The Olympics are in Rio this year and the people of Rio seemed pissed about that, judging from the protests and that amazing, hilarious, inspiring, (prismatic even) footage of the multiple attempts at extinguishing the Olympic Torch.
Why they mad, u ask? More or less same reasons they were mad at the 2014 World Cup, (and why fools are constantly protesting at Olympics and World Cups and Super Bowls and National Conventions and pretty much any major Television Event in the modern era): Capitalism. To use a few more words: too much city money going to a big corporate spectacle that despite claims of boosting the local economy ends up overwhelmingly benefitting the rich above all else while, at best, displacing the poor, forcibly evicting residents of impoverished neighborhoods, etc. and, at worst, killing them, ratcheting up police aggression and violence against civilians, etc., etc.
So yeah, like I said, The same reasons people protest like, anything, anywhere: Global Cryptofascist Capitalism or whatever the academics be calling it these days. I'll be covering the Olympics this year. Tune into SB Nation twice a week for ur double dose of KOOL A.D.'s cogent, hard-hitting commentary on this Tragicomic Steroid Circus of Wonder and Agony we call The Olympics. I give y'all: THE KOOL A.D. OLYMPIC SPECTACULAR: A NOVELA IN LIKE SIX OR SEVEN ACTS DEPENDING ON HOW I FEEL LATER I GUESS.
What's interesting about Rio, in particular in terms of protest, is this is literally the second time this exact thing has happened within a matter of years. The same people were protesting the same economic shakeups, even caused by many of the same corporations (Coca-Cola, uh, Aramarc or whatever massive corporate catering service that was, who else? Probably Monsanto in some capacity, the list goes on) just two years ago, only instead of the Olympics it was FIFA's Copa Mundial. And last time there was even like 300 dudes from straight out the literal jungle, and as things went down, literal bows and arrows were being shot, now that's wild imagery, some powerful, cogent symbolic gesture of indigenous, anti-colonial dissent against Imperialism, feels uniquely Brazilian.
But where was I? Oh yeah, Harsh economic realities aside, even on a more abstract and metaphorical level, The Spectacle of Sport is often, if not always on some level, brutal, soul-crushing (and at times literally bone-crushing) shit, just watch that documentary on all those concussions in the NFL to see what I mean. In fact, the very concept of sport, has been theorized to work as a part and parcel of the state and cultural propaganda apparati that legitimize the global war machine and can effectively act as a physical extension of politics, much like war, if u want to get philosophical. It might sound crazy to the average dude on the skreet but it's basically common knowledge to nutty Post-Marxist Critical Theorist wackos like ur boy.
*Interesting aside-- this article comparing American Military strategy to American football while comparing other global military strategies to the more globally popular football (or soccer, as we insist on calling it on via whatever classic American Exceptionalist rhetorical hoops we need to jump thru) go hella hard.
But I digress. To zoom out a bit (or zoom further in, who knows/cares): this all makes something like the Olympics--the largest and most globally diverse athletic competition ever--a real heady trip to say the least. It's a measure of brawn, brain, resource (human and otherwise) and plain ol' fashioned physical resilience, a widely disseminated comparative study in which regions have the most rough and ready wilders on deck. It's a parade of force and intimidation, a celebration of the competition that is at the heart of the global capitalism that, if u want to be completely honest about things, is most likely the central abstract ideology responsible for destroying the earth and its people. But hey, at least it's not all out war, right? Or is it? I realize that what I just said was not actually, on most readings, or maybe any reading, a glowing conceptual review of Olympics as a whole I guess but not a complete condemnation either and that will have to do, seeing as how I'm only writing this for the money. And maybe the sport a lil bit too.
I gotta admit tho, end of the day I find that spectacle of athleticism wild interesting; learning the limits of the physicality of humanity, seeing the sheer magicality in these performances of some of the highest human ability, all that shit. Sport is art too. And art can reify OR protest its own strictures, and after all, are those strictures not all our own too?
While we're on the topic of spectacle, the pure, Debordian, Capital S, Spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies are a true mindfuck.
For some background, the London and the Beijing Opening Ceremonies of recent history were like sheer psychological terrorism, Relentless State Propaganda of the highest caliber, or maybe their styles (London's mildly psychedelic, kinda theatrical ruminations on class and China's bombastic, nigh postmodern, surgical shock and awe) were just novel to ur boy's largely American upbringing. Either way, it was quite the spectacle, and I fully mean that in the absolute most Debordian way possible, my dudes. This year's Opening Ceremony was directed by dude who directed City of God, what was his name? Fernando Meirelles, or else Kátia Lund, or maybe both, or neither, very Brazilian stuff. But I mean, it's hella crazy cause that movie is about favelas being destroyed by the police "war on drugs" and it's those very same favelas that are protesting the Olympics, right?
