Not just shit but dangerous
posted on August 13th, 2012

I knew Kim Gavin’s Closing Ceremony would be the antithesis of the crazy-beautiful joy that Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce brought to the opening night: I knew it would be predictable and mainstream. But that was fine, we’d have a laugh, enjoy the music acts we like and I honestly thought it would still be funny after three hours. Witnessing the pop stars and lickspittles trying to equal Boyle’s heady brew. Art is subjective, after all.

I was mistaken: it was a numbing, disheartening disaster. The biggest floating turd we ever did whiff; reducing, demeaning and re-squishing Britain, at the very moment we’d felt shifted long-term for the better by these liberating Olympic Games. In one fattened pig of a gong-show, Gavin forced us back into clunky shackles that Boyle and Boyce briefly, tantalisingly freed us from, only a month ago. Far worse than just being bad, what unfolded was – I think – proper fucking dangerous. You know that phrase: the banality of evil. So.

There’d been rumblings that Danny Boyle didn’t put enough Churchill in. Our war leader, fast deposed in peacetime, wasn’t given enough of a strident voice for organisers’ tastes. Because obviously we need thoughts of conflict and top-down triumphalism, not co-operation and shared effort, to show us off to the world on the eve of a big sports pageant. Dur. Anyway, Kim Gavin kicked off by correcting that error, with admirable actor Tim Spall bellowing something from The Tempest, stretched over a noisy background canvas in awful parroting rasp, reprised in broader strokes from his performance in The King’s Speech. Not a fresh moment then; instead lifted from someone else’s casting and someone else’s process.

This flags up clearly what was about to happen for fucking hours: piles of stuff presented as unique, weighty or historical that was actually just re-staged ubiquity; hackney carriaged bits and bobs, flung up-and-out on stadium scale, nothing new added. Constantly disappointing, the show repeatedly heralded musical legends who weren’t there; Bowie, Bush, they didn’t appear, just backing tracks over a tannoy. Desperately a commentator tells us Kate Bush re-recorded her vocal part for the ceremony. Why even bother, though?

Another outing for Emeli Sandé. In the Opening Ceremony she performed too but it wasn’t so much about her, then, as what she was singing: The Meaning had little to do with her domestic fame or career path. This time it was the opposite: entirely about Sandé as a PR machined product – and she went on for ages. I have to believe both Adele and Leona turned down Gavin, for Emeli to have got this length of slot; I’ve forgotten anything about the song except the totally Adele-ish solo piano accompaniment. Foghorn Florence was too edgy to appear, or too smart.

Gavin couldn’t get Oasis to reform; instead relying on Liam’s Beady Eye to karaoke ancient song Wonderwall. And what the fuck has happened to Liam’s voice? Once perhaps the greatest sneering, louche roar this country has produced – a rich, northern counterpoint to Johnny Rotten – yet now I guess ravaged by cocaine,  inactivity, far too much soft cheese, it’s a horrible whining dither. Like when The Fast Show one week swapped Jazz Club for Indie Club (ha, there’s a boring, outdated 90s reference for you) it was a disinterested parody of ‘alternative’.

I reckon George Michael’s live auto-tune was still on as he spoke between his two songs, so his voice glitched out as if he’d breathed helium.

And the most audaciously lazy bit of all: the entire audio track of the opening section then replayed as backing soundtrack to the athletes arriving and partying. Gavin couldn’t even be bothered to pick some different tunes to play out over the PA. Even the shittest amateur wedding DJ wouldn’t pull that stunt. So cheapskate, one almost expected the Spotify adverts to interrupt halfway through.

Such relentless, vacuous prioritising of burger van iconography over real-life performance (or talent) is summed up by Russell Brand’s song’n’dance number. I like Brand but he is a stand-up comedian, television presenter and sometimes a useful cultural commentator. None of these are here, instead we rely on his hyperdriven celebrity itself to carry something that is patently (and self-knowingly, since he played it for laughs) drivel. Now I’m getting carried away slagging it off but there is a more important thing needs highlighting about this show, with a direct comparison:

From the Opening Ceremony, take Atkinson-as-Bean’s comic bit around Sir Simon Rattle conducting Chariots Of Fire. Whether or not you enjoy Bean, this was an undercutting and re-humanising of an epic ‘classic’ piece of music that – without fundamentally lessening its power (it was subsequently used throughout the Olympics) – took it to a previously unseen, interesting, funny place. THAT is how to treat an icon. It was Gerard Hoffnung-esque, de-mythologised the orchestra and took itself lightly without deadening itself. Meanwhile, there was Akram Khan’s powerful Indian dance in near silence, linked to Emile Sande singing Abide With Me in tribute to fallen comrades. Here, crucially, the ethnicity, or ‘exoticism’ of the dance is not the point of the dance, rather it is presented as part of a bigger ‘us’, while the emotion in the dance is its strength and focus.

Compare those two sections to their near parallel in the Closing Ceremony; where Eric Idle flounces through Python smash Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life before being interrupted by, again, some Indian dancers, who befuddle and confuse him, throw dust on him, leave him distracted. On a quality level; again nothing new or rare. Performances of this song take place every night somewhere across the UK as part of Spamalot. On a political level, it no way captured any of the subversive silliness of the original from Life Of Brian. All reference to the film’s edgy content exorcised, of course.

But far worse, this routine was entirely about the otherness and exoticism of the Indian dance juxtaposed against Idle’s familiarity; this was the dancers’ sole point; to be alien where previously there was comfort. This is deeply malignant. Idle’s uncomfortable adversity was cultural diversity, because that is how this ruinous establishment needs us to feel about multi-culturalism, even as we pay lip service to difference. We already saw clearly – for example in far-right Tory arsewipe Aiden Burley’s “multi-cultural crap” tweet and a Daily Mail piece so bursting with racism even they re-edited it – how Boyle’s opening work was drastically radical by comparison: ethnicity and background properly enmeshed and un-highlighted.

Kim gave a similar bashing to gender, sensitivity perhaps heightened by how the past three weeks has been an extraordinary Olympic Games for women; with significant, real steps taken. The ‘fashion biz’ segment in the Closing Ceremony was an unfathomably regressive bit of choreographed objectification. It felt deliberate, as if designed to rein in any aspiration or hopes that briefly glimpsed light this past month. Huge photos of girls in posh frocks. Superstar models appear, celebrified, apeing their runway work on flatbeds. It wasn’t a fashion show in itself, or a true celebration of design (which would’ve told us something about design). It was more like the revenge of the owner of the commodified clothes-horse: as if womankind needed to be ritually re-objectified, after a short respite month of being valued in a better way. Ramming back home the wider truths of rape culture and wealth-based costumery idealism.

Appalling on both fronts: politically (not party-politically but in its representation of us as a people, a nation, to the world) and culturally, through its sheer, gobsmacking lack of material. Kim Gavin’s ceremony contained not a single new or unexpected idea. Not one! Just relentless looping of overly-seen bits from other big recent shows, produced by the same hegemony. The Who perform. Tick. Brian May does a big guitar solo. Tick. Ed Sheeran. Tick. There is no content and no meaning here whatsoever.

They were perfectly within their rights to produce a poor show – or rather, a show I personally didn’t enjoy: one person’s piece of crap is another person’s fun party. But what they weren’t within their rights to do was claw back the goodness. They stole our rapture and they put John Lennon’s dead face onto commodified conventionalism. Kim Gavin is the perfect example of an endemic disease in the modern British arts industry: a hugely powerful establishment creative director who is not actually a creative person, or if he was, long ago outsourced it for status and pies. His show was not cookery but mere assemblage – a Lego house built from bricks we all saw already, outdated values and the co-opting and commodifying of grace. And not even an interestingly shaped whole.

What Boyle’s Opening Ceremony had done was open up the doors; a box of delights; the best of what we are and what we can be in Great Britain, how we built this motherfucker. Showing us our truthful crazy-beautiful spirit and heralding in two weeks of sport in such a way that we felt something could be reclaimed and changed. We repaid him by being the best athletes, volunteers and audience in history.

What Gavin’s Closing Ceremony has done is to throw Britain back in the box and slam it shut; fiercely and unquestioningly placing current hegemonies back in charge; re-infantilising and re-exoticising all that Boyle had tried to unlock for us; a revenge for the otherness and the hierachy and the celebrity-for-its-own-sake, just as these bullshit Cowellian things had seemed to be proven unneeded. It was a boot on our face. I wonder how we’ll repay him.

  1. 11:43 am on 8/13/12

    I cannot find the words to express how deeply I agree with every word and every sentiment you have expressed here. It’s almost like you were inside my head last night as I sat transfixed by the car-crash of a closing ceremony and reflected on how it was, indeed, a return to the tediocracy.

    Thank you for writing this.

  2. Chris
    11:45 am on 8/13/12

    I agree with all of this. The laziness in itself angered me the most. Judging from the ceremony, I don’t think that Kim Gavin has the intellectual capacity to understand how he homogenised gender and sexuality; gave racism and orientalism a nostalgic and affectionate nod; and once again repressed the idea that hard work is deserving of success, and not talent (One Direction performing ‘live’ and then being played again was a particular low point). What really gets to me though is that he must have felt that his audience – most of Great Britain and plenty of the world – would actually enjoy such a vacuous, servile, and garish display. I was insulted as an audience member. Danny Boyle did not deliver a Take That-themed jubilee T4 at the Palace performance revolving around label wealth and the power of selling records to children, why couldn’t Gavin? Boyle actually respected his audience enough to create a challenging piece of theatre, whilst Gavin managed to remove all humanity from his. It seemed that lots of bright lights, loud sounds and loads of movement were seen as an acceptable substitute for cultural value and artistic merit. I know value is subjective, but I would be fascinated to know how one might find any in the case of the closing ceremony. Surely there is a good side to it though? Surely we haven’t lost everything Boyle and the Olympics managed to encourage and evoke? An optimistic response would be greatly appreciated!

  3. Jules
    11:51 am on 8/13/12

    nicely written.

