The Rio 2016 Olympics is currently underway, meaning that just about everyone is dealing with (suffering from?) a serious case of Olympic fever. There’s just something about a bunch of people from all over the world coming together to play sports that you’ve never heard of (like dressage) that gets people psyched! I, for one, am not as fully invested in the Olympics as others (certainly not as invested as “SNL’s” Leslie Jones) but I am generally excited to see what the host country does with their Opening and Closing ceremonies. It’s an opportunity to really put on a show, something that people will remember and talk about long after the games are over.
Rio’s Opening ceremony was very entertaining and fun, although perhaps a little too focused on a “save the environment” message. A noble pursuit to be sure, but a little too on the nose in its execution. Messages are ever-present in an Olympics ceremony, but I think they’re best received when done in a more artistic, almost metaphorical way. Showing legit maps of how the sea level will rise on the world’s coasts in the coming years is important and something that everyone should be concerned about, but maybe not the thing to make front and center in a presentation that is meant to be a celebration of Rio and everything that makes it great? Especially when the environmental issues that plague Rio are of key concern to all coming for the Olympics? I don’t know. That’s just me.
Anyway, all that fun got me thinking about previous Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies and what made them great. We all know what made Sochi’s 2014 ceremonies great: it was the giant, crying, animatronic bear. I mean, come on. Anything that’s giant, crying and animatronic will always capture the hearts of the public. It’s a known fact. Then there was the 2012 London Olympics, the focus of this post. The Opening Ceremony was full of great moments, from “Queen Elizabeth” jumping out of a helicopter James Bond-style, to everyone’s favorite goofball Mr. Bean (aka Rowan Atkinson) doing what he does best (aka being silly). It was fun and exciting and a perfect way to kick off the Olympics. And their Closing ceremony? Well it was just about perfect too.
The event was a true showcase of all of the amazing musical acts that have come out of London and England in general. It was truly a who’s who of superstars, with appearances from classic groups and performers like The Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, and oh, I don’t know, THE SPICE GIRLS, along with newer acts like Jessie J., Ed Sheeran and a semi-new group at the time called One Direction, I think? No clue what happened to those guys. Hope they ended up alright! There were also appearances from London’s comedy scene new (Russell Brand) and old (Eric Idle of Monty Python). It was like one huge, epic concert that seemed like it was never going to end, and I don’t think anyone really wanted it to. (Mostly because we all thought the world was going to end in December. Remember that? That was fun.) When it did finally end, it was with a blazing performance from The Who, the perfect way to cap off a perfect show.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Rio closes their Olympic ceremony. I hope they go the more fun and celebratory route as opposed to something more dire and serious. Because if they don’t, I might just watch the London one over again. It clearly wouldn’t be my first time.
What did you guys think of the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony? Have a favorite past Opening or Closing ceremony of you own? Still thinking about that crying, animatronic bear? Me too. Tell me about it in the comments. Now before you go back to watching water polo or fencing or whatever weird sport is on right now, always remember…