Fug The Olympics: The Opening Ceremony Theatrics


I need to clarify up front: Jessica and I love the Olympics. Love. LOVE. We love the cheese, we love the sappy NBC packages designed to weave our heartstrings into a quilt of tears, we love the actual sports, we love the flags, we love the anthems, we love Wry Bob Costas, we love being super frustrated by all the commentating… All of it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it, right? And the opening ceremony in London was, in a word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Which is olde-timey musical speak for “WTF.”

If I were in charge — and what I’m about to say is among the many reasons why I am NOT in charge — I would’ve been like, “Look, we’re not going to beat Beijing. That shit was intense. So let’s just have a big ol’ rock concert and then blow off some fireworks every fifteen minutes.” Or maybe I would’ve done an homage to my favorite things about growing up over there, like all those murdery royals, pubs, castles, Abbeys, murdery royals buried in various ‘minsters next to their sworn mortal enemies because the Brits want drama even in the afterlife, and of course admirably flavored potato crisps (my interpretive dance for “Prawn Cocktail” flavor would have been majestic). Maybe all of the above, with Joan Collins coming in on a barge. Sniffle. Oh, what might have been…

[Photos: Getty]

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Comments (201):

  1. dino
    0

    Kenneth Branagh was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the father of the Industrial Revolution.

    • Trace
      0

      Yes, I’m really hoping they were kidding when they said he was supposed to be Abraham Lincoln…

      • Catnip
        0

        I agree – PLEASE tell me the Lincoln comment was a joke?! And – Tim Berners-Lee, who INVENTED the world wide web and REFUSED TO TAKE ANY MONEY FOR IT, famously saying ‘This is for everyone’? Show a little appreciation guys! And before you post on the US athletes’ outfits, google Frank Spencer Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

        • bex
          0

          You guys, it IS a website of jokes.

        • SofiaTC
          0

          To be really honest (and apparently really stupid) Kenneth Branagh looked like Abe Lincoln to me. I had no idea who Isambard Kingdom Brunel was until I googled him just now. I’m not from the UK or the US, he wasn’t a very prominent figure in my history lessons I guess. His name looked familiar, but I couldn’t really remember what he did. So when the top-hat appeared my mind just went straight to Lincoln.

        • SofiaTC
          0

          I have to add I didn’t actually watch that part of the ceremony.

  2. Julia
    0

    So, then, you were the idiots NBC’s patronizing commentary was meant for?

    Terribly disappointed in this piece. Not funny: fake stupid is never amusing (as you know perfectly well, given the Mr. Bean slam, which was funny because it’s true). I suppose you don’t know who Tim Berners-Lee is, either (sad, since he’s the person to whom you owe your entire career).

    I have to say: you make Bob Costas, Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer look good. I was pretty sure that was impossible.

    • Christian
      0

      Calm down.

      • Heather
        0

        It was a joke, yes. It may not have been a good one, but it was a joke. I was tired when I wrote it. What can you do?? Post fail, I guess.

        • Brook
          0

          I just have to stick up for the Fug Girls here–I’m willing to bet most ppl don’t know what Tim Berners-Lee actually invented, so let’s tone down our ire. Let’s not disparage like we know All That is Worth Knowing–it’s childish and silly and ruins the generally pleasant undertone this comments section has always had.

    • Travis
      0

      It’s really not all that serious, as I think this post attests. Loved the post, loved/hated the opening ceremony, love the fug girls.

      The first villain is a (very mannish) Queen of Hearts!

    • Jessica
      0

      Wow. Chill.

    • junaitatres
      0

      Wow, Julia. That was quite the overreaction. I hope you have a better rest of the day.

      For the record, I loved the opening ceremony (most of it anyway) AND this post. Don’t let the negativity get you down, Heather!

    • Anna Lawrence
      0

      This.

    • Kate
      0

      Wow. Julia, go have a cuppa and calm down. Brunel is not a household name in the U.S., Abraham Lincoln is. It’s hardly shocking that Americans thoughts go to our best known top-hatted man, even if we know he is not the person being represented. Cripes, it was a joke.

      • SugarMagnolia
        0

        I do not understand the hate for this post. Heather is well within her rights to point out the bizarre and non-sensical aspects of the opening ceremonies. Even if you loved the opening ceremonies, you have to admit there were some things that were weird (giant baby? Texting while moving through the decades? Bicycle doves?) and it’s okay to have a sense of humour about those things. I found this recap hilarious and wish we could all remove the sticks from our bums.

        • terri
          0

          I, for one, do not WISH to remove my bum stick. It keeps me aloft.

          –GiantCreepyQueeno’Hearts

  3. lavonspants
    0

    Olympic fromage + swimmers’ abs + worchester sauce (or roast chicken or thai spareribs…) crisps = AWESOMENESS.

    Excellent O.C. coverage, ladies (esp compared to SOME people *coughNBCcough*)!!

  4. Kris
    0

    I know some people out there didn’t care for this opening ceremony -but I never though you two would be among them. I personally loved it for being so perfectly quirky and British.

    • Sop
      0

      Agreed. I loved it loved it loved it and was ready to be very cynical. The flying angel dove bikes and the multi-petal cauldron were the best bits of a great, funny, weird and surprising show. And the music was very good too.

  5. CARLY
    0

    touche, ladies! thanks for starting my monday with so many laughs!