    I was there, and it was indeed pretty bad. I also couldn’t believe it when, after the athletes took longer to get in their pens that planned, the organisers put on the audio from earlier in the show, thereby revealing (a) that it was clearly dubbed and (b) they had no back-up plan for if the athletes should take longer than two Elbow songs to get in position. Major fuck up.

    I also think that was was billed as ‘the world’s largest mosh-pit’ ended up looking like the world’s largest kettle – the world’s athletes, penned in by the boys in blue, then forced to watch a display of celebrity and commodity.

    i also wondered about the creative team. It was Kim Gavin and three pretty boy friends of his, who had all worked on Take That’s Circus tour. That doesn’t seem to me sufficient credentials. There was a stark lack of humour, and a thematic incoherency – just various circus bits thrown together (like in, um, the Take That tour). The real question, then, is who gave the job to Kim Gavin?

    the experience inside the stadium was pretty shit – we had to get there at 5.30, for a 7.30 ‘warm up’, which was SO shit – one crappy little jazz band and a warm up presenter straight out of Butlins. The programme song list suggested Kate Bush and Bowie were playing, so really crap when they didn’t.

    And why have large car ramp jumps if no cars jumped them? Bathetic. Why build a pyramid of white squares only to take them down immediately? Why have cars covered in newspapers?

    but i don’t think its going to radically change britain that we had a shit closing ceremony. perhaps the proper closing ceremony was in hyde park….

  4. Ian Shepherd
    11:53 am on 8/13/12

    Sadly, I agree with most of that. One suggestion – change the final paragraph. Make it say “What Gavin’s Closing Ceremony TRIED to do was…”

    Because we don’t have to accept it. We can just assign it the complete lack of relevance it deserves, pretend it didn’t happen and remember the amazing two weeks that preceded it, instead. Like this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/10/london-2012-glimpsed-britain-fight

  5. Wozza
    12:00 pm on 8/13/12

    I bet you’re a lot of fun at parties – tutting in the corner, while everyone else is dancing. Sure, it was patchy (at best), but it wasn’t supposed to have ‘meaning’. Oh, and if Adele did turn it down, it’s probably because she’s 8 months pregnant…

  6. Arthur
    12:20 pm on 8/13/12

    Exactly my sentiments.

    I’m almost as deflated by that awful closing ceremony as I was inspired by the brilliant opening ceremony.

    What a shame.

  7. Elliot Jacobs
    12:20 pm on 8/13/12

    Spot on

  8. Ben
    12:27 pm on 8/13/12

    I agree it was bad. But it wasn’t dangerous, just embarrassing. For me the problem was lagely one of scale. Where there should have been 1000 performers there were typically 50. It just felt a bit cheap and small . Like exchanging Rio Carnival with Margate Carnival. In fact, Rio’s 8 minute slot was so much classier. But I think the big take-away from these Games will be the positive atmosphere, the (largely) full stadiums, the great organisation, the fair play, etc. People will forget the closing ceremony quite quickly. And frankly the Brits should never be given the responsibility to put on one of these ‘parties’! Leave that for the Brazillians. Leave the sports administration to us…

  9. Richard Turner
    12:35 pm on 8/13/12

    You’ve saved me the time and effort of collecting my thoughts and trying to write something of my own about that abysmal, damaging and alarming negation of the achievements of London 2012. Now all I have to say is that I agree with you entirely and I’ll encourage everyone I know to read it.

  10. Darlene Tucker
    1:17 pm on 8/13/12

    Spot on! Being in America, our coverage of these wonderful Olympics was horrid and egocentric. So, I thought that must have contributed to the disappointment I felt in the trite and canned nature of the closing ceremony. The contrast with the opening ceremony, which left me with a feeling of awe, cannot be understated. However, must say I enjoyed these Olympics very much. Hats off to Great Britain.!

  11. 1:36 pm on 8/13/12

    Wonderful post, summing up everything and more I thought about last night’s travesty. It served at least to remind us how the whole of the Olympics could have been, and indeed how many of us dreaded it would be. I’ll never forget the sheer joy and multi-layered wonder of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, and the unfamiliar spirit and pride that has flooded the nation these past two weeks. Gavin’s lazy bag of tired cliches has tarnished that, but hopefully the bruise will fade, leaving the whole intact.
    Thank you for writing this.

  12. Ombudsman
    2:00 pm on 8/13/12

    “I bet you’re a lot of fun at parties – tutting in the corner, while everyone else is dancing” – yeah, keep dancing mate, as objects in the room are removed one by one without you noticing.

  13. DAVE
    2:03 pm on 8/13/12

    I thought Danny Boyle’s opening show was just as appalling.

    I liked the ceremony parts best — the cauldron being, for me, the most memorable and best bit.

    I give Boyle a little credit for trying to include everyone, volunteers, construction workers and all that. Then again I have a nagging doubt that it was padding and part of the doing-it-on-the-cheap.

    It was a sobering contrast to the last Olympics which flexed China’s wealth and control in our face.

    I was saddened more than shocked by the grassy hill fiasco, the “working class (but with new added ethnic minorities)”, frankly, it was so politically correct, it was a mess.

    Was it entertaining to those who do not analyse art and think about the intentions and deeper meanings (ie most people)? I don’t think so. I suppose it would be a meaningless mess to almost everyone.

    Perhaps the closing was a correction to that bewilderment. The opening lacked grassroots appeal, and could even be accused of being too highbrow for a typically lowbrow audience. I may be wrong, but I know Eric Idle would be enjoyed by foreigners who have never heard of Sande, that One Direction would be aimed at a different audience to that of Queen, the scope of the end show was extremely broad.

    No Adele (she is pregnant), no Cilla or Lulu, no Clapton, no Rolling Stones, no pomp and circumstance, but on the other hand, we did get some Darcy Bussell descending from the roof, a Welsh male voice choir, and Damien Hirst! You cannot please everyone, and you cannot cover everything – the UK is extremely creative and diverse, but this closing tried.

    If anything, both the opening and closing showed the world both good AND bad Britishness. The past and the present.

    I disliked both shows (not my taste), but even so, somehow both have congealed into one mush that — funnily enough — captures Britain and the incoherence of what that is.

  14. docjaq
    2:07 pm on 8/13/12

    I do agree. However, I also feel that maybe the opening ceremony has improved in your memory. From memory, that terrible social-networking romance part, Paul McCartney…? There were several awful parts to the opening show as well. Last night really was quite bad though.

  15. 2:14 pm on 8/13/12

    I think the central difference was that, like all the best films or TV series, Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony felt like the idiosyncratic vision of at most a couple of people, whereas last night’s closing ceremony felt like it had been created by an Arts Council committee: “Hey, let’s get in forty worthy groups and, er, just like see what they come up with.”

    I was overjoyed to see Eric Idle at first, but you’re bang on, the Indian dancing section was really uncomfortable and Alf Garnett-esque. But what really struck me about the whole closing ceremony was how uncreative it was. Anyone who has been to see a big-budget pop concert knows they can be gloriously creative in terms of staging, costumes, dancing, reimagining well-known songs etc. But last night was like a parody of a concert. If you want to highlight UK music, just stick a stage in the centre of the stadium and get all these amazing acts to perform!

    Oh, and this bit particularly rang true for me: “And the most audaciously lazy bit of all: the entire audio track of the opening section then replayed as backing soundtrack to the athletes arriving and partying. Gavin couldn’t even be bothered to pick some different tunes to play out over the PA. Even the shittest amateur wedding DJ wouldn’t pull that stunt. So cheapskate, one almost expected the Spotify adverts to interrupt halfway through.”

  16. Rose
    2:21 pm on 8/13/12

    I have to agree for the most part. How awful to be stuck there for hours on end. At least I could turn it off!

  17. vix
    2:29 pm on 8/13/12

    spot on. it was everything i feared the opening ceremony might have been that Boyle brilliantly avoided and did really feel like a horrible awakening after a two week glimpse at a differently configured Britain ….”i cried to dream again” indeed…

  18. J dee
    2:31 pm on 8/13/12

    Dunno – think it was TOO shit to be dangerous even. Ooh, it’s Ricky from the Kaisar Chiefs – lock up your daughters or more likely, your Mum.

    A significant 90s bias as well. It really brought home how bereft much of that decade’s music was of original ideas. And like some unintended meta-comment on Britpop’s awkward rehash of Beatlemania we had the ‘coming together’ of Britpop god Lennon’s face to the dirgish strains of ‘Imagine’. ‘Imagine there’s no countries…’ says John.

    Yes, imagine that as your watching ‘Planet Earth’ sweep the gold medal board – again – at Olympics 2024. Good article, awful closing ceremony, but from it I got a sense of relief that they saved the nonsense until the end…

  19. Kriss
    2:32 pm on 8/13/12

    Spot on, Chris.

  20. JIM GIBB
    2:51 pm on 8/13/12

    Wow thanks Chris
    I have spent half the day at work trying to put into words why I HATED the closing ceremony, but now I’m just going to print this out and give it to them.
    Everything I worried the opening ceremony would be and was not.

  21. 2:57 pm on 8/13/12

    Nodding my head off. Brilliant. You wrote this so I don’t have to.

    Only thing I’d add is to point out that the Indian dancers were either present through serendipity or someone was having a major go at Cameron who’d sneered at funds being used in schools for “Indian dancing”.

  22. Steve Cockayne
    3:14 pm on 8/13/12

    I have to say you tempered your anger quite well though you may need a new keyboard.

    It was mostly, if not completely a series of car crashes where all of the audience were left badly injured not the drivers or occupants.

    The music, well it was a hideous mix.
    The bits that everyone needed to dance to i.e the anthems and known party type hits went well but almost immediatly flattened by the next ill-conceived item.

    Even the worst disco jockey would not have got it that wrong. They could have even put in hi ho silver lining and people would have joined in after the first chorus.

    I can’t bear to go throgh the ruining (sic) order but here are my high and lowlights – mostly low.

    FatBoySlim in an Octopus – just pushing buttons as far as I could see – music recorded so why did the audience just not get a free iPod with it preloaded. Cheaper than hire him and watch him have a good time because nobody else did.

