Saturday, 28 July 2012

Spectacular but not honest

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games last night were an astonishing spectacle, carried off with real  panache and a deceptive professionalism. The lighting of the Stadium's Olympic cauldron was, in its way, even to this sceptic, moving and rather beautiful.
As a snapshot of what a certain strand  in our contemporary culture thinks of our history and how we got where we are today we can't fault Danny Boyle's tableaux.. 
On the other hand, some of us may feel rather uneasy, even disturbed, about a myopic historical narrative which featured the Suffragettes, punk rock, CND and an ageing Paul McCartney to the almost total eclipse of the civilising, compassionate  and nation-building contribution of the Christian faith (I fear the singing of the hymn, 'Abide with me' had more to do with the opening of FA Cup finals than anything deeper.) 
I'm afraid the way we are allowed to express our 'multiculturalism' [or do I mean rather living in a country where there are citizens whose origins are  from a wide variety of cultures and traditions?] which is an established  fact of our national life now - we have to make it work - leads to an airbrushing out of any facets of our history which makes those responsible for the prevailing cultural orthodoxy - the Cromwellian purveyors of political correctness -  feel uncomfortable.
As to the industrial revolution sequence .... my first impression is that it looked like a piece of early Soviet propaganda (perhaps it was the sight of the top hats and cigars of the capitalists confronting the honest cloth caps of the toiling masses); it wasn't quite left-wing agitprop, but it was perilously close to it. 
Again, as a celebration of the conventional preachy leftish views of the new 'great and good' of our society the ceremony was perfect - guaranteed to massage rather than to inform. Rather than being 'quirkily British,' in its view of the world - under the eccentric and humorous surface - it was really just another gloss on the predictable, sanitised, 'Hollywood' internationalism we've become used to.
But it was only the opening of a sporting event - does it really matter? Probably not much; but in some ways it does add imperceptibly to the overall feel of a radically changed culture which has little or no place for the faith and values of our fathers. Looking at the arena, and the thankful absence of lions, I couldn't help feeling relieved that we weren't the entertainment...

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