Belated Reflections on the Olympic Opening Ceremony

It’s been a week since the Olympics have started, and I’m finally getting my butt in gear to comment on a startling realization.

I’m sure that everybody was very impressed with all of the displays and demonstrations. A few days into the games, there have been some murmurs in the media about some misbehaviours that occurred during the ceremony, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to discuss all the glory of the spectacle.

The cultural segment of the ceremony was structured around China’s four great inventions: gunpowder, paper, the movable type printer, and the compass. In between the invention presentations, other movements celebrated China’s various religions (Daoism, Buddhism), activities (clay drums, tai chi), and industries (The Silk Road). Each one was presented in an overwhelming way, with 3 to 4 thousand presenters in many of the acts. Whenever there were massive numbers of presenters, they all moved in perfect unison, demonstrating their extreme discipline and someone’s obviously excellent leadership. Remember the movable type presentation?

As I was watching a sea of people dancing and moving together, I realized that the ceremony was in fact a celebration of China’s genuine resource: a massive population…all moving in unison, because someone said so. I’m not old enough to remember other Olympic opening ceremonies with a critical eye. Maybe all opening ceremonies were like China’s. It was just a little eye-opening for me.

On a totally separate point, parts of the ceremony had all these people in the stadium dressed in ethnic costumes. They were dressed to represent the 52 Chinese ethnic groups. That’s fine, but why the hell was there one dressed in Korean clothes? Equipped with a Jjangu and everything too. That pissed me off. I feel as though history will rewrite itself as countries with larger populations and more political clout massage the content in history books around the world. I’m afraid that one day, Koreans will no longer own Dok Do, and we will be Chinese descendants. What an awful fate!

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