    Noel Gallagher with Oasis lite – OK voice very strange but he did the business.

    Pink Floyd tunes by someone else and Nick Mason on drum plus tightrope walker and the flaming man dummy – Baffled. No Gilmore? Why? Because he knew better and knew it would be shit despite Mason being there.

    The Who – reduced to miming and right at the end – and cut short pre-recorded tracks – where were they when the mods came in? Where was keith Moon? (my joke refrring to earlier daft person enquiring of the Who Corporation if he could attend the ceremony – completlye also forgot about John Entwhistle)

    The Octopus? – Do they live in the Thames? It Should have eaten FatBoySlim when it had the chance – who was on a personal trip only. Who gave DJs the right to appear in place of true talent and play a CD. Anyone can do that even if he did press a few wobbly buttons.

    Madness – One of the best bits (again) driven round at speed and off camera too quickly.

    JessieJ – Great talent outsinging everyone live in tune in time and with great confidence and power. Watered down with other blokes – Tiny Temper (I know) and some other dude.

    Queen – Freddie Mercury – He quite simply owned the whole place from the grave without singning a song. His voice and range so clear and missing from many people in the Slimelight thesedays.

    Brian May – The standard guitar riffs – always nice to hear but overdone reverb.

    Rolls royce convertibles – masterstroke – The only really good idea to drive artists round so everyone could see them.

    Muse – WTF? Over the top overplaying.

    George Michael – why was he allowed to sing his ‘new hit’ (I can’t even remember one word or note of it) – hit with a silent ‘S’. Probably a condition in his £1 rider. Freedom song carried so much more weight and emotion considering some countries records on the matter- he should have stuck to the lighthearted stuff.

    The Spice Girls – again some singing some with mikes turned off (does not matter which ones – we all know who). Always popular (for some reason) but I sincerely hope they do not reform on that basis as the (any) audience will be ripped off by them playing backing tracks fronting tracks, miming and will just be an excuse to dance in front of a crowd and fleece them of lots of money doing so. Their slot was exactly the right length.

    Annie Lennox – seemed to be a bit lost. Great talent and sang partly live. Completely baffled by the winged bloke and galleon – where did that appear in any of her albums? Missed opportunity to get the crowd going with another song they might have known and could sing along to.

    Ray Davies – RAY BLOODY DAVIES? – why if they did so much on fashion – did he not sing the dedicated follower of fashion song? Nobody outside the UK shores and plenty inside them too, knew who the F he was despite his 60s fame. the Uganadan gold medal bloke must have wondered what the blinking heck was going on!

    The girl by the piano – on twice. WHY? what a waste of time slots so devoid of other talent. Good singing but spread out the time a bit more evenly.

    Russel Brand – someone likened him to the Child catcher in chitty Chity Bang Bang rather than the other bloke he was supposed to be pretending to be. I thought that too but could not put my finger on who until i read it. Good performance miming ( I could not tell at first – that was until he forgot his loudhailer and his strangled loudhailer voice did not change – oops!). I like him a lot as he has a good brain but must have taken some performance reducing drugs to agree to do this.

    Dancers – all great and very colourful but hundreds in the same red leather costume? Must have cost a fortune. Wonder if the atristic directors will profit from that clothing production?

    Traffic jams at the beginning – London was not like that during the Games – it was a ghost town as everyone stayed out of the capital – just ask all the traders – there was no-one about.

    Not a bobby in sight (with or without a machine gun) – just look around the stadium and parts of London, there were hundreds. Not even a slow walking ‘ evenin all one’. At least he could have directed the traffic.

    Newspaper? ON EVERYTHING? Why? I did not get it apart from all that litter to pick up afterwards.

    Churchill – well i would have thought that the last part of ‘This was their finest hour’ speech (or similar) may have been more fitting. Timothy Spall did well to stop all that modern madness with the word ‘STOP’. It should have done right there, but no, it went on and got worse.

    Items missing:-

    Bond follow up – obviously not required even though a new film is imminent. Even a grouping of Bond and Johnny English would have been a masterstroke, but no, nothing humorous like that happened, oh no.

    DAVID BOWIE! – Rumour is that he is ill. If so, I humbly apologise but he should have been there and sung ‘Heroes’ which everyone in that stadium, competitors, organisers, helpers, volenteers, audience, designers buildiers etc. all were. They deserved it rather than a fast forward montage of Bowie photos and 3 second music clips. Pants by any measure.

    Kate Bush? where was she and why was her clip used which – to my untrained ear – was exactly as her record track. Chose a piece with some unintelligable wailing on it. A deal with God – which one? there must have been at least thirty different religious groups in the stadium.

    BLUR! – why were they in Hyde Park of all places – i wish i had been there or at least had the chance to watch it on the red button instead of that tosh.

    Having some weirdly dressed people running up and down ramps ‘an that’ was not the best way to show this. What were soldiers and guardsmen doing on stage playing inside modern songs. That jangled like a windchime in a gale. No harmony whatsoever. It reminded me of all the really bad ‘It’s knock out’ programmes of the seventies all rolled into one.

    The GOODIES? where were they? Del boy and Rodney? one episode that they may have only just got in Azerbijan – so they might have laughed, nobody else would have got it.

    Darcy Bussell did her best with hundreds of ballet dancers but lost as the cameras were too far away or too close.

    Stomp had it nailed down though what were the trapeze blokes doing just going round and round. No contribution.

    Humour of the cannon was telegraphed about 5 mins before as was the flaming man. Not one person would understand what that was about unless they had seen and or bought the wish you were here album from the late 1970s. I did. Most people in the stadium were not born then, i.e. nearly ALL teh competitors.

    Poor Eric Idle. He actually said out loud (I heard him so others must have) ‘WTF’ when the Bhangra blokes threw paint in his face. Juist what was that about? Shoehorning in something even Python would struggle to understand the logic of, to interupt a perfectly good song which everybody knew the words to, if not would quickly learn the words to FOREVER!. No wonder he said SHIT in the next verse. I am glad he did as I knew how he must have been feeling.

    Who was all this performance for? That is the question. If it was for everybody thjen we all got a small piece as if standing next to someone who gets a custard pie stuffed in the face.

    I could go on but my heart is pumping now the more I think of it. I was actually shouting at the screen at many points during the ‘performance’ The people in the stadium must have been doing that too, hopefully for better reasons than mine.

    As you said, it dropped us back into showing weird art forms rather than give out true clear clean messages and demonstrations of truly great British repeat BRITISH talent and performances.

    Steve

  23. 3:37 pm on 8/13/12

    Spot on — particularly about Eric Idle. To strengthen the point, it wasn’t just ‘dust’ thrown at him: he was part of a Hindu ‘Holi’ celebration, involving ‘attacking’ others with various coloured pigments. So what Idle was confused by — and what was conveyed to (I suspect) the majority watching who were unfamiliar with Hindu culture — was not only the ‘exoticness’ of the dancing but the ‘otherness’ of a religious practice. Way to go on the ‘let’s set back cross-cultural awareness and communication by a couple of decades’ front, Kim.

  24. 3:37 pm on 8/13/12

    Agree with every word of this posting (and many of the comments). Thank goodness for some intelligent life left. The rest of the world must think we Brits are all on drugs! Danny Boyle’s opener was much better in quality than last night’s closing ceremony, but lost marks with me for relating a truly bizarre and twisted history of Britain I couldn’t relate to. (Isumbard Kingdom Brunel was apparently just a wealthy capitalist, not an engineering genius, Queen Victoria, the Empire, Charles Dickens didn’t exist – the list goes on). As for last night, dear oh dear.
    I am so glad all the hype and NOISE are finally over. It’s great that Britain won so many medals (supposing the powers that be never get round to testing that backlog of drug tests accumulating in the fridges next to the security guards’ diet coke tins and find they need to take a few back. that is), but the noise, the hype the sinister corporatism and the sheer impossibility for people to get last minute tickets when stadia were clearly half empty was appalling. And there was no sense of dignity, decorum or actual ceremony throughout the Olympics (and very few moving moments not ruined by pop music blaring out or crowd noise at inappropriate places). Too many athletes larking around, declaring themselves ‘legends’ biting their medals etc.

  25. 3:37 pm on 8/13/12

    @Dave “It was a sobering contrast to the last Olympics which flexed China’s wealth and control in our face.”

    So, let me get this straight, rather than a moving, inclusive vision of Britain from one of the world’s foremost film directors, you would have preferred a cryptofascist display of power and wealth? To quote Al Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist persecuted by the Chinese state:

    “Because Great Britain has self-confidence, it doesn’t need a monumental Olympics. But for China that was the only imaginable kind of international event. Beijing’s Olympics were very grand – they were trying to throw a party for the world, but the hosts didn’t enjoy it. The government didn’t care about people’s feelings because it was trying to create an image.”

  26. Julie Carter
    3:41 pm on 8/13/12

    What would you have done then Mr Know It All?

  27. Nick
    3:45 pm on 8/13/12

    Well said sir

  28. 3:45 pm on 8/13/12

    For me, the difference between the opening and closing ceremonies was as follows:

    You could forgive all the embarrassing, cheesy, awkward bits of the opening because they were invariably followed up by something truly memorable or magical or profound or simply visually stunning. The only down side was ending on Fake Macca performing a Beatles tune out of time with the backing track. I even stuck around for the incredibly long, incredibly late parade just to see what might happen at the end — and boy, was that torch lighting special.

    I could probably forgive all the embarrassing, cheesy, awkward bits of the closing ceremony, if there were any truly memorable or magical or profound or simply visually stunning parts to follow them up. But there simply weren’t. The whole thing was mind-numbing car-crash TV with no actual car crashes. The main entertainment for me was laughing at how pathetic everything was and reading that almost everyone else on Facebook thought the same as me. The bloke falling out of the cannon made me guffaw and that was by far the most entertaining bit — but utterly pointless and non-referential, unless I missed a trick. But even the bitching only kept me entertained for the first two hours, after which, my brain started hurting and I went to bed.