That's hella complicated, to put things mildly.
So without further ado, here's my play by play recap of the Opening Ceremony:
The thing opens on about a thousand people in sliver reflective bodysuits playing with reflective blankets in unison, classic modern cheerleading.
Shot of all the government officials, dignitaries, etc., Brazialian national anthem.
Or wait, a dude playing acoustic guitar.
Oh wait I think he's singing the national anthem?
In terms of brutal, slavetrading Colonialist European nations, the Portguese probably take the bronze. No wait, it goes Spain for the bronze, France for the silver and England for the gold. But Portugal is up there.
Or whatever, everybody's equally fucked?
More modern dance antics with some kind of fiber optic aspects now with some real native, indigenous type stuff goin off, this is wild beautiful?
Back to the ceremony.
Pirate type galleon stuff, moved on up to Circus level.
Now about a 1000 people dressed as slaves while the announcer lets us know that slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888.
The slaves are dancing.
Now some "merchants"
Announcer's like "Then some more immigrants came."
Seems a bit rushed.
USA halfway abolished slavery in 1863 and then "all the way" in 1865 but then again, there are more black people in the notoriously disproportionately black U.S. prison system today then there were in the Antebellum South, so what's really good, actually?
And I mean, as I write this, there's dudes dancing around in an elaborate prison set on TV.
The set turns into a wall and then the wall falls apart.
Now there's a dude in a plane.
Alberto Santos Dumas, first dude to fly a plane or something, Brazilian dude, apparently beat the Wright Bros to the punch. I'd believe that.
Ay while we're on the subject, shout out the first black astronaut, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, Cuban dude.
Gisele Bundchen comes out to Girl from Ipanema played by Brazil's illest dude in a fedora.
Now it's the "favelas" segment, looks like a throwback Missy Elliot set.
I think there was a white lady rapping? Or was she light? Reggaeton vibes. My fault ur boy high.
Now some more old school type music and a dude rapping in Portuguese, kinda like Wyclef/Pitbull vibes.
Now a wild young girl rapping.
The Announcer's like: "Edge, tension, conflict... Brazilian culture."
Another announcer attempts to gently mention the protests: "I'd like to address divide as something we have to overcome."
Now it's like a rave I guess?
"Here is to diversity!"
"Time to start the party."
Kinda like that classic white rock and roll meets disco cabaret of global American style TV, almost forgot this was like a sporting event for a second. New Year's vibes. Oh snap, Rio de Janeiro, River of January. New Years. It's all adding up.
Damn, I'm hella stoned.
Cut to Michael Phelps in the green room, stoned too.
Dude, am I Michael Phelps?
So that's it right, it's over? Basically just like City of God.
Oh wait, it's still going on?
Oh snap, the bilingual climate change PSA, whoa, what is this a U2 concert? Naw just playing, save the earth y'all.
Dude looking at a weed plant. Relatable.
Now it's The Parade of Nations.
- Afghanistan roll thru with that loud.
- Germany rolling deep too, very little applause tho.
- Argentina lookin wild preppy, on they phones, snapchattin
4. Bangladesh got the Tiger Woods of Bangladeshi golf out here, he's lookin at the gold.
5. Barbados slide thru pretty hyphy.
6. They got one of the airport bombers' brothers is in the Belgium entourage that's wild European.
7. Bermuda slide thru in Bermuda shorts, no joke
8. Dog these giant flower-covered tricycles with the country's names on it are hella funny to the kid.
9. Brunei roll up, Sultan of Brunei got 5,000 whips, damn.
10. Bhutan. Bhutanese archers be going hard, no lie.
11. Why Chile look like Texas?
12. China. Definitely scooping some gold. Ping pong, weight-lifting, shooting, all the tightest ones, really.
13. Comoros came thru with the entire population of Comoros.
14. Congo. Oldest harpoon in the world was found in the Congo, historically of note.
15. Democratic Republic of Congo slide thru on they West Virginia.
16. CUBA BABY.
Cuba got some boxing gold this year., Ramirez and maybe Cruz and Pero too on at least silver.
Anyway look, I got a few more of these things, alright, tune in twice a week, I'm reporting on the Olympics. Who y'all got for Dressage?