  6. Trace
    0

    The hospital beds represent the NHS – you know, that healthcare system that happens to be free for everyone? Because people in the UK think that free healthcare is actually a good thing and the government here are trying to make some very bad changes to it! I thought Danny Boyle had some great subversive touches to the Opening Ceremony – perhaps Americans wouldn’t get it but I’m not sure the rest of the world got half the glitzy pointless stuff that went on during the Atlanta opening ceremony!

    • Heather
      0

      I knew they did, but I just thought that was a weird choice (without knowing the current political context). And it wasn’t even THAT so much as the fact that it turned into an ode to children’s lit via… nightmares. Just… it was weird, really. I’m not sure how else to say that I thought it was all full of weird choices.

      • Gina
        0

        The connection was that J.M Barrie (author of Peter Pan), bequeathed the profits of Peter Pan to Great Ormand Street Children’s Hospital, which also had a tribute in that section.

        I enjoyed the opening ceremonies, but think this was helped by getting the BBC feed the day after. It had no missing bits, or adverts, and the commentators took there job of informing the audience of the proceedings seriously.

      • Rambutan
        0

        Hi. People in Britain are immensely proud of the NHS. The government are currently trying to do damage to it and everyone here is very angry about it.

        I personally (from the UK) was moved to tears during this section.

        It was about protecting the vulnerable (in this case, children), and also about the imagination. The nightmare characters weren’t meant to scare the shit out of people they’re from stories we all know and love it was about enjoying the fear of a good bedtime story.

        Characters included: Voldemort, the queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland, the Child Catcher from Chitti Chitti Bang Bang, Cruela de Ville, Mary Poppins, and Peter Pan (referenced not seen).

        The connection was children, and as Gina says J.M.Barrie’s connection with the children’s hospital.

        All the dancers (nurses etc) were volunteers who in real life actually work for the NHS. They were actual nurses.

    • Kate
      +1

      It’s not free. You pay for it in taxes.

      • Julie
        0

        Yep, National Insurance. Most sensible tax ever!

      • Shona
        0

        Yep, we know we do, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
        Worth it, worth it, worth it.

      • Ames
        0

        Dear Kate,

        The few pounds we contribute to the NHS per year via our taxes means that we receive all healthcare free at the point of delivery for life. It means that rich or poor, we are treated equally once we present to a healthcare provider. As a Doctor working in the NHS, I am more than aware of it’s problems, and the difficulty in providing everyone with a service that means that at our times of greatest need, we do not need to add financial worries into the equation.

        I am proud to work in a system which means that when I am managing a sick patient, my mind doesn’t stray from their clinical need to whether or not their credit card can stretch to the cost of healthcare.

        So I’m not really sure what point you’re comment is trying to make.

  7. gav
    0

    Everyone has an opinion, I guess, personally I loved it! It was quirky, and although I was confused at points, I was never bored – it was definitely a spectacle & I don’t think pulling it apart really did it much justice, especially when the most touching part, the 7/7 tribute, got pulled from the US broadcast.

    You definitely highlighted one thing for me though, the Queen looked super-grouchy the entire way through!

  8. Trace
    0

    Give her a break – she’s 86 and it was probably past her bedtime!

  9. megs283
    0

    The dukes are high! Hilarious recap. I know you don’t fug (or fab) political figures, but I loved Michelle Obama’s green, black, and silver top that she wore on Saturday.

    Can’t wait for more!

  10. Pattypuff
    0

    I loved. Loved. LOVED the opening ceremony — well, at least until they got to that silly TV houses/texting part. It EASILY rivaled Beijing in spectacle. The logistics of it all blew me away. And Mr. Bean was wonderful. So there. ?;^)

    • steen
      0

      I completely agree. I LOVED the opening ceremony. I actually squealed with delight when I saw the pig from Pink Floyd floating over the city, and I HATE Pink Floyd. It’s just so British though and through–utterly surreal and it all worked, down to James BOnd escorting the Queen to the ceremony and the Union Jack parachutes AND the snippets of Sex Pistols and the shout out to the NHS and I could go on and on. The only part that was weak was the texting section. That part should have been reworked a bit.

      I think what really marred it though was Matt Lauer. Mein Gott. That man is just awful at shutting up and letting events unfold. His insistence on talking over every aspect really ruined a lot of the viewing experience for me and I have been searching the Internet high and low for a complete version of the ceremony without NBC’s endless yammering.

  11. Dee
    0

    Pic 13 is a commemoration of the 7/7 attacks – which NBC didn’t show!
    I adored the opening ceremony – i love love love the olympics!

    • niña
      0

      Also, isn’t the “creepy doll” on pics 23 and 24 the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland?

      • pem
        0

        Yep. Which links to the dancing nurses, who are all from Great Ormond St Hospital, which is part funded through royalties from Lewis Carrol’s books (royalties granted in perpetuity as an act of charity). I appreciate why THIS might have gone over some heads, as it’s a pretty obscure link!

        • Heather
          0

          oh, ugh, sorry — I will take that one out; I had no idea.

        • JanetP
          0

          Not Lewis Carroll’s books, but JM Barrie’s Peter Pan (and others). NBC knew this, surprisingly.

        • Anna Lawrence
          0

          No – James Barrie’s Peter Pan, which Rowling read from.