  29. Ady
    3:49 pm on 8/13/12

    Thanks for this, I very much agree. Perhaps also worth mentioning that the I Am the Walrus section took its Magic Bus imagery straight from Julie Taymor’s Beatles musical Across the Universe. Itself not exactly high art but much better than this. Wozzas comment above is the usual rubbish. Bet youre fun at parties. blah blah. well we finally got a party for us. And we loved it. thanks Danny Boyle.

  30. claire fleming
    3:49 pm on 8/13/12

    o, it wasn’t great but nothing can detract the fantastic 2 weeks that preceeded it. it was – at the end of the day – simply a party, a let your hair down occasion. Lighten up

  31. 3:49 pm on 8/13/12

    Thanks, yes I agree with you. The Who’s “My Generation” was all about kicking away nostalgia for the past and enjoying the moment. Now the 60s, 70s and all the rest has become the new nostalgia, with poor old Ray Davies and Roger Daltrey wheeled out as museum exhibits amongst a lot of forgettable acts. The Stones or Clapton would at least have put on a better show. But really, what a disappointment when there is so much British music that could have been celebrated instead – why no folk music, brass or pipe bands give really imaginative lighting and presentation?

  32. L
    3:55 pm on 8/13/12

    Gavin has gone on record as saying it was meant to be the party at the end of the wedding. That is what it was: tired, confused and over-emotional.

  33. Jacqueline
    4:05 pm on 8/13/12

    You’re right about the show – though I agree with other comments that it doesn’t destroy the two weeks that preceded it, and I’m hopeful that Boyle’s vision of our country, which resonated so much with so many, will live in our memories far longer than Gavin’s lazy mess…

    Because I thought it was crap I didn’t watch much of it, but I did see the Eric Idle bit, and agree completely that it was racist and abhorrent; I also noted that for no apparent reason a group of young women were dressed in cheap hen-night angel costumes with their bras exposed. After all the talk in feminist circles about part of the Olympic legacy being young women gaining healthy-bodied role models instead of the usual page 3 objectification, using these girls to literally stand around showing cleavage was – to put it mildly – disappointing.

    I’d like to start a petition to get Gavin to donate his fee to charity! He should be ashamed.

  34. B33K34
    4:14 pm on 8/13/12

    We were discussing today who *should* have been there whilst keeping it mainstream.

    If you’re trying to show the best the UK has to offer surely we should:
    - stop wheeling out artists from the 60′s whose voices are no longer up to it.
    - avoid the latest ‘flash in the pan’ popstarz and reality show rejects
    - maybe focus on established artists who have some global scale. I can’t stand them but I could have understood it, and it would have made more sense, to have wheeled out Coldplay than to bring out the Spice Girls.

  35. 4:47 pm on 8/13/12

    Whilst I didn’t like the opening ceremony, or the games, I did think the closing ceremony was at least in keeping with the general tone. Indeed what could be more in keeping with GB PLC than mythologised patriotism and insipid pop presided over by a token royal waving…

  36. G
    4:56 pm on 8/13/12

    I don’t disagree with the assessment of the quality of the closing ceremony – nearly all the elements were crap and as a whole it was an incoherent, steaming turd. But so was much of the opening ceremony. Was Boyle’s spectacular better? By a mile. Was it good? Not very.

    And as for the rather feeble celebration of London’s fashion industry by parading some household name models… it was tedious and seemed trivial compared to Trott, Ennis et al’s achievements. But “rape culture and wealth-based costumery idealism”? Really? I think being bored stiff for three hours does something to your sense of perspective. And time. Boyle’s opening ceremony was a mere 17 days prior, not ‘only a month ago’.

  37. Tubbs
    5:04 pm on 8/13/12

    Bits of it were great – Bussell, Elbow, The Who – and bits of it not so much. Some of the camera work was a bit iffy. The party at the end of the wedding is probably about right. Hopefully all we’ll remember at the end of it are the bits we loved and the musical equivalent of your 60 year old auntie eyeing up the ushers after one too many sherries.

    The comment about Kate Bush stuck me as unfair. There was never going to be a live performance – she did some pub gigs in 1977 and a tour in 1979. If Dylan has a polar opposite, she’s probably it.

  38. Dragarazzi
    5:15 pm on 8/13/12

    Glad to see everyone has so much time on their hands!

  39. 5:29 pm on 8/13/12

    Last night was an utter wasted opportunity. It was what we feared that the opening ceremony would be. It was exactly the same feeling I had watching “Phantom Menace”, where my expectations were so high that I spent the majority of the time befuddled and unaccepting of the unalterable crapness unfolding in front of me.

    It was more of a let-down considering the unexpected bounty of the opening ceremony followed by the two weeks of drama and heroics, and, hey, “we can DO this” that London went through. It was so mediocre compared to everything that came before it.

    The morning after the opening ceremony, in a hungover haze, I dreamt that that ceremony ended with a Jools Holland-style pullback panning around the stadium to reveal stages containing, in turn, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, (yes, the Who too), and most importantly the Rolling Stones. I knew this was a fantasy yet it engendered hope in me at the possibility that maybe, given the closing ceremony’s focus on Britain’s deep trove of popular music, that we would see more than what we got, which was cut-rate, austerity-fied, toothless, tired and fake.

    Tease us with Bowie and Kate Bush? Russell Brand as the Walrus? Jessie J singing “it’s not about the money” from the back of a frigging Phantom??? And no look-in for the Stones whatsoever?

    Seriously, get fucked.

  40. 5:42 pm on 8/13/12

    One point – the models/fashiopn segment. IF the idea was to showcase the Uk as an important player in a major industry, why didn’t they use one of the most iconic models ?

    Where was Twiggy ?

    Or can we only have appearances from the 1960′s if they are re-Branded with a modern, ironic, slant ?

  41. Jim
    6:13 pm on 8/13/12

    If you’re genuinely allowing yourself to be upset by a pop concert that you didn’t have to watch then you have bigger problems.

    Yeah, it was a bit naff but so what? The rest of the world doesn’t give a flip. In the words of a sadly absent Franky: ‘Relax’.

  42. Ian Mackenzie
    6:14 pm on 8/13/12

    I enjoyed almost very moment of the Olympics but think this article perfectly described last night…. I wish I was this eloquent

  43. nick s
    7:15 pm on 8/13/12

    Olympic closing ceremonies are always forgettable, and always quickly forgotten. They don’t carry huge weight or significance, and are designed to give the athletes and spectators a last-night party and a messy stadium gig.

    If there was a mistake here, it was in believing the hype. Best not to dwell on it — or to imagine that it could have threaded a needle that no other closing ceremony has managed to thread — and to focus on the best of what preceded it.

  44. Anataboga
    8:00 pm on 8/13/12

    Christ TT – normally right but here failing to understand what the purpose of the ceremony is, big time!

    The opening ceremony of the Olympics is a chance for the host nation to show itself off to the world, to make statements as to what its culture and values are, how it places itself in the world order, how it wants to be perceived and where it wants to go. It is a spectacle for the benefit of the athletes, those attending the event and the world at large.

    The closing ceremony is not that at all, it is a celebratory party for the benefit of the athletes. That’s it, period. The people n the stadium, the commentators, journalists, those of us watching at home and people who write blogs are secondary hangers on.

    If you want to know if it was any good you need to ask the athletes who were right down there in the thick of it, their opinions are the only ones that matter.

    Trying to compare it’s purpose to that of the opening ceremony is a futile, pointless and just plain wrong. Yes things we’re cheesy and wrong with it but who cares, it was a party not a statement.

    Cheers,
    Jon

  45. 8:08 pm on 8/13/12

    The opening was precocious but fun, the closing was weak but fun. Surely the declared objective of both was to get a great sporting event opened and closed with music, colour and feel-good undercurrents of patriotism. I’d say job done. Why should either ceremony have or need ‘meaning’? This was a sporting event shown on TV, both mediums primarily for entertainment not education. It was all just a good and undemanding laugh and I thoroughly enjoyed both events.

  46. 8:55 pm on 8/13/12

    Yeah the unfunny comedy head jingling in the Eric Idle sketch was a bit *meh* and a bit *harrumph* but Eric Idle did at least say shit later on and thus subvert the cultural hegemony of er, stuff and that shit.

    Although the Indian Media are cock-a-hoop
    http://www.dayandnightnews.com/2012/08/bhangra-at-london-olympic-2012-closing-ceremony/

  47. 9:10 pm on 8/13/12

    I don’t know who Kim Gavin is, and I didn’t watch the clowing ceremony. Just adding my voice as one of the10%…

  48. 9:11 pm on 8/13/12

    That”d be ‘closing ceremony’…

  49. Marie Hughes
    9:39 pm on 8/13/12

    I felt so lifted after the opening ceremony ready for the greatness London Games and Team GB would do. And weren’t we great? We showed the world why there’s Great in front of Britain! …but the closing ceremony… where was the celebration? I felt so flat, it felt like Kim Gavin when he put this show together didn’t expect great things so had planned a little knees up at a wake instead!

  50. Martin White
    9:56 pm on 8/13/12

    Bang on, Chris.

