~$300 million; Athens spent only $30 million in 2004. Crazy. I guess you can say this about any government spending but that's a lot of money. Even 1/2 that amount would go a long way in helping rebuild Sichuan. Maybe the Chinese government has so much money that $300 million is pocket change; supposedly ~$40 billion was spent on preparations for the Olympics. Somehow that just feels wrong for a communist country. Perhaps China is similar to the US but more extreme; it's a rich country (the government anyway) with a lot of poor people.

They just show a shot of George Bush talking to Vladimir Putin. Was this before or after the border skirmish between Russia and Georgia? Some people think that Russia is using the Olympics as a distraction while their tanks roll into Georgia. Interestingly, the US has been training and supplying the Georgian military for several years. Sorry Ronald Reagan, the cold war ain't over.

Now they're doing something with a huge scroll that is supposed to depict Chinese history. Leon just called me and we were thinking the same thing... are they going to show stuff about modern Chinese history? The Great Leap Forward (more like the great famine)? The Cultural Revolution? Sure China has a long 5,000 year history but the craziest shit all happened after 1949, thanks to Mao. It still irks me to see his portrait hanging everywhere in China.

OK, I'll stop typing and watch the rest of the ceremony. It's pretty impressive but starting to drag a bit; did previous opening ceremonies last this long (60 minutes and counting)? This keeps reminding me of Mass Games and North Korea except over there it's 100,000 performers and Kim Jong-Il is the only audience. Ironically, the huge show was created by Zhang Yimou, a famous director from China. I've seen many of his films but some of them were banned in China.


Anonymous said...

the "China expert" commentator made me laugh out loud. he said something to the effect of "look at every minute gesture. it is very characteristic of the Chinese attention to detail."

huh????? attention to detail. maybe everything out in the west is different than Beijing because everything seems it is done half-assed out there.

how come the soap dispensers don't dispense soap?

another came when, "you can see the attention to detail even at a McDonalds' and how the staff serves you a hamburger" (trying to remember the exact phrasing). what attention to detail are they following when they are clearing out their nostrils with their fingers?

The kept talking about showing the world the real china. what i'm seeing on TV is not the china i know and love(warts and all).

totochi said...

Seriously... I was watching when they introduced their "China expert." My first thought was, "Huh, why didn't they get a Chinese guy?" I think either one of us would have been a better expert.