        • steen
          0

          Not your fault Heather. Matt Lauer was probably talking about something completely unrelated to the actual action at hand, or they cut to one of a thousand commercials so actual, crucial info was not provided.

      • Heather
        0

        IS IT? I couldn’t tell; I was just so horrified by it.

  12. Jules
    0

    Wow. I am struggling to see the humour in this! I wondered if I was alone, but some of the other comments seem to suggest a similar feeling.

    I can’t quite tell if that Abraham Lincoln thing a joke? Kenneth Branagh was playing Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer. The ode to hospitals was actually an ode to our National Health Service. Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet (and made it available to everyone). The commentary must have been atrocious in the US. Which is disappointing.

    Sheesh. I thought you were better than this!

    • Heather
      0

      I actually forgot about the Internet homage and was just using that slide to joke about how the Queen looked. I just remembered where it came wrong — I thought it was pinned to the music thing which seemed so weird to me. Will fix!

  13. pem
    0

    I had kind of hoped that GFY was joking about not recognising Isambard Brunel (Abe Lincoln? I mean, Why TF would the Brits have him in their ceremony?) and the homage to Berners-Lee. Was I wrong?

  14. Christian
    0

    I liked how Danny Boyle knew there was no way he could top the Beijing ceremony, so he went the “When in doubt, freak ‘em out” route.

    • Eliza Bennett
      0

      Right?

      • Julie
        0

        I loved this too – it was brilliantly bonkers. Though I didn’t get all of it (the Tube?!) and some moments were defo WTF, I just loved it all, especially the music montage – I was dancing around the living room!

        And I really liked the surreal doves on bikes.

  15. Kate
    0

    If you can’t make fun of the ridiculousness, bombast and spectacle that is every Opening Ceremony, ever, what can you make fun of? Also, I didn’t get to see this because NBC won’t let you stream it without buying a cable package(!1!). So *I* thought it was funny.

    • niña
      0

      Sure, but usually, when you make fun of something there should be no doubt about the fact that you understand the thing you are mocking, especially if it involves cultural references.

      Otherwise it’s not funny, just problematic.

      • Kate
        0

        While I understand what you’re saying, I don’t agree. First of all, I am pretty sure that the Fug Girls do understand the references, at least most of them. Second, sometimes cultural misunderstandings ARE funny.

        • niña
          0

          Yes, they understand MOST of them, I agree. But, for the ones they don’t, the jokes fall flat (or turn out to be insensitive, like in the case of the aforementioned tribute to the 7/7 attacks).

          While I agree that cultural misunderstandings can be funny (especially if you are involved in one personally) I also think that, depending on the context and the cultures involved (i.e. an hegemonic culture making fun of a non-hegemonic culture’s tradition because they perceive it as “weird”, which btw, is NOT at all the case here) they can also be deeply problematic and offensive.

        • Kate
          0

          As you said, that’s really not what’s happening here.

      • Rambutan
        0

        Agreed.

  16. Billie
    0

    I, personally, thought this commentary was hilarious. The show was OK, some parts neat, some parts ‘WTF’. The jist I got from the whole House Party scene was that Britain invented the internet? Huh? Al Gore must be pissed.

    I just feel there could’ve been a much better way to represent the amazing music that came out of the country .. rather than using some stupid ‘boy meets girl’ scene.

  17. Sandra
    0

    irony, n.

    …A figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used; usually taking the form of sarcasm or ridicule in which laudatory expressions are…

    Heather learned how growing up in Britain.

  18. Erin
    0

    I, too, love the cheese and pomp of the Olympics, but I found the opening ceremony so confusing — the first part didn’t seem to follow any chronological timeline, and then the house party business completely lost me. As for the literary villains, Voldemort is creepy, but I didn’t think a modern work (while certainly a classic tale) should have been lumped in with the others. The torch was pretty neat, though. As bad as it was, I was grateful for the commentary from NBC to help navigate some of the sequences. And yes, Ringo was shunned.

    Do you ladies plan to comment on the nations’ uniforms (starting with the US)? I want Sweden’s!

  19. ella
    0

    Oh, well, you missed the point! Especially on the NHS…the nurses and stuff were about public health, so I suppose that’s bound to go over the head of our American cousins.

  20. michelle
    0

    I agree on one thing for sure- Rowan Atkinson, bring us some more Black Adder!

  21. Travis
    0

    I’m afraid, Heather, you have created an international incident.

    • Kat
      0

      Ha, well said. But I have to say, if anyone doubts that Heather was writing in irony (and not ignorance), then they haven’t been reading this blog very long.

  22. Eliza Bennett
    0

    The entire Industrial Revolution/peasantry and sheep section, moving smoothly into Poppinses and Zombie Dolls was too weird for words. But I liked some of the Internet Inventor homage!

  23. D
    0

    The ‘hare krishna’ piece was a dance performed in memoriam of those that passed away and couldn’t attend the ceremony. Stills don’t really do it justice and it seems a bit weird to snark on it.

    • fitz
      0

      I think it was supposed to refer to the London 7/7 bombings which occurred the day after London was awarded the Olympic Games. The City went from euphoria to tragedy in 24 hours, and they have always been closely linked.