  51. Mark
    9:57 pm on 8/13/12

    Last night’s Closing Ceremony only made me realise how even more awesome the Opening Ceremony was,it was always gonna be hard to top that and safe to say they didn’t succeed last night.
    Opening show had a flow,the set pieces seemed to flow from one to another so well,there was a detectable thread & a lot of attention to detail.It had cinematic sweep as you’d expect from a top filmmaker like Boyle,never got bored & was always left wondering what would come next.Never once checked the time. Tiny beautiful details and some mesmerizing imagery that will stay with us for years (the cauldron,the forging of the Rings,the Doves on bikes,the dance sequence set to Abide With Me,the sheer scale of the Satanic Mills set piece,the humanity of the NHS one),it had it all.
    Last night was big on scale,very small on attention to detail,it had very little flow & pace,it was VERY episodic,lurching from one thing to another incongruously.Way too much reliance on ‘celebs’,too much box-ticking & trying to cover all bases without any imagination.One Direction but no David Bowie even though they played his music.Too much awful singing from nearly everyone though (exception of Daltrey who bossed it,Jessie J who is reliable on the big occasion if a bit egotistical in not allowing Brian May to boss the stage & Gary Barlow who sang with enormous heart-unlike one or two other band members who sounded shocking).
    Russell Brand murdering a beautiful song like Pure Imagination was a crime although he had the foresight to mime I Am The Walrus,or else someone else did!
    I can only imagine Emeli Sande was a last-minute stand-in for Adele.There is no way that massive slot she got last night could’ve been for her.Adele is huge worldwide and could justify dominating the Closing Ceremony not Emeli. She performed beautifully in the Opening Ceremony but pretty awfully last night.
    Boyle used the Signing Children’s Choir to stunning effect in the Opening Ceremony,doing the National Anthem,which was wonderfully original,simple yet stunningly poigmant ( it drew the first eye water of the Olympics for me).They were wheeled out again last night to do a face-slappingly overly-sentimental version of Imagine,which was not original in the slightest & just compared very badly with their appearance at the Opening.
    Eric Idle launching into Bright Side of Life was a good touch but didn’t feel like it was in the right place at all.
    It all just felt muddled,shambolic and looked as camp as a row of pink tents.
    The Opening Ceremony was imaginative,delightful,shambolic too but in a very well organized way and nowhere near as camp!
    THe highlight of the night was the beautiful imagery of the cauldron dispersing under a huge Phoenix which was stunning,and the light show in the stands in both ceremonies was utterly amazing.Other than that,I’m struggling.

  52. Mike
    10:04 pm on 8/13/12

    Russell Brand is a stand up comedian? I stopped reading at that point.

  53. 10:08 pm on 8/13/12

    Very well said Chris. Thank you.

  54. 10:10 pm on 8/13/12

    [...] that I don’t go back over old ground. The quick version; me and patriotism have issues. Also Chris T-T got in before me here with a piece that renders much of mine redundant. But I have snark and [...]

  55. D
    10:15 pm on 8/13/12

    Thank you! I’m too lazy to have written that, but agree with every word. It was a Brit awards ceremony from the 90s.

  56. John Dee
    10:33 pm on 8/13/12

    Think it was TOO shit to be dangerous even; ooh, it’s Ricky from the Kaisar Chiefs – lock up your Mums. And as for John ‘Imagine there’s no countries…’ Lennon. Yes, quite. Now THAT’d be a dull Olympics…

  57. Terry
    11:50 pm on 8/13/12

    You are far too kind about Boyle’s indulgence of a painfully past-it McCartney and endless confused symbolism. The opening and closing ceremonies were carrying the embers of the torch of some kaleidoscopic New Labour vision that steered the event design from 2005-2010 where the overall vision is of a random, confused, classless and mostly rudderless multicultural Britain. Millennium Dome Mk2; and nothing learned.

    The games themselves usefully asserted that no one won anything by simply getting lucky (other than the odd conniving aussie cyclist) or merely being famous; all the winners (including the famous ones) got there by relentless gruelling preparation. British success was founded on relentless selection, elitism, preparation and in most instances, sacrificial levels of family and community support.

    And for there to be winners, there must also be losers – the exact opposite of the dogmatic ideas of the past 50 years that have driven the disastrous British educational experiment. And so the race to try and spin attention away from that particularly inconvenient truth is well under way in the media of the social engineering classes.

    In which context, the closing ceremony was simply a sideshow that reminded some of us that Freddie Mercury was 100x more entertainer than any of the live performers.

  58. 12:46 am on 8/14/12

    it was VERY shit but too shit to be dangerous i feel.

    not only is Kim Gavin no Danny Boyle – He(she?) is no Leni Riefenstahl.

  59. 1:00 am on 8/14/12

    [...] negative view of the event was captured in this post from Chris T-T. I have to say that while I may agree with many of the comments he makes in his post [...]

  60. Steve Ball
    4:50 am on 8/14/12

    Well said Chris – the good thing is that the media, authority etc will not be able to put a lid back on this countries spirit that easily –  blessed be Danny B blessed be me – in this instance volunteer cast member

  61. hossylass
    5:18 am on 8/14/12

    I cant help wondering if it was trying far to hard to give out a far too subtle message.

    I saw the taxis covered in newspaper and thought of Wapping, and our controlled, controlling and powerful media bending minds to warp point, of Lennon penning a peace song then being gunned down, of the celebration of celebrity – the celebration of the talentless by the vacant in the pursuit of money.
    I saw the models being demonstrated as so “last month” as this months golden girls are faster, stronger and much more admirable.
    Stereotype after stereotype was trotted out in all its glory, to its eternal shame.
    I wondered who was taking the piss out of whom to be honest.

    So it was either massively over-cooked and bypassed most people in its symbolism, or it was, as in this incredibly accurate article, a raging embarrassment of reality in the UK.

    And maybe that was the point – we had our pride, we had our glory, we built this land and now this is what we were left with, a shallow, empty, vacant, celebrity and media driven house of ill repute where capitalism is King.

    We built a dream, lived a Utopian ideal of all-nations-together-under-one-roof, striving for unattainable goals, and now the party is over.
    If anything brought us back to reality it was this closing ceremony, but maybe that was what it was intended to do.

    In which case, it was a cruel and unnecessary act.

  62. 6:42 am on 8/14/12

    @Jon: “The closing ceremony is not that at all, it is a celebratory party for the benefit of the athletes. That’s it, period. The people n the stadium, the commentators, journalists, those of us watching at home and people who write blogs are secondary hangers on.”

    Which is why, when the entrance of the athletes dared to run over its allotted time, they looped the backing track instead?

  63. 6:59 am on 8/14/12

    Dude, chill out

  64. Neil
    7:37 am on 8/14/12

    Terry, I think the opening ceremony was much more sophisticated than you give credit for. And regardless of any individual’s detailed analysis, it represented the country in a way that everyone I spoke to felt they both recognised and found inspirational. In short, it was hopeful and meaningful.

    So were the games themselves. You are right to assert that elite sport is poignant precisely because the enormous effort involved is very likely to result in failure. This reflects all our lives and so we can identify with the struggles of the athletes even if we have little personal experience of sport. And despite your allusion to modern educational policy, kids are well aware of failure. They are tested from a very young age. They see that success is measured in material terms and therefore the gap between being more or less successful is childlike in its simplicity. Olympic sport introduces a more complex vision of success and failure. Injury, disqualification and personal best times plus the impact of home support all give the lie to your simplistic understanding of gold inevitably going to he or she who has trained the hardest. But, one does not get a gold by luck alone. You’re right. Incidentally, one doesn’t win x-factor by luck alone – though the dedication required is worlds apart. Success in the Olympic arena is a powerful and complex spectacle because of the effort and the risks.

    But, if the efforts of the people of britain had been the focus of the opening ceremony and the efforts of people of the world in all their shapes and sizes had been the focus of the games themselves, the closing ceremony made winning look empty. Waving the bling around. I know it was a party. It probably felt good to the medal winners – some of whom who have now joined the same club as the folk miming on stage. But whereas I made sure my kids saw the opening ceremony and the games themselves, there was nothing of value to be extracted from the glitzy spectacle on Sunday night. And I accept that there needn’t have been. Just a party organised by someone I don’t have a lot in common with. The danger comes from broadcasting it on the same platform as the rest of the games ‘cos it felt like it tainted everything else. And it’s the sense of having something pure and true sullied by a cheap lie that made me personally feel angry.

  65. 8:31 am on 8/14/12

    Totally agree with every word of this. The Closing ceremony was a victory for Regressive politics. I’m furious that the lasting memory for many people, will be this horrible Xfactor style incoherent mess of a performance. It was only missing a solo by Simon Cowell. No wonder Boris and David were dancing so hard. They must be over the moon…. http://i.imgur.com/bKCUN.gif

  66. 8:31 am on 8/14/12

    Hi. Obviously I’m overwhelmed by your comments, thank you very much. Was amazing that this blog entry got such a wide readership, though I’m also relieved the website is working again.

    For the first time, I’ve had to ‘trash’ a few comments instead of publishing them. This makes me uncomfortable but with a few people just being vicious, it’s been necessary. In most cases if I’ve trashed someone’s comment, I’ve emailed them to say why. There have been a handful of violent / threatening comments (just a handful) and I haven’t emailed them back!

    But 99% have been fascinating, I’ll try to get more time to respond to points later, apologies if I don’t. xx

  67. Tim N
    8:54 am on 8/14/12

    I’m pleased to see that googling “kim gavin disaster” brings up this blog entry as the top hit.

    At least More4 were showing a couple of old Father Ted episodes at the same time.

    “I’ve explained this to you before Father Gavin. Your talent is small. Those talented people are far away.”

  68. Terry
    9:17 am on 8/14/12

    Neil:

    “Emperor’s suit of clothes” or “Some of the people some of the time” ..? That opening ceremony was the result of a bunch of mostly predictable ideas on a theme of a curiously “mongrel yet coherent” theme-park nation. Stirring music and a few clever bits like Brenda’s arrival, the DIY cauldron and kids to light it managed to leave a better impression than the whole thing deserved.

    Everyone knows about theme-park Britain – so this could have been bold enough to start (not finish) with our 20th century inventors like Tim Berner’s Lee and gone on from there to celebrate where we need to go now. And dare I say it, once upon a time it could focused on the BBC and its global contribution via the World Service.

    The one thing the 3rd Olympic games in GB did not need was yet another “oppressed people becomes jolly diverse melting pot” history lesson. Everyone knows about the dark satanic exploitative robbers barons (yawn) – but the world still overlooks that fact that we discovered/invented Antibiotics, Radio (Italian immigrant – tick!), TV, RADAR, Jet Engines, DNA, CT scanners and much more. What a waste of an opportunity, but I suppose it was inevitable given the grip on our culture (and especially our politics and media) by arts graduates who regard changing batteries in a torch as too technical for them to understand.

    But absolutely top marks for staging and technical delivery.

  69. 9:19 am on 8/14/12

    Hi Chris,

    I agree with a great deal of what you’ve written here. The closing ceremony was eveything the Olympics had shown us we didn’t have to be. Superficial, celebrity and money obsessed and just a bit shabby.

