This Is For Everyone
It can't have failed to escape your attention that there's a big bunch of sport happening in London.
Aside from Danny Boyle's gloriously silly opening ceremony – more of which later – the Olympics has seen, for the first time since World War II, and the first time outside of war, London run obviously and openly under the juristiction of a 'foreign' body (The Bondesque LOCOG).
An event where the corporate sponsers paid £800,000,000. And the British Public paid £12,000,000,000. Or, if you want to think of it another way, the companies that so fiercely control the events have only contributed 6% of the total cost of the event. The official restaurant is a fucking McDonalds. The official credit card is Visa.
The police and the state have become an enforcement arm of Coca Cola and McDonalds. Words are under lockdown and quarantine.
Here's a list of words you cannot currently use : 2012, Olympics, Two Thousand And Twelve, London, Summer Games, Twenty Twelve,Spirit In Motion, Olympiad, Silver Games, Palayampian, Higher Faster Stronger, Cituis Altius Fortius, 2012 Gold, London Medals, Olympian Sponsors, Olympix.
The London Paralympics, which celebrates the physical achievement of those with impairments, is sponsored by ATOS. ATOS : a company that has made its name and fortune from sickness. A company that currently administers the provision of the deeply flawed Sickness Assessments that rule that a man is fit to work when he dies of an incurable heart condition weeks later. Irony is a very British condition. According to reports, a Doctor was ordered by Atos to deny 88% of applications for disability benefit.
In the meantime, a court rules that the Army can simply put missles anywhere it likes. Your tower block might very well have several million pounds of dangerous weaponry feet above your bed. Your home can become a target. The military have the power to fire weaponry at any object in the air, for any reason, and the resultant damage of this – a downed plane in central London for example – is merely collateral damage. More important that this destroys homes than, say, an empty stadium.
Every promise made – more homes, more jobs, more prosperity – is a lie. Whilst the message is that Britain is open for business, at the same time, the target is to generate £1,000,000,000 more trade from commercial operations and new investment. But the Games cost£12,000,000,000 to run. In what world would an investment 12 times more than the return make sense? That the games cost more than the cuts to the Welfare budget. More than Vodafone's tax evasion.
For now, Britain is run for the convenience of companies. Whilst millions rearrange their lives, their holidays, their television, and yes, their work – either by cramming onto “shortformed” (i.e. insanely crowded and incompetently-managed) trains, stadiums sit in rows of empty seats, thousands of tickets unused, whilst the people that make this country work sit in the Not At All Cheap Seats.
On Friday, meanwhile, the world was watching the Stadium. 82% of the UK's viewers alone. I must admit to being utterly bored of the vast majority of opening ceremonies, From China's joyless marching, to 1984's American jingo, an opening ceremony is often boring, po-face hectoring, and utterly humourless. Not tonight.
With Danny Boyle in charge, the Ceremony was glorious. Unless of course, you are Aidan Burley. A 33 year old, angry man of privilege who seems to think Britain is populated solely by white, rich, businessmen and their wives, who listen to The Rolling Stones.
Odious, and offensive, Conservative MP Aidan Burley meanwhile, tells the world that at the end of this ceremony that it is “Multicultural Leftie Crap”.
“Too many tweets make a twat”, said Cameron, years ago. Those words will come back to haunt him.
Four days later, and David Cameron still hasn't sacked him. If he were an employee, I dare say he'd be fired. If I was his boss, I'd've fired him by now for “Gross misconduct.”
Whatever happens, or doesn't, Boyle's show brought me to a damp eye more than one. The eloquent narrative, that tied together not only what Britain is, and what being British, celebrated the beautiful things about Britain. The things that made us great.
From the opening moments that transformed this green and pleasant land to an industrial revolution, from the dancing Yellow Submarines to the poignant appearance of Tim Berners Lee, it captured the thin line between absurdity and invention, between risk and reflection, that is, in my mind, quintessentially British. I often feel uneasy at the thought of a flag, of The Red, The White, The Blue, and here, at last, I felt that Boyle took the flag back from the idiots and the small-minded. Here, I went from being curious to being proud of being British. We could do this, I imagine.
Tim Berners-Lee meanwhile, tweeted from the stage. “This Is For Everyone.” The ceremony didn't belong to anyone, but belonged to everyone.
“This is Tim Berners-Lee” said NBC. “No, we don't know who he is either. Maybe you could Google it.” Oh, Tim-Berners Lee. The guy who invented the Internet. And gave it away free to the world. Fuck you, NBC. Even Trevor Nelson looked smart next to your inanities. The BBC should have simply paid Brian Blessed to BOOM RANDOM TWEETS ACROSS THE AIRWAVES!
And whilst Boyles show clearly portrayed Camerons lot as the Evil Voldemort attacking British Nurses, not for one second would the Tory Mission to PRIVATISE ALL THE THINGS! Stop or even reflect for a second on the damage wreaked by their acts of mass destruction. To this Government, a few dead people is just an externality. Something that happens to other people.
Not even 900 dancing nurses in a CND logo. Not even a huge, illuminated NHS broadcast over the world. What a socialist idea, that poor people have the right to stay healthy.
Let us not even forget that, in a world where people are murdered for loving someone of the same gender, Danny Boyle broadcast to billions – including repressive regimes – the first lesbian kiss they had ever seen.
Then again, army of Mary Poppins fighting an inflatable Voldemort was genius. I was half expecting Battersea Power Station to fly to the moon whilst Sinclair C5's drove in synchronised formation. Or giant inflatable televisions ascending to Heaven.
Sadly, the ending I hoped for, was all the living Doctors together to hand the flame in a human chain, with Matt Smith at the end, lighting it at the end.
Were I Danny Boyle, I'd be on the Skol at 10pm, knowing the knighthood is in the bag. About the only thing it didn't have was The Queen turning round with a Corgi in her lap, saying “Mr. Bond, we've been expecting you.”
This ceremony was all these things and more. It took back from The Tories and The Daily Mail. You do not define what being British is. Britain, all of us, not just you, defines what being British is. This multicultural leftie crap is what made Britain Great. Britain is made of all creatures, Great and Small. Made of left, right, black, white, straight, gay, brilliant and bugnuts. All these things together make Britain what it is. Not the boring, tired homogenous, bland, world of straight white families that only listen to Take That and only like Fish and Chips. All these things – compassion, peace, invention, humour – these are the values that make Britain Great. And for all of you who thought those values are representative of a “£27million Labour Party Broadcast”, answer me this : what is wrong with compassion? What is evil about invention? What is sick about allowing the poor people to be healthy? What is inherently wrong with invention and humour?
For the ceremony was about about an optimists view of the world : we can still be great. We can still make, though our actions, our very own green and pleasant land. This is for everyone. For everyone, not just the few.