    • Emma
      0

      I agree. I watched the Olympics Opening ceremony as a proud British/Northern Irish expat out here in Japan (hurrah for BBC streaming!) and I thought the whole tribute to the 7/7 terrorist attack victims was extremely moving. The ceremony itself was clever, subtle (I mean, the links between JM Barrie and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, the NHS and children’s literature) and human. The fact that the “performers” were real patients and medical staff made me even prouder.

      I don’t think it’s the Fug Girls fault though if they didn’t know. I kinda feel a bit of self hatred for using the Daily Mail as a source but it seems that NBC was disrespectful in their coverage on this aspect.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2180179/NBC-Olympic-coverage-Bob-Costas-joins-outrage-7-7-terrorist-attacks-tribute-edited-Opening-Ceremony.html

      • Bea
        0

        “I don’t think it’s the Fug Girls fault though if they didn’t know.”

        Come on, this is the Internet. You can get your facts straight in five seconds. That’s not an excuse.

        • bex
          0

          But what were they supposed to look up here?
          Google search term: “I don’t recall why they had those orange outfits- what were they for?”
          As they did not air it stateside, there is no reason why we would know that segment was a tribute to the 7/7 victims, and for this, we should be shaming NBC, not the Fug Girls.

  24. thereset
    0

    I had no idea fug nation takes things so seriously! My word, people.

  25. Amy
    0

    Of course the Lincoln comment was a joke people! This whole commentary hit right on the nose of what I was thinking as well. Maybe the TV coverage didn’t do the ceremony justice, but I thought the whole concept was god-awful and poorly executed. I can’t imagine how anyone sitting in the stadium understood half of the things going on since I’m sure much of it wasn’t visible from every seat. Why should a live show depend so much on graphics and video montages – the people at the show should be able to watch the action not the video montors!

    • Trace
      0

      From what I gather the American TV coverage was what didn’t do the ceremony justice. The BBC covered it brilliantly and my friends who were there or actually performing in the ceremony itself said it was wonderful.

      • Amy
        0

        I just talked to someone who was there as well and she said it was fantastic in person, so I am glad!

  26. Tina
    0

    Sometimes it is really obvious that y’all live in LA.

  27. Peeps
    0

    Look, everyone’s entitled to their own opinions and taking the pi** is after all part of this blog’s appeal!

    Me, I LOVED the ceremony and that’s possibly because it was SO British (which I am), full of little funny references that made me laugh, nearly cry, stare in awe and generally made me fall in love with my country a little bit more. It was an awesome mix of fun, crazy, touching, beautiful, personal and a very different vibe to the Bejing one. It was so us as a country and really, what more can you say or want?

    • Shona
      0

      I loved it too (British)
      It was funny and witty and intelligent.
      I watched on the HD channel and it had no commentary, I didn’t realise there was supposed to be one until I flicked to BBC 1 at one point. I was a bit confused in parts but in the end I think it was the better experience as I had to figure it out by myself.
      I did keep wondering why they kept flashing up the commentators names…

  28. Edith
    0

    I loved the opening ceremony, especially the celebrations of English kids’ lit, the history of British pop music, and the QE2 Bond bit. To me, it felt like they were reminding us that British culture is part of the whole world’s culture – we all loved these books, this music, this queen, this super spy. It was reminding us we’re all Angophiles.

    Please tell me you’re highlighting bits of the parade of nations. A friend texted me: Did the German costume designer think he was working on the Winter Games? To which I replied: I believe the German designer thought he was designing packaging for maxipads.

    • steen
      0

      The German outfits were a complete embarrassment. Pink for girls and blue for men? Really?

  29. bex
    0

    Have some of your commentators been reading this blog for Serious Fashion Commentary? Guys, the Fug Girls’ JOB is to joke- while you think the Ceremonies went over their heads, in reality, their jokes are flying right over yours. Relax.

    On that note, I was audibly laughing at my desk, PERFECT coverage of that amazing fuckery.

  30. Chris
    0

    Jeez people let up! I thought this was a light-hearted post on the OC. Get a sense of humor!

  31. Hester
    0

    The homage to the National Health Service was also inspired by the fact that it was founded in 1948, the same year that the Olympics were last held in London. And I’ve heard that the 7 young athletes being nominated by 7 older Olympians is a tribute to the 7/7 bombings, which had an enormous emotional impact on the UK, coming the day after the announcement about the 2012 Games was made.

    It’s v funny to see it through non-Brit eyes, though. Danny Boyle hit every national heart string going – from Nimrod, via miners, the NHS, Bradley Wiggins, Mary Poppins, Rowan Atkinson, Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, the weather, the Windrush, punk, Jerusalem, maypoles, little children signing AND singing… I can die a happy woman, knowing that someone, somewhere, suggested to the Queen that she could pretend to parachute from a helicopter. And that she said yes.

    • Edith
      0

      Wow – I didn’t know about the seven Olympians / seven young athletes and the 7/7 connection. Thanks for pointing that out; I thought it was lovely anyway, but now it is lovely and significant.

  32. Lynne
    0

    Wow. People really take the Opening Ceremony seriously, I guess. Regardless of who stages them, I gotta say, they’re always disjointed and bizarre. Always. But I kind of thought it was supposed to celebrate the wonderful contributions the host country has made to the world. Isn’t it?

    I understand what they were going for with honouring guy who invented the internet, hospital workers, people who died of black lung disease during the Industrial Revolution. But I did NOT understand the choices here. Seemed a weird place for it, frankly.