    However, I felt the use of the words “rape culture” with no context troubling. Not all degredation of women is about rape culture. Ending rape culture won’t lead to the end of misogyny, sexism or inequality. I felt the show generally represented more of a mysoginist face than that of rape culture – though there were flashes of that. I’m not saying you are wrong to say it was there, but I do feel you could have contextualised it a bit more – otherwise it just feels a bit like you’re trying to throw everything at once to see what sticks.

    Emma.

    If it was the supermodels in cages that led you there, I can see that, but I think more explantion was required, because

  70. 9:21 am on 8/14/12

    Of course it would have been better if I had put my spelling head on this morning!

  71. 9:28 am on 8/14/12

    [...] Originally Posted by rhowe that was the link I was given – didn't think to look up a canonical reference. could it have been a draft copy? link at the top: http://christt.com/words/closingceremony/ [...]

  72. Martin
    9:42 am on 8/14/12

    Most of the acts were shite and is the writer of the article actually saying he wished Leona Lewis was there?

  73. Dave
    10:18 am on 8/14/12

    Absolutely agree. The insidious nature of consumer culture for me is that, like some Attenborough documentary on campflaged predators, they trigger the conditioned responses of familiarity and shared identity – just before sinking their venom laced fangs into you.

    For example, Eric Idle’s piece (as you so accurately deconstructed). I love Eric Idle and have no reason to doubt his humanity or empathy with others. When it started, I thought his performance might counterbalance/ subvert some of the random noise that the Closing Ceremony generated. But the Indian scene just came across as colonial. A kind of “What are these people doing in my song (country)?” That wasn’t his fault and I sincerely doubt it was his intention. But it was difficult to see it otherwise in such a shambolic mess.
    What art there was seemed betrayed. I was never a particular fan of the Spice Girls, but I certainly respected their striving for an identity in a manufactured and constraining industry. At the Ceremony I doubt they have had less creative control since they sacked their manager all those years ago.

    But to return to the original point: a wolf in sheeps clothing. The Ceremony came to us with the goodwill of the Opening Ceremony and then, when it had got close enough, sank its fangs into us. The empty, soul-less and meaningless trappings of what looked like Emilie Sande (who I regard highly) and Ed Sheeran (ditto), but really turned out to be their doppelgangers chained to a corporate message about Britain as a commercial force with all the ‘little people’ knowing their place and doing their bit to keep the wheels of commerce turning.

    Why do I think all this? Because I thought about how it would have been transformed into a classic, IF there had been a setpiece on bankers revelling in their excesses (perhaps gambling in a casino built out of the Island) and another on inherited wealth passing by the homeless and council estate families whilst sneering. That would have demonstrated the power of seduction that consumer culture holds to medicate the people. That, I would have paid good money for.

  74. 10:25 am on 8/14/12

    Quite disturbing that you got threatening comments for an excellent opinion piece. I had a few ranters on facebook when I dared question “the spectacle” and had even had to block a couple. Strange but I thought these games had been held in London where free speech is allowed and not shouted down by a baying mob.

    As for the ceremony, yes I agree with pretty much everything here. Whereas Boyle’s ceremony attempted to celebrate amongst other things multiculturalism, this debacle was a very white, conservative middle class affair portraying the UK as a nation of fame hungry karaoke lovin’ celebrity obsessed adolescents. So I guess it that sense it really did succeed in capturing mainstream popular culture. A shame but perhaps somewhat inevitable.

    Best tweet during the ceremony “This is like Danny Boyle jumped off a Bedford Falls bridge and Clarence the Angel is showing him what life would be like without him.”

  75. 10:28 am on 8/14/12

    Also i think it is a *good thing* that the crass, venal and materialistic values it promoted were matched by such high level of incompetence (playing the same songs twice???), cock-ups (the tap-dancing totally out of sync) and obvious failure to attract the stars they really wanted.

  76. tom carry
    10:39 am on 8/14/12

    Bloody hell what is wrong with you lot , what more would you want from the fucking ceremony, sorry was it not up to your standards? oh yes i did forget that you are indeed the most important people within the UK, every single detail needs to suit your needs doesn’t it? Wait actually no and for those of you who do not understand why there were these performances from many artists well its because they our iconic British artists who played a huge part in the music industry, fashion industry ect….

    You obviously must not be British if you didn’t understand or enjoy the opening or closing ceremony.

  77. 10:40 am on 8/14/12

    [...] Python, the opportunity to do a Boyle and use the song to attack the Romans was missed, and, as Chris TT wrote in his searing critique – while the opening ceremony embraced every culture, here the [...]

  78. Conor
    10:52 am on 8/14/12

    Hey,
    I gave up on the closing ceremony early on, as such it would be inappropriate and misleading for me to comment on it generally. This said your description fits in as a continuum to my early impressions.
    I would however agree with some of the comments above regarding the opening ceremony. Although it was well organized and choreographed (and thus was a good job by many criteria) I felt that the actual events portrayed would be hard for most to understand, uninteresting and in some cases deceitful (black men amongst the ruling class in Industrial Britain – sounds like someone is trying to repair past injustice there). What was great about the Beijing opening was that it was Chinese AND esthetic. Even I, with embarrassingly little knowledge of the parts of Chinese culture that can not be digested, could enjoy the dances without understanding their cultural origins. The part involving the cell phones and the oh so short clips of music was pretty bad. IT was not esthetically pleasing (to me) and I still don’t quite understand its point – it seems to have been a way of saying ‘hey people we invented the internet’ which all at once misses a dual point that the internet as we know it is the fruit of many minds in many countries much as the Olympics is the work of many sportsmen from many nations. Boyle tried too hard to showcase Britain as a primary aim whereas, in my opinion, the greatness of Britain would have been better illustrated in a secondary manner by making a show that was classy, great and above all accessible to those you are trying to impress.

  79. John
    11:02 am on 8/14/12

    Well, I myself found the closing ceremony intolerable. I had to keep the sound turned down for most of the time. But this ranting jargon-ridden verbose hyperbolic barrage of hysterical rhetoric made me – almost – change my mind about the closing ceremony. And it was much too long. As were some of the responses to this man’s comment. People do like to go on and on and on and on. Which I will not do.

  80. peoplesunitedassembly
    11:46 am on 8/14/12

    They could use as many symbols and ceremonies as they like, but they will never own the spirits which are eternal and proclaimed to be coming for them. It is NOW TIME we are in. For all the powers they wield are nothing to the way of the one in all

    David Cameron has said that this is Great Britain’s time.
    Yes it is time; for the citizens of Great Britain to demand and effect the arrest of all MP’s who’s unlawful actions have directly resulted in, genocide, war crimes, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and abuse of Human and Civil rights.
    This is not a political issue, it is one of law.
    The laws they have broken are both domestic and International.

    The treaty for the renunciation of war 1928 [Kellogg-Briand-Pact] prohibits resort to war and requires that all disputes are settled peacefully.
    The UN Charter 1945 prohibits the threat or use of force and requires states to work together in conformity with the principles of justice and international law to maintain peace.
    The Nuremburg War Crimes Trials 1946 upheld the principle that waging aggressive is a war crime and that individuals rather than states can be held to account in a court for war crimes.
    The Geneva Convention 1949, 1977 govern the conduct of warfare, the protection of civilians and prisoners of war whilst prohibiting wilful killing, attacks on civilians, destruction of property, unlawful weapons as well as designating 33 separate punishable war crimes.
    The Genocide Convention 1948 prohibits the adoption of a policy to destroy members of a national ethnic racial or religious group as such.
    The Nuremburg Principles 1950 introduce the concept of personal responsibility for the universal offences of a crime against peace [waging aggressive war], crimes against Humanity, war crimes and complicity in such crimes.
    The Chemical Weapons Convention 1992 prohibits the development production stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.
    The Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention 1972 prohibits the development production stockpiling and use of biological and toxic weapons.
    The Landmines Convention 1997 prohibits the development production stockpiling and use of landmines and anti personnel explosives.
    The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998 gave the International Criminal Court power to prosecute genocide, crimes against Humanity and war crimes.

    Corporate, capitalists, multi conglomerates, banks, Governments and businesses ALL who are directly responsible for the destruction of habitats, species, environments, the displacement of indigenous people, the pollution of the natural environment, and using force to repress people are ALL in breach of Human Rights, and in many cases they are committing war crimes and crimes against Humanity.

    Your human rights breaches that the above are responsible for are:

    The right to life
    Freedom from torture and degrading treatment
    Freedom from slavery and forced labour
    The right to liberty
    The right to a fair trial
    The right not to be punished for something that wasn’t a crime when you did it
    The right to respect for private and family life
    Freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom to express your beliefs
    Freedom of expression
    Freedom of assembly and association
    The right to marry and to start a family
    The right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms
    The right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
    The right to an education
    The right to participate in free elections
    The right not to be subjected to the death penalty

    If any of these rights and freedoms are breached, you have a right to an effective solution in law, even if the breach was by someone in authority, such as, for example, a police officer or other official.

    Serious breaches in domestic and international laws that the above are responsible for including war crimes

    The Geneva Convention 1949, 1977 govern the conduct of warfare, the protection of civilians and prisoners of war whilst prohibiting wilful killing, attacks on civilians, destruction of property, unlawful weapons as well as designating 33 separate punishable war crimes.

    The Genocide Convention 1948 prohibits the adoption of a policy to destroy members of a national ethnic racial or religious group as such.

    This is not a political issue, it is one of law.

    Quote; “Not involving the use of armed force”
    We are all in NOW TIME
    It is each and every Citizens responsibility and duty to demand the law be applied and for justice to be done and seen to be done.

    Instinctive cooperation.
    #cameron #olympics #truth # closing ceremony #hereusnow http://peoplesassembly.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/great-britains-time.html

  81. Mandy W
    11:47 am on 8/14/12

    All it said to me was how British pop music died in the 80s, to be replaced by auto-tuned, formulaic rubbish, churned out to the masses. When was the last time an original new talent topped the singles charts? Someone who wrote and produced their own music and introduced us to a new way of looking at music, a new genre or something to really make you sit up and listen?

