Friday, February 4, 2022
Lamest. Torch lighting. Ever.
The Chinese get another shot at the Olympics and choke the opening.
- Welcome back to the Olympics! We start with some fluff about how all the parents of athletes won't be able to go to China to see their children compete because fans aren't allowed. And why is that? Well, NBC isn't going to talk about the fact that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was criminally negligent in their handling of the coronavirus, which resulted in millions of deaths around the world. That's no way to start a party. But hey! There will be lots of parent-child celebrations via Zoom! So let’s just ignore that whole mass-manslaughter thing and have some fun!
- Delta, Toyota, Samsung, and Xfinity are proud sponsors of the US Olympic Team and only the US Olympic Team. They are definitely not in any way shape or form sponsors of the Olympics themselves, because that's what their nervous PR departments have told them to say in order to make it through the next two weeks without being accused of supporting genocide.
- We start out at the Birds Nest, where Mike Tirico invites in Andy Browne of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum and Jing Tsu, a Yale professor who studies Chinese politics, to provide some software Chinese propaganda. Andy lays out the all the charges of genocide against China, then waves them off by saying China disputes them. They’re innocent! Just like everybody else! Jing says that China was optimistic in the 2008 games, but that optimism went away for these Olympics. Wonder if that has anything to do with the whole manslaughter thing.
- The ceremonies start with a video featuring the start of the Chinese new year and a countdown from 24 signifying the number of periods the Chinese calendar is divided into. It's very pretty, but kind of boring. The announcers cut in at number 16 to tell us what's going on. Finally the countdown ends and we enter the empty stadium. Four hundred performers hold up giant green light sabers as they stand on a giant LED stadium floor. A crowd of people would be impressed by this. Too bad there isn't one.
- Fireworks illuminate the sky and the city, affording all of those locked in their homes by the CCP a chance to see one tiny part of the Olympics. Thomas Bach, corrupt president of the IOC, and Xi Jinping, the corrupt president of China, wave to no one in the stadium. I take it back. There are some people in the upper deck. The Party can’t declare victory unless someone is there to see it.
- On the stadium floor, two lines of Chinese citizens line up to pass a Chinese flag from one end of the stadium to the other. This is meant to show the diversity of China's population and how we celebrate all the people of Chi- not so fast, Uyghurs!
- Now the Chinese national anthem, the "March of the Volunteers." Shouldn't that be the "March of the Volun-told"?
- A river video projected on giant column flows down from the roof to the floor of the stadium. Then a giant block of "ice" rises up from the floor and a Pink Floyd laser-light show gets projected onto it showing all of the previous winter games. When the lasers have finished their show, an ice Olympic rings rise up from the block. Behind it a door opens up and the athletes start to arrive in the stadium. Welcome to the machine, athletes!
- Back-to-back in the parade of nations are Taiwan and Hong Kong. I'm sorry, I mean Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong. Taiwan has been forced to use Taipei as a name by the IOC because they're corrupt. They don't want us to say the word Taiwan. Or Hong Kong. Or Tibet. Just pretend I didn’t say those.
- How did the Winter Olympics even end up in Beijing? Short answer: corruption! Originally there were three candidates, Oslo, Norway, Beijing, and Almaty, Kazakhstan. Everyone thought Oslo was a shoe-in, but it turns out they weren't corrupt enough. The IOC demanded too many favors from Norway's politicians, and they weren't having that, so they withdrew their bid. That meant the choice came down to Almaty versus Beijing, and if Norway wasn't corrupt enough, of the two remaining cities, who would we assume is the more corrupt? Welcome to China!
- Denmark has never won a Winter Olympic gold medal. They’ve only won one Winter Olympic medal at all (silver in 1998). How is that possible? Next door neighbor Netherlands has 82 total medals in speed skating alone. Step it up, Denmark!
- Before Team USA comes out, let's have The Rock gives us a pep talk. “I dare you,” he says, is the phrase that has motivated many athletes into greatness. Well sure, but has it motivated as many people as the triple dog dare? This speech is so corny. Who writes this pap? But listen to The Rock deliver it. He's amazing. I'm ready to run through a wall. He's going to be president someday. You heard it here first!
- Team USA comes in, waves to the cameras, and everybody celebrates. Yay!
- The lone athlete from American Samoa, Nathan Crumpton, shows up shirtless and oiled up. He'll be competing in skeleton, hopefully with at least a helmet.