    Your post was hilarious, ladies. Well done!

    • Bea
      0

      But that’s exactly what they did: they just didn’t pretend that their country was the most fabulous ever, had invented ALL the things or that every ‘invention’ or historical event was spectacular and had happened with rainbows and roses. What a refreshing change from ‘we’re the best and let me shove it in your face and it doesn’t matter if we reinvent history a bit’.

  33. strah
    0

    I love this slideshow and commentary – hilarious as usual.

    In my opinion, the ceremony seemed to lack continuity – to put it mildly.

  34. ak
    0

    I really enjoyed this post, but I do disagree about the opening ceremony. I thought it was a clever, subversive and surprising peace of social history that was entertaining in how trippy it was (everything but the texting and the house skit…I also hated that, but I’m going to accept it as a way to integrate “Frankie Says Relax” into the festivities). You can argue that an opening ceremony isn’t supposed to be about subversive social history….but pretty much every Olympic spectacle is about selling people the postcard of who you are (Beijing was all about: we’re here, you should have some respectful fear.) And for the British, “we’re weird, quirky, and post-imperial, and even if we DID invade all your countries and wreck the English countryside with smog, we gave you the NHS, children’s literature, and the Kinks, so there, and have some birds on bikes” is not such a terrible message. So in summary: I enjoyed both your commentary and the festivities.

  35. Heather
    0

    Hi guys!

    Well, sorry for the firestorm. Foreign readers, NBC edited out a bunch of the show, including the 7/7 tribute, so I deleted that slide because we just didn’t know. Sorry about that. Yes, the Lincoln thing was a joke, even if it was a dumb/poorly written one. The Internet part, I forgot about (sorry). The ode to the National Health Service, I still think was a strange choice — maybe more the WAY they did it than the fact of it, perhaps… Basically, I think the whole thing was strange (or, the bits we saw over here) and I stand by that, and I say that as someone who grew up over there, is a citizen, and really wanted London to kick this thing’s ass Beijing-style. But it was… weird. Sometimes good weird, sometimes funny weird, sometimes cool weird, but mostly… weird. I was kind of operating thusly: I watched it semi-casually, occasionally I had to pause and get up and deal with the beans and would forget what was happening exactly, we had bad commentary on it, and sometimes visually it was just off-putting and I was covering my eyes. So I was trying not to Google too much of it, in the hope of gauging how much of what they did really stuck with me. Not much, apparently.

    Anyway, thanks for reading.

    • Sajorina
      0

      @GFY Heather, Fug Nation should be thanking you for putting this thing together, even though it has nothing to do with fashion! I commend & thank you for showing me most of what I missed before the flying doves, which is when I started watching, with a sprinkle of humor, confusion & disbelief thrown in! I really enjoyed it and you should be proud of your hard work! I’m proud of you!!! ♥

  36. Emmaleigh
    0

    Um, where are the pics of Prince Harry? I give this a B- because of no Prince Harry pics. Add some Prince Harry and it’s A++++.

  37. Sonya
    0

    I agree with you ladies, I didn’t care for the Opening Ceremonies. The James Bond bit was cute, and I appreciated the literary references, but the house party bit was silly. I was live tweeting and facebooking with a lot of friends spread throughout the country and world and our sentiments were the same, we thought it was a jumbled mess overall. I know British history and culture and pop culture and I get the humor and maybe it was poorly edited by NBC (which wouldn’t surprise me as I always dislike their Olympics coverage). No offense to you Brits at all!

    I second the need for a uniform/parade of nations post – for example the Czech Republic and those fine-looking Danes.

  38. Jessica
    0

    Prince Harry is en route later today, ditto Parade of Nations.

  39. Flag Hagz
    0

    Love this. We wrote about flaghats, flaghair, and general flag garb in the Parade of Nations on our flag blog.
    http://flaghagz.tumblr.com/post/28265537359/paradeofnations

  40. amylola
    0

    I think Danny Boyle titled this: “And now for something completely different.” And I loved it – all British cheekiness.

  41. Piglet the Pooh
    0

    Regarding the superiority of Blackadder to Mr. Bean, I have just one thing to say:

    Word.

  42. SofiaTC
    0

    This is turning into a weird US vs. UK thing, but for people from other countries this was also very very weird. A lot of people I talked to missed most of the references to things like the NHS, which is obvious since it is such a British thing. And you guys are all very right to be proud of it (if you are, if not, carry on) but don’t expect every single person on the planet to recognize it.

    • Bea
      0

      I’m not from the UK although I’m from Europe. My whole family loved the ceremony and didn’t miss the reference. Also we had good commentary, which certainly helped immensely. Just saying to show that this isn’t a US vs UK thing or that everybody wherever they’re from felt the same. I’m sure some Americans loved it and some British people hated it and that it went over the heads of some people while others got it.

      • SofiaTC
        0

        That´s exactly what I was trying to say :). But you put it way more eloquently.

  43. Dinsdale
    0

    The villain you don’t recognize is the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I wonder if Boyle was being subversive using the songs “God Save the Queen,” “London Calling,” and “Going Underground” during the opening film and ceremonies?

    As for your post here, oh god I love it so much. I wish I had followed your twitter feed during the broadcast. It was alternately baffling, goofy, pompous, and boring…and freakin’ LONG! I fell asleep before the torch was lit!