  82. pengrem
    12:03 pm on 8/14/12

    Thanks for writing this. I did think Eric Idle comparing the beauty and liveliness of Indian dance as an example how life can be “a piece of shit” was incredibly racist and mean…and have been surprised not to see an outcry over this. I love Life of Brian, and I love this positive/fatalistic song; it will take some time to remove from it the stink of that unfortunate juxtaposition.

    I’d also like to mention…

    Paralympics: Really surprised and saddened not to see one mention of the Paralympics still to come. Either the organisers forgot or simply feel they don’t matter. For them the Olympics is over; that “other” one clearly doesn’t count.

    Kettling: Finally a word about those poor athletes, rounded up and made to stand there, trapped, hour after freaking hour. What a fine display of another British invention: kettling.

    Too bad. Just too, too bad.

  83. Jason King
    1:04 pm on 8/14/12

    Quote
    “For the first time, I’ve had to ‘trash’ a few comments instead of publishing them. This makes me uncomfortable but with a few people just being vicious, it’s been necessary. In most cases if I’ve trashed someone’s comment, I’ve emailed them to say why. There have been a handful of violent / threatening comments (just a handful) and I haven’t emailed them back!”

    Shame on you ! Hello ……..Doesnt that tell you something !!!!!
    You have the right to put out there your opinions but then censor the consequences.
    Only show those that make you look good. That just justifies my argument.

  84. Chas
    1:05 pm on 8/14/12

    Chris,
    Your comments are largely persuasive but you really let down the force of your argument with two ill-thought-out phrases. First, I echo Emma’s point above about “rape culture”. That is a term used without context or explanation and does nothing more than further objectify women; this time as objects of suffering ie victim hood.
    Second, and more importantly, I am deeply troubled by your reference to Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem: a report on the banality of evil”. Already you will get a sense of where I’m going here…Arendt uses that term (used for the first time in modern history) to convey the discomfort she registers at watching the trial of a Nazi war criminal who conveys the sense of indignation at being tried for complying with the dictats of German law on the ‘evacuation’ of Jews, first, and then their extermination. It’s is Eichmann’s very “ordinariness” that terrifies, awakening the realisation that man’s inhumanity has a clerical face.
    There is just no place for using that phraseology here and it just weakens the force of what you say.

  85. Neil T
    1:16 pm on 8/14/12

    For all that was shite, nothing can compare to seeing David Cameron squirming in his his seat as the Indian dancers came on…. after slagging off Indian dancing in schools, you could clearly see his discomfort verging on anger…. I think the ‘Cool Britannia’ thing failed to represent the modern Britain the games had portrayed, one of a confident, compassionate, welcoming nation that isn’t the aggressive xenophobic lager swilling aggressor that we are so regularly portrayed as. Boyles more accurate interpretation set the tune and I agree with the writer, this just put us back in our little Englander box so favoured by the vociferous Sun reading minority. A bit of a shame but let’s not flail ourselves because of one article written with such moralistic self important bollocks that completely misses the point…. that there probably wasn’t meant to be one!

  86. Danny
    1:17 pm on 8/14/12

    The opening ceremony is totally different to the closing ceremony- the opening tells a story to the world about the country, the closing is and always has been just a big party and concert. It’s always been like this- who remembers the Athens and Beijing closing ceremonies? The only one that gets remembered is Sydney, which was very similar to London’s one in its tone, with performances from Kylie etc.

    The closing ceremony actually went down really well abroad, lots of recognisable faces, lots of London landmarks, and actually served to be a good antidote to the opening, which was wonderful, but a lot of foreigners thought was like a big in-joke that they weren’t really in on. I don’t understand comments complaining about the amount of celebrities- it was a concert, who did you expect to be there? Chas and Dave?

    Fair enough you didn’t like it (and there are bits that I didn’t really like) but it’s not fair to judge it on the same terms as the opening ceremony, closing ceremonies are designed for the athletes to enjoy and they seemed to be having fun so that’s good enough for me. To do a sociological deconstruction of a silly pop concert seems to me to miss the point a bit.

  87. 1:20 pm on 8/14/12

    Jason, it’s not censorship when it’s my blog: this is not your public space fella, it’s my house, my rules. Today I have had vicious personal attacks, true idiots ranting, massive inaccuracies and threats of violence. Fuck you, I’m not given them oxygen.

    And funnily enough, most of the comments I’ve trashed today (4 of them) actually strongly agreed with me but added homophobic language, or language that could be perceived as homophobic, against Kim Gavin himself. Jason, would you like me to have not ‘censored’ those? Someone (a nice guy actually) included with his comment Gavin’s personal email address on it, encouraging people to make their criticism direct. Jason, would you want that?

  88. 1:29 pm on 8/14/12

    Chas, I don’t yet understand your – or Emma’s – critique of my use of the phrase ‘rape culture’, especially since you seem to imply I’m perpetuating the very thing I was angry about. I definitely felt the negatives in the portrayal were broad, regressive and clumsy enough to be included in those notions of ‘victimhood’. I’ll have to think about it and get a clearer explanation from one of you elsewhere.

    As regards the ‘banality of evil’ phrase, this has definitely passed into common usage to the point that it is perfectly acceptable to use it, above and beyond a direct reference to the Holocaust, so I firmly disagree there. For a start, doesn’t the phrase itself have antecedent in ancient history; wasn’t it a reference even when Arendt used it? Secondly, Arendt simply didn’t cross my mind when I wrote it (what crossed my mind was Dr Harold Shipman) and I didn’t think of it at all, until you mentioned it.

  89. 1:54 pm on 8/14/12

    Kim Gavin is getting a lot of flak here, and I think he doesn’t deserve all of the bile and wrath – what I took from the ceremony is that there was a setlist of “content” and “commodity” that had been agreed in a committee waaaaaay before anyone was assigned with trying to piece it together to make it coherent/cohesive. There were record labels buying into it, fashion labels buying into it, car makers, starmakers, all vying for airtime to SELL SELL SELL at the expense of anything more cultured and artistic – and when there was room for it we get – GASP – A model of London! Because it’s, like, in London! And a phoenix! Rising from flames! Because there’s a bloody big flame there! GCSE spectacle making by Gavin and his board room of “let’s put the Spice Girls in taxis with flashy lights on… let’s put that Annie Lennox who has loads of memorable songs honestly on a Gilliamesque viking boat because it looks cool… Russell Brand’s people offered us half a mill to give him some exposure…” etc.

    Nah, Gavin (and David Arnold, let’s not let him off lightly) dropped the ball alright, but given the vested interests and machinations working/interfering with his vision I pity the poor sod.

  90. Seb
    2:30 pm on 8/14/12

    Hey – lets all just watch the opening ceremony again shall we? It’s still on the iPlayer.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01l4ldk/Olympic_Ceremonies_London_2012_Opening_Ceremony/

    I’m fairly sure that people will deem it much more memorable when they look back on this brilliant month.

    Seb

  91. Don Devine
    2:44 pm on 8/14/12

    UK just spent 22 billion dollars. Tourism is the second largest money generator in London.
    Do you want more money for arts , entertainment and culture? Yes of course you do. But here’s the point. The opening & closing ceremonies are the ultimate advertising machines.
    Its should never have been for you or your genre or any UK person.

    Mercifully the closing ceremony hit the I want to be come to the UK button. Not the look at my greenfields button and how clever i am.
    In the eyes of MOST of the world, the UK is best known and most wanted to visit, for the following:- THE QUEEN (Not picking her nails) CASTLES (They want to visit) STATELY HOMES (They have curiosity to see) GREENFIELDS (Boyle got that bit right) THEATRE ,LONDON LIFE, MUSEUMS, POP CULTURE. INNOVATION. POMP,PILLAGING, COLONIALISM.

    The opener missed most of these subjects. It was an epic miss in advertising terms. What would a foreign visitor have gleaned after the first 10 minutes? During the opener in the USA (Sorry number 1 $ generator for UK tourism) the commentator resorted to talking about when the GB had handened the country back to its people as each team came in to the stadium. Nearly half the countries the UK gave back !!!!

  92. 3:01 pm on 8/14/12

    I think I might have missed something but you hint about how great the opening ceremony was. Was it not exactly the same sort of pop concert? Granted the beginning telly tubby to industrial construction was great but the following pop romp was a bit thrown together. I actually felt PT.II “The Closing” was just a continuation of the end of PT.I. It had the redeeming feature of locking like the sports folk were dancing along to the gig but perhaps whilst standing for hours greasing up your gold coin you would end up dancing to anything.

    I don’t like the pop music of One Direction, Take That, Spice etc but I do think the crowded sports folk enjoyed it and at least John Lennon looked more alive than Paul Mccartney.

  93. Luke
    3:10 pm on 8/14/12

    The octopus was cool though at least eh

  94. Beth
    3:29 pm on 8/14/12

    Unfortunately having spoken to people I work with and friends, the general consensus is that they loved it. Said it represented GB well. A party for us lot, if you will….

    It was a sad day when I heard this…and it’s true, isn’t it? Most people in this country wouldn’t know class and style if it hit them around the head. The whole thing was just a Saturday night’s TV schedule on a grand scale. It should have been much more that that. Can Brits not handle any form of intellect? Is it too much for them to have to think about something for more than on nano-second.

    I’m moving to the coast to get away from all this nonsense.

    I think I also need to watch the opening ceremony again to restore my faith in humanity.

  95. Beth
    3:31 pm on 8/14/12

    Well said Don!

    This was far too cosy…the whole thing was a chance to increase tourism and therefore revenue. People will have forgotten all about Danny Boyle and be left with the same opinion that they had before…which is that we’re a very silly, shallow bunch.

  96. Beth
    3:45 pm on 8/14/12

    I misread your comments – probably should retract that last statement! ;-)

  97. stu
    4:14 pm on 8/14/12

    I just think it was a bit shit and will be a largely forgotten section of the games. Nothing dangerous.