- Mike Tirico lets us know that Cyprus has a map of their country on their flag. He's delighted by this. Vexillologists hate that.
- All the athletes are entering from the sideline at what would be the 50-yard line, then they walk across the field on a virtual bridge. On either side of the bridge is what looks like a giant hole showing scenery of China. On TV it looks really cool. If you were an athlete there, you wouldn't even notice what it was. It would be interesting if someone just ran out on to it. Actually, no. They'd probably get shot.
- Here comes China and that gives Andy and Jing some more airtime to spout Chinese propaganda. I'll spare you the details.
- Now that all the nations are in, some virtual snowflakes fall down around the stadium. There's a limited crowd, but I said something similar about Tokyo's virtual displays at their ceremonies: if you just paid a thousand bucks for an Opening Ceremony ticket, wouldn't you be upset if you could only see something on TV?
- All the little snowflakes merge into one big snowflake, just as all nations will eventually merge into China. Wait, what?
- It's time for Thomas Bach to accept his briefcase full of cash! Bach declares China a winter sport country. At the Olympic village, he says, there will be no discrimination whatsoever. Ha ha ha! Try giving a Uyghur prayer in the courtyard, Thomas. He's bringing the United Nations into the Olympics in his speech. I don't remember ever hearing him appeal to authority before. Is he feeling some pressure? Maybe another briefcase full of cash will soothe his anxiety. Xi will provide! Xi Jinping declares the Game open and once again fireworks burst over the stadium.
- A line of people marches across the stadium as the LED floor shows people all over the world responding to the pandemic. Jing says the pandemic has made it difficult for China to get their message out the way they'd like. Yes, the main problem in unleashing a global virus outbreak isn't all those people who died, it's really that it's bad for the PR team. Andy says, "While Western countries may be boycotting these Olympics over human rights issues, China styles itself as a champion of the developing world." Sounds like Bach isn't the only guy getting a briefcase full of cash.
- China trots out “Imagine” again. Ick. The only thing worse than this song is the Olympic anthem.
- Speaking of which, the goose-stepping Chinese army raises the Olympic flag to the Olympic anthem, a song that no one on Earth other than this choir knows. Couldn't Bach throw one of those briefcases full of cash over to someone who knows how to write a catchy tune? A stadium full of athletes stands awkwardly around waiting for this trainwreck to end.
- Video time! Little kids on ice skates fall down a lot. I'm betting soon this video will progress to older kids who know what they're doing, and then to Olympic athletes celebrating. Huh. I was wrong. An actual surprise!
- More kids dancing around on the stadium floor. Each one has an illuminated dove on a stick. Nothing says world peace like a bird impaled on a spike. They end by forming a giant heart. Awwwwww.
- Here comes the flame, do-do-do-do. Will they top the Barcelona lighting? No. There's no reason to ask that question anymore. It can't be topped. So what will they do? Please don't let them set a Uyghur on fire.
- They pass the flame from former Olympian to former Olympian all the way around the stadium. Maybe Peng Shuai will be in here! Ha ha ha ha no. Mike says there isn't a traditional cauldron. Instead they're going to set this decorative snowflake on fire. What? They're going to burn snow? The last two people to touch the torch include one person who is a Uyghur. See, China's not practicing genocide! They know lots of Uyghurs! Some of their best friends are Uyghurs!
- They don't burn snow. Instead, the last two torch holders ride a little elevator up about 10 feet and place the torch in the middle of the big snowflake and… that's it. I mean, really, that's it? They didn't even light anything. There's more ceremony involved when Jeff Probst snuffs out someone's torch on Survivor. Instead of trying to best Barcelona, Beijing when the other way by being the worst. Boom! More fireworks explode, attempting to distract you from the lamest Olympic torch lighting ever.
- And it's over. Savannah Guthrie says we're trying to digest what we just saw. There's nothing to digest, Savannah. It was all shiny lights and no substance. Team Rockwood member Sandy says it was all fake and was unimpressed. It really was unimpressive. Just read about the 2008 Opening Ceremonies. Or watch them. Any single element of the 2008 OC was better than any single element of the 2022 OC. Seriously, the 2008 games had 2,008 drummers on the field at the same time! The 2022 games placed a candle in a candle holder. I guess mass-manslaughter and repression really takes up more personnel hours than you think. Maybe next time, China.
That's all for day one! Come back tomorrow and we'll see who gets oppressed! Oh right. They don't do that in China. They're all innocent! See you tomorrow!
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