  44. Elliot
    0

    I find it both predictable and amusing that American’s don’t seem to have understood much of the opening ceremony. How uniquely British of Danny Boyle to stage something that’s pretty much the world’s biggest inside joke. It’s got almost universal praise from the notoriously-cynical press on this side of the pond.

    The ode to hospitals has mostly been interpreted as Mr Boyle saying “I’m sorry Mitt Romney, I can’t hear you over the sound of our free healthcare.”

    Also, K Branagh’s ‘long speech’ was from the Tempest. That’s Shakespeare people! Come on!

    • Heather
      0

      I certainly hope the whole point WASN’T, “Oh, let’s do one giant inside joke nobody else will get.”

      • Elliot
        0

        I don’t think he set out with that intention, I just think that the nature of our sense of humour is, at times, difficult for others to understand. And we quite enjoy laughing at ourselves.

    • Sandra
      0

      Oh for fuck sake! Boyle has been planning this spectacle for years! He didn’t just shoe-horn in some bit about health care half an hour before they went live, just to tweak Romney. (Though I would bow to his mad skillz if he were able to do such a thing).

      I think the cultural bit of the opening festivities is overdone at every Olympics. A lot of the athletes don’t even get to participate in the ceremonies because it takes so damn long and they are in competition the next day. Yeah, the ancient Olympics were a festival of culture and art as well as sport, but until they bust out the mixed doubles sculpture competition, I’d rather see more focus on the athletes.

      • Kati
        0

        I agree, the one thing that struck me after watching the opening ceremony this year was the lack of focus on the athletes. In general with the openings, not just London.. I love the crazy shows each host country puts together for our viewing pleasure, but idk.. it’s maybe too much?

        Also, where was Spice Girls in that insane party/music sequence?! I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for a Spice Girls track!

  45. Maria T.
    0

    Yowza commenters – be kind or the Fug Girls might not be so generous with their posts. I agreed 100% on the opening ceremony. My husband and I watched and really, really tried hard to love it, but it just never “got there” for us. At about the giant baby (How funny was Matt Lauer: “I don’t know whether that’s cute or creepy?”), we threw in the towel and watched the Beijing ceremony on our Roku box.

    Fug Girls, you are awesome. Please don’t ever change. Still laughing at the Queen “having some notes” (I read it in Tim Gunn’s voice). And that sequence was all messed up too – it was daylight in the pre-filmed bit but dark in the live, so the transition was so weird. And WTF with the statue of Winston Churchill??

    I second the previous poster who’d love to see a post on the uniforms for the different countries (loved the boots – wellies? – on the Czech team). And can you PLEASE post about the USA women’s gymnastic uniforms? I don’t know whether it was the “doing my laundry” hair (with SCRUNCHIES!) or the “too much information” shiny leotards. But I was so distracted.

  46. Bella
    0

    I could only watch some of it. Really bizarro! What was up with the creepy BIG BABY?

  47. Anna Lawrence
    0

    What an extraordinarily mean-spirited review. Almost everyone else was swept up in the opening ceremony and loved every minute of it. Anything that celebrates the NHS, children’s literature, Britpop and multiculturalism is okay by me. And who better to light the torch than the athletes of tomorrow?

    • Heather
      0

      It was intended as mean-spirited. A lot of it was a WTF for me. Maybe not WHAT they celebrated, but HOW they did it.

  48. Jules
    0

    I feel bad for having left a negative comment here as I am a huge fug fan and I do understand that it was a bit of a mad spectacle! Basically the problem is that a lot of Brits felt a real affinity with much of the ceremony. It was bonkers and eccentric (and at times problematic) but it kind of summed up how many of us feel about this weird old country. So we take the criticism personally, which is stupid. Most of us have spent years moaning about how much the Olympics is costing, only to jump on the bandwagon as soon as it kicks off.

    Also your bit about texting was hilarious. I spent a few months in the US in the mid 2000s and everyone thought I was weird for sending text messages so much.

    • Elliot
      0

      Totally agree with this. I’m a bit disappointed to see this reaction from our American friends given how warmly us self-deprecating Brits have embraced it. If there was one fault with Danny Boyle’s work it would be that the ceremony was aimed almost entirely at the British audience, seemingly at the expense of others’ enjoyment. Not that I’m complaining about a slightly Brit-centric Games. I’m loving them.

      • Jessica
        0

        “If there was one fault with Danny Boyle’s work it would be that the ceremony was aimed almost entirely at the British audience, seemingly at the expense of others’ enjoyment. ” But that does explain why the rest of us kind of thought it was sort of WTF-y right?

        • SugarMagnolia
          0

          Yes, it is really a shame if Danny Boyle meant the opening ceremonies as a giant British inside joke (which, considering some of the references that are not easily recalled from grade school history, he probably did). That smacks of cultural elitism and singularity in an event that should be celebrating the multiculturalism of the Olympic Games.

