Vancouver Olympic Closing Ceremonies: “Sorry About That”

The Winter Olympic Closing Ceremonies were such an example of new “I believe” bravado rippling across the Canadian landscape and yet a wonderful opportunity missed. Sorry, USA and the rest of the World – humble, self-effacing, meek and reliable Canadians will for the time being become more like uhhh … ugly Wall Street Banksters. Sure there were spots of the old self-effacement as VANOC’s Jim Furlong was made to read the closing statement in more broken French than a full year of ex-Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s English speeches. Now the two solitudes can get on with real communication.

And there was a brilliant touch of the witty, self-deprecating Canadian humor as the Olympic Torch with the missing 4th link was comically restored with Olympian Katrina LeMay-Done finally able to light the fire and torch for an hour more. But after that, the closing ceremonies went downhill faster than the Austrian ski team [“sorry about that” Ostreich, aber diese ist der neu Kanada].

First, there was the come back home gang – Canadians who have been successful in New York or Hollywood saying why in full projected Punch humor they retained some nostalgia for Canada. It was like a mini Travel Commercial which incidentally the Supernatural BC government is doing on TV in Microsoft fashion – i.e. copying the form and style of the real-deal California travel commercials. Martin Short, like the failed Olympic torch link, is rumored to have come up short and failed to show – and this viewer can guess why.

Next, the Vanoc team cannot be blamed for what Sochi Russia did – “a mixed pastiche of 1912 era and contemporary Russia as if the Communist hole in Russian history has still not been filled”. But Canadians then quickly did their best to imitate bad American Super Bowl entertainment – you know the kind where more time is spent doing scene changes then in the entertainers actually entertaining. Even the Vancouver Sun noting in its review the endless stream of lip-synching , one song stand of Canadian entertainers – as if quantity and no hurt feelings took precedence over a real show.

This party would vote for bringing the Maritime and Quebec fiddlers back from the Opening Ceremonies and have them lead the athletes in a series of simple riels, line and square dances that I am willing to bet every one of the athletes could could do with their eyes closed given their physical conditioning and sense of enthusiasm. Instead we got treated to Michael Buble and the RCMP Hooter girls.
Not just bad, but gosh awful – no wonder NBC decided to terminate their coverage of the Closing Ceremonies prematurely. They certainly know when the Night Show is not clicking.

And so as the Vancouver Sun noted – there were many questions to be asked about this Closing Ceremony given a)the quality of the Opening Ceremonies, b)the template for good closing ceremonies provided by Calgary and the 1988 Games, and c)the wonderful times, goodwill of the people and visitors plus the drama of the Olympians themselves. One could have taken from the many volunteers and fans at the events their impressions of the best moments of the games. Taken some of the dramatic finishes and shots of the Olympians, projected them up on the screen and then asked the Olympian and their volunteer/fan admirers to take an encore bow and/or exchange best wishes [with translator help as required].

So let me repeat the questions raised by the Vancouver Sun –

As fireworks burst off the roof of BC Place, several questions are posed by the casual observer; Why did Cirque de Soleil never make an appearance at these Olympic Games? Why was the music so milquetoast? Why did guys like Jim Carry and Mike Myers not show up, especially when the latter is a stone hockey freak?

Amen. And I am far from alone. Chats with people find that many agree with what Calgary Herald’s Licia Corbella has to say in her review:

Beautiful Olympics, Vulgar Closing Ceremony
…After the cauldron was extinguished, however, so too was virtually any taste or decorum. The theme of the night was to poke fun at Canadian cliches, all done by Australian production director, David Atkins. It didn’t work. Instead of having the world laugh with us, it left them laughing at us and judging from comments on my blog and other sites, left most Canadians cringing….Ending the evening with K-os, a rap group with breakdancers, singing the indecipherable Eye Know Something, was so discordant I turned to my husband and said, “They can’t actually be ending with this. This is a joke, right?”

Sadly, it was no joke, but the closing ceremony was. And the joke was on us.

The Games were so good, the Canadian Olympian performances were so empowering, and the goodwill of the World was to be had – why sell so short on such petty self-deprecation rather than showing off how good the games were, how well Canadians and the world performed, and how Canadians can have a good time dancing and partying? Cheesh, just when Canada Owns the Golden Podium and scoffs a good part of its national inferiority complex, one has to say – “Sorry About That” for the Closing Ceremonies. Typical Canadian, Eh?

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