  98. Roy
    4:49 pm on 8/14/12

    Oh dear. Such blistering outrage. Closing Ceremonies are always meant to be a colourful musicfest- nothing more, nothing less – not full of ‘content & meaning’. Sydney2000 anyone?

    By that definition, this had more ‘content’ than your average Closing Ceremony – but then I guess no one here has ever seen a Closing Ceremony before….

    I guess no one remembers all the Python refs from the show and various movies either

    As for the ‘laziness of the backing track ‘- I am told by a friend who was one of the volunteers that the athletes took far longer to come into the stadium than planned, so the backing track was hastily employed to cover. No chance to rehearse this beforehand – and especially no chance with a few thousand athletes not available. Certainly not pre-planned.

    This was a show that went in to the stadium on a Saturday night. The sets were put up overnight, lit and partly technically rehearsed in one afternoon. Unlike the Opening which had days and days in the stadium.

    On that basis it’s a miracle they pulled it off. Of course it won’t have been to everyone’s taste, but, really – lets not over analyze what was just meant to be a bit of fun. Looks like the ratings showed a lot of people enjoyed the fun. Unless the whole country sat there in high dudgeon?

  99. 4:52 pm on 8/14/12

    [...] that sums up how crap the closing ceremony was and luckily I found someone who has done just that. This article, by Brighton-based singer-songwriter Chris T-T is a great read and really hits the nail on the head [...]

  100. Maire Davies
    5:01 pm on 8/14/12

    I watched it on television, and in addition to agreeing with most of the more judicious comments above, as well as most of Chris’s original post, I thought it was just boring – ear-bashing, samey, and unoriginal. Musically there was almost no variation of tone – just loud. If it was supposed to be a symphony of British music, why not some different genres? Jazz? Folk? British stage musicals? It recalled some of the more uninspired episodes of Top of the Pops in the 70s and 80s. In this, it was totally unlike the opening ceremony; whatever you might have thought of Boyle and co’s ideas, the ceremony was always watchable and intriguing, and it did at least HAVE ideas, many of them good ones. (I’m getting to be a big fan of Frank Cottrell Boyce…). I, too, was appalled at the kettling image – did Gavin and his team have ANY idea what this looked like on TV? It would appear not. And I have to admit I was so pleased to see Indian dancing (great snub for Cameron) that the dodgy contrast with poor old Eric Idle passed me by. On the upside, the BBC continues its great service to those of us who want to remember how absorbing those two weeks of TV were, with its various Olympic websites and highlights. And I’m looking forward to seeing how C4 (also a public service broadcaster) showcases the Paralympics. We need to honour and look after the good stuff and protect it from predators …

  101. Jimmy J
    7:03 pm on 8/14/12

    Brilliant. Someone give this man a newspaper column or something.

  102. colin duncan
    7:41 pm on 8/14/12

    Calm down dear it’s only an olympics closing concert. It was shit but that is expected. Who cares, really?

  103. 8:32 pm on 8/14/12

    Totally agree with this. The opener, much to my cynical surprise was amazing. And as someone else said further up this thread, what I had expected at the opener was fed to me at the end. Really disappointing. Though I hear they are repeating the opener on BBC2? If the opener showed everything that made Britain “great”, then the closing showed what will mean in 2014 after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will end the union.

  104. @tomtomclubbb
    9:40 pm on 8/14/12

    Thank you. Thank you for expressing so well and with such beautifully focused anger everything the travesty of the closing ceremony did to nullify the euphoria of the prior 14 days and indeed the magnificent opening art.
    The most powerful observation that it was not a crime to put on something you personally didn’t like – but it was a crime to crash the dream.

  105. dan
    9:48 pm on 8/14/12

    The Olympics was the most beautiful moment of clarity. It demonstrated like a diamond scratching down your forehead that hard work, sacrifice and will reap rewards. It cleared away the fug of mediocrity and corruption this country has become for a brief time and showed us light beyond artificial success. It brought back into focus people being celebrated for their achievements. What a message for the country, for the children, what a tonic for a depressed nation. Is this a game changer? Has this wonderful occasion enlightened the masses? Whilst I am still pondering this question, the second the games finishes, even whist we are still smiling, that man betrays us. It is not ok.

  106. Chas
    1:31 am on 8/15/12

    Chris,

    The critique re: rape culture goes something along these lines – by making an argument against the objectification of women, you are railing against the lack of agency of those women. That is, you find it appalling that they become objects of violence and domination. Whilst that is always a valid argument, attributing that objectification to rape culture is only to objectify women again: this time by the very act of highlighting their subjection to male/violent domination. This takes away women’s agency as actors, and always subordinates them to an exterior, seemingly always-more powerful force. Which is, I say again, not to suggest that this isn’t part of the story. But it is one that simply reinforces, through its internal logic of binaries (male/female, violence/victim) what many feminists would argue is a false dichotomy. If you’re interested there is some really interesting work in academic literature on the issue of FGM and rape as a war crime – see Karen Engle’s work.

    On the ‘banality of evil’: I think you raise the interesting point that both Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard talk about, whether it is the society of the spectacle stripping meaning through representation, or the implosion of meaning through overuse and mediatisation, respectively. My understanding was that Arendt’s use was novel, and even taking the point you make about Harold Shipman, this I think only emphasizes its inappropriateness at the start of your piece, because you say you had thought about in relation to a serial killer, which you can’t really be saying about the closing ceremony (or at least I thought you were saying a lot of very different and interesting other things!).

    So, the interesting point we are left with is how the power of a phrase like the banality of the evil is lost over time; how it becomes banal itself. And this is not limited to that phrase – not fit for purpose, keep calm and carry on and all that completely banal language. Which, I think, would raise Orwell’s analysis of newspeak (though slightly distinct).

    Anyway, thanks for stimulating an interesting discussion.

  107. 8:30 am on 8/15/12

    The more I read this discussion, the more I can’t help but keep agreeing with Chris’s original post — and disagreeing with comments like ‘lets not over-analyze what was just meant to be a bit of fun’, above. By that same fallacious logic,, awful-stereotype-reinforcing, low-quality pulp-fodder like the ‘Twilight’ and ’50 Shades’ series are beyond criticism because they happen to entertain vast swathes of the population. By all means, let’s be entertained; but don’t let it be at the expense of a cheap shot or two at an ethnic minority, or yet another glorification of the old imperialist Winston Churchill.

  108. Adam Lawrence
    9:36 am on 8/15/12

    Eric Idle – no reference to the original? You didn’t see the Roman troops referencing the film? You didn’t see rollerskating nuns “blasphemously” flashing their knickers? You didn’t hear the first ever “shit” at the Holy of Holies? I don’t see how Idle could have gone further in this context.

  109. Terry Horrowitz
    10:22 am on 8/15/12

    Did I miss the Pearly kings and Queens? I think I spotted Morris Dancers. Such a pastiche of pap – clearly the wrong choice by organisers who had already displayed (and stubbornly defended) spectacularly naff artistic judgement in logo and mascot choice.

    A terrible ticketing choice as well. In fact in every aspect but the pure sports organisation and delivery, questions were raised that others more expert in those fields, like the armed forces, were obliged to answer.

    The Tim Berners-Lee moment from the opening was a perfect opportunity to hyperlink to Britain’s next fifty years. Otherwise, where was any legacy in this further stagger down memory lane, with Russell Brand and Norman Cook on a psychedelic octopus, FFS..?

    However, the Freddie Mercury virtual resurrection was as dangerous as it was magical; how it underlined that most of the live acts only possessed a fraction of his performance charisma and entertainment value of the late and great.

    A link from Berners-Lee to Sir Jonathan Ive, born less than ten miles away in Chingford – and the designer of all things Apple – would have forced the US networks to explain once again to their bemused viewers that it was some Brit that was in fact largely responsible for iconic US (made in China) products at the core of a US (made in Britain) culture.

    Opportunity lost. Again.

  110. Danny
    4:31 pm on 8/15/12

    Because the closing ceremony is always a party for the athletes- it was always going to be a huge concert full of music. OK, you don’t like the songs or the way they were presented but that doesn’t make it part of a racist and misogynist agenda. The athletes enjoyed it (as seen by lots of Tweets and interviews where they described it as the best ever). In fact, most teams said The Spice Girls was their favourite bit- how does that fit into this agenda? If the athletes are happy, I’m happy, the event is for them and not us.

  111. 7:38 pm on 8/15/12

    That was v clever. I loved it.

    The only bit I disagree about was George Michael – I thought having an openly gay man given solo stage time while the whole audience has rainbow colours projected on them was a wonderful message to the more repressive countries watching.

    Somewhat weakened when it was so disconnected, then they let him do his new single, which i) was crap and ii) noone knew iii) blatant commercialism. Oh Gavin

  112. Ian The Bearded Tortoise
    10:24 pm on 8/15/12

    It was pointless (covered in newspaper), weird (dancing nuns), crap (most of the performers), strange (SuperModels WTF?).

    In an industry of sport where drug taking is condemend, forbidden, punished why did we celebrate with a bunch of drug taking Has Beens, who if they lived by the same rules would not have been there for having a four year ban or life time ban. Russel Brand, George Michael, Liam Gallagher, Kate Moss………….

    The bright side of life? How fucking depressing. Who else did he want – a racist Alf Garnett, a pervy Benny Hill, Ooh Er Mrs how’s yer father what a load a carry on bollocks?

  113. 12:55 pm on 8/22/12

    [...] Duffy’s poem It really did feel like a different Britain for two weeks, right up until the closing ceremony, but you can’t be happy the whole time. I know – I live in [...]

  114. 11:57 am on 8/26/12

    [...] Duffy’s poem It really did feel like a different Britain for two weeks, right up until the closing ceremony, but you can’t be happy the whole time. I know – I live in Denmark. (Update, 26 August: [...]

  115. 10:59 pm on 9/30/12

    [...] I hate about 90’s (?!) Britain. I could write a whole post on this but someone saved me the time: http://christt.com/words/closingceremony/. To celebrate “A Symphony of British Music”, alongside One Direction on loop, we were treated [...]

  116. 12:46 pm on 12/20/12

    Great article. I will be going through some of these issues
    as well..

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