        • Charlotte
          0

          Pretty sure if all opening ceremonies could only incorporate things the whole world learned in history at school they’d be pretty stuck for material! How much does your average American grade-schooler know about Brazilian history?? Better start brushing up before the Rio Games in 2016…

    • Sajorina
      0

      I’m sorry that so many people came to the comments to attack the FugGirls because of their take on the ceremony, which was weird for the rest of the world, when this blog is called “GoFugYourself”! Did you think it was going to be all serious and lauding? I don’t think so… If that’s what you want to read, then don’t come here and read their take on things! And, please, GET OVER YOURSELVES, Heather & Jessica don’t mean to insult anybody! They are two of the most caring, warm, fun, funny and appreciative people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet!

  49. Joyce
    0

    Wonderful re-cap!! “We Have Notes” So funny!! You and Jessica are a very funny bloggers btw and I almost spit out my coffee while reading this awesome post. The Fug Girls are my favorite bloggers for sure. I really like London and I liked the idea of seeing England’s (London’s?) history unfold. It was beautiful. But I was WTFing sometimes, playing with my Kindle Fire sometimes, checking what else was on sometimes, yawning sometimes…sooo The Opening Ceremony was a bit boring at times. But I LOVED the Queen/James Bond bit. Really hated the mutant massive villain puppet part, was freaked out by the big baby and didn’t really understand what was going on at times…BUT nobody got hurt throughout the whole spectacular spectacular (wrong director). OMG. Great Britain’s costume/clothes for the athletes had to be the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. I almost cried because the outfits were so ugly to me. Go USA Go GB!

  50. lilywise
    0

    I love love love the Olympics, too. I didn’t love this Opening Ceremony. I didn’t hate it either — I did think that “weird” was the best overall word. Not always weird in a bad way, just strange. After all, lots of great British story-telling has been weird in a wonderful way, like Alice in Wonderland to Monty Python to Harry Potter. It’s interesting to see the reactions to this post, which I thought was very funny and in keeping with the GFY site. I appreciated hearing some of the British readers explain just how very British the entire OC was, because frankly not all of it translated across the pond.

    And NBC is just unforgivable. Cutting out the 7/7 tribute?? Uninformed commentary?? Ugh. I hate them more every Olympiad.

    • Sonya
      0

      Me too! When is NBC’s Olympics coverage contract up!?! The coverage is terrible, more sports, LESS interviews and such. If I want to learn about the athletes I will Google them while I am watching!

  51. Chasmosaur
    0

    Okay, as an American who likes history and has many, many English friends (a side effect of growing up between DC and NYC)…

    I got a lot (but not all) of the references without commentary. But I, too, thought the Opening Ceremonies were a bit jumbled. So please stop jumping down Heather and Jessica’s respective throats. Visually, it matched Beijing. The smelted rings with the rainfall of fireworks and the cauldron were amazing. (I deeply love that cauldron, and the way it represents each participant country.) Narratively – it just wasn’t as organized. But that was kind of the point, really, so I can live with it. (See – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lorraine-justice-phd/london-olympics-opening-ceremony_b_1719428.html)

    My biggest criticism? Why was it an army of Mary Poppinses? Yes, she was an English nanny…created by an Australian author. I would rather have seen an army of Paddington Bears with a fusillade of marmalade pots joining forces with Peter Rabbits and Squirrel Nutkins, but hey, to each his own.

    Also – my husband and I are both IT professionals. We both know who Tim Berners-Lee is (and I actually once had the privilege to attend a lunch with him at a conference once – probably one of the nicest, most gracious men on the planet). You want to salute TB-L? Go for it. But he deserved SOOOOO much better. And the acknowledgement that he developed the WWW at CERN. In Switzerland. With a Belgian. Yes, the WWW is such an exclusively British contribution to the world. If Chicago ever gets an Olympics, I sincerely hope there’s a segment in the opening ceremonies celebrating the University of Wisconsin for developing DNS (i.e. – the thing that lets you type in “gofugyourself.com” instead of an IP address).

    If you wanted to celebrate the larger cultural contribution of British music (which is massive – the soundtrack was awesome and I need to download that Arctic Monkeys cover of “Come Together” this week, and yes, I realize British is not the same as English), did it require the narrative of two kids hooking up after seeing each other on the Tube? Why not just a celebration of British music?

    I liked the idea of the iconic British TV and movie images – but they went by so fast, you didn’t have time to appreciate what was being referenced. (Not to mention the heinous NBC coverage which really didn’t let you see them much at all.)

    I get what Boyle was doing – I’m not simply too stupid to get it. But I am not English enough to appreciate it in its’ entirety. So the argument really should be – is the Olympics Opening Ceremony supposed to be for the host country, or for the world?

    And for the record, I think Beckham’s contribution to the torch relay was brilliant. As a member of the bid committee, it would have invited so much criticism had he been in the stadium with the flame, even with his associations with English athletics. But he was still visual without hogging the final spotlight – touche to him for a very skillful compromise.

    And Brava to the Queen for playing along. I can only assume Daniel Craig had the time of his life with that.

  52. Mo
    0

    Well, call me an insensitive, culturally stupid American. I was WTFing at most of the ceremony and wondered why Branaugh was in costume as Charles Dickens and reciting Shakespeare (so points to me for at least recognizing that). Although I would have preferred Alan Rickman, maybe points off again.

    The only 2 highlights for me were Daniel Craig and Becks. So I guess you’d have to add shallow to my adjectives.

