The price of the extravaganza was outdone only by its bad taste, which was worse that what propaganda experts churn out for their totalitarian rulers. Britishness at the Games of the XXX Olympiad was close to pitiful. Let’s face it: the Empire is gone. The only testimony that would have deserved to be memorialized is […]
The price of the extravaganza was outdone only by its bad taste, which was worse that what propaganda experts churn out for their totalitarian rulers.
Britishness at the Games of the XXX Olympiad was close to pitiful. Let’s face it: the Empire is gone. The only testimony that would have deserved to be memorialized is the latest (not yet over) recession. Indeed, with London as the capital of financial speculations—the only lucrative business in what used to be a great Britain—Danny Boyle should have projected real-time images of hedge fund traders. Caliban’s line (from Shakespeare’s The Tempest) would have worked like a charm: “Be not afear’d, the isle is full of noises.” But Boyle preferred 10,000 medical workers jumping on children’s hospital beds, and the parade of Victorian factory workers in a landscape of smokestacks that replaced live sheep and cows. (The show promised: We will let you die of natural causes. No slaughter. Poor animals!—to get old in England with a medical service that will not let you die. For everyone, of course.)
Kitsch is the expression of a mentality obvious in any prosperous society. Nothing is too much. Check out the dwarves in German gardens, the “paintings of light,” flags, sports mascots, and all the pageantry of meaningless ceremonials: The Europrix, the Academy Awards, the Cannes film Festival. Even solemn occasions, such as the Queen’s Address to Parliament (“Hats off strangers!”), and even the Inauguration of the President of the United States are reduced to kitsch. Kitsch negates the authentic. It opposes simplicity and advances mediocrity as an aesthetic qualifier. Danny Boyle’s production contained well more clichés and stereotypes than did Slumdog Millionaire. He is getting better at making aesthetic bad taste the “food” of millions who try to lose weight drinking their corn syrup sweetened Coke cold. “Wouldn’t that mean negative calories?”
In the grandiose ceremony, there were some authentic moments—the Queen who could not hide her boredom and discomfort, and Mr. Bean—and quite a number of visual effects. The message became the medium (as I like to repeat, but McLuhan is not around to challenge me). Indeed, the NBC of the age of media monopoly shares with Danny Boyle the inability to realize that these times are different. They proved what Abraham Moles ascertained long ago in his text on kitsch: Everything can be made into kitsch. (Lady Gaga was left out, but the only Sir from the Beatles took care of the obligatory karaoke number with gusto.)
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