    • Amber
      0

      There are times when I wish this site had a “like” button for comments. Because I like this. :-)

  53. Amber
    0

    So my comment disappeared.
    I’ll try again:
    Fug Girls (Heather in particular): you have nothing to apologize for. This website is, and always has been, based on your and Jessica’s opinions. It’s extremely childish to lash out in the comments if you don’t agree. (Disagreeing and/or explaining something is different)
    I enjoyed the opening ceremonies, but thought it was very strange. Sometimes good strange and sometimes WTF strange. The nightmare scenes and the creepy big baby were especially bizarre.
    I also wish more people understood sarcasm and/or joking, especially on this site. Anyone who’s ever read GFY knows that Heather is a dual citizen and therefore would understand that Abe Lincoln would not be part of the OC in London. Even I know that, and I’m just a dumb American.
    Keep up the good work, GFY. I am especially looking forward to the team outfits post!

  54. Suzie
    0

    I enjoyed most of the opening ceremonies, but some parts were weird… I get that maybe we outsiders just don’t get it, but isn’t the point of the Olympics to come together, that there shouldn’t be any outsiders? Plus, most OC are disjointed and bizarre, like Lynne said, and that is what makes it awesome! As Frankie says, Relax! Can’t wait to talk about the parade of countries and uniforms! Let the games begin!

  55. Momo
    0

    Growing up in Canada (and therefore exposed to a lot more British culture than an average American would be) I got most of the references and thoroughly enjoyed it as a wonderfully bizarre spectacle. I will say that the Opening Ceremony was created with a specific sense of humor, tone, and with specific historical/social/cultural references, which means some people will love it and others will be baffled and annoyed. A more generic (Woohoo! Fireworks! Big Ben! The Royals!) ceremony would probably have pleased a greater portion of the audience, but since I was one of the few that thought it was awesome, I’m glad Danny Boyle did it this way.

  56. Suzie
    0

    Also, I have friends really into Brit pop music, and they mentioned musicians missing from the house/Internet/text bit: T-Rex, Spice Girls, Elton John, few other ones I don’t remember. Anyone else a little dissapointed that some great British music was missing from that?

    And I knew Kenneth Branagh was the father of the Industrial Age (although his name escaped me at the time), but the beard and stove pipe hat were bad costume choices, even if that was popular back then by all men.

    • Jessica
      0

      The Ladies of Spice are going to be in the Closing Ceremonies.

      • Edith
        0

        There was a commercial break in the US coverage in the late 1970s-early ’80s part, so maybe someone British can tell me whether there was any inclusion of punk rock? Because you can’t really tell the story of British music without the Sex Pistols. (I tend to think it WAS there, but NBC thought that was the right part to cut out, because they’re idiots, but I’d like confirmation)….

        And I don’t think it felt like a series of in-jokes, but rather a celebration of All Things British, much of which I got, and the rest of which was still enjoyable. Though, please, somebody, what was the Big Baby about? Big Baby was pretty disconcerting, so I need context…

    • Charlotte
      0

      Google Brunel and then consider how it could have been another costume choice! They could hardly change it just because Americans might misunderstand…

  57. Kristina
    0

    Rich Juzwiak (sp?) called the texting/music thing “social media bukake” and I have yet to find anything more appropriate than that description.

  58. Wilma
    0

    I hated the Beijing ceremony with the fire of a thousand suns. It degraded human beings to cogwheels. It’s not good watching something and hoping that none of the participants mess up because you don’t know what’s going to happen to them. One of my best friends fled China because his father was involved with the student protests of 1989. He does not know what has happened to his father. When people praise the Beijing ceremony I cringe inside.
    I loved the London ceremony. It was warm, human, quirky and intelligent. The people putting it on had fun and looked proud of themselves. As a Dutch woman I still got most of the references. The lighting of the flame gave me goosebumps and made me teary. Out of many one indeed. Afterwards I felt like a citizen of the world. Well done Danny Boyle.

    • Edith
      0

      THIS. Yes. I felt like it did slovenly job celebrating humanity while celebrating Britain, and the torch, in particular, was a wonderful symbol of the spirit of the games. Beijing was awe-inspiring – nforum a good way. In the Orwellian and horrible way. For me, those games are all about the little girl who sang – but wasn’t cute enough to be in the ceremony, so they had a more perfect little girl lip-syncing to her vocals. That, and 12-year-old gymnasts with forged papers who’d been raised by strangers in preparation for those games….

  59. Corriner
    0

    I think Chamosaur’s above question nicely sums up the source of the O.C. disagreements – “is the Olympics Opening Ceremony supposed to be for the host country, or for the world?”

    As a Canadian viewer, I too found the ceremonies just bizarre. I think for viewers outside the UK and Europe the ceremonies fell flat purely because we didn’t understand the significance of the presentations.

  60. Kirsten
    0

    The thing about the couple hooking up was about celebrating Britain’s multi-culturalness, if that is a word, and I just typed it, so as far as I’m concerned, it is.

    I loved it. There were bits I didn’t like (I’m looking at you Mr Bean and Mr Rascal) but I see how they fitted into the ceremony as a whole. It was cool, clever, funny, quirky, subversive, very very British and celebrated some of the very best things that have come out of Britain.

    The twittersphere went mad during the 70s music section – during the clip of Bohemian Rhapsody, you can just hear a few seconds of the TARDIS. Sadly, it didn’t materialise.

    I’ve been a Queen fan my whole life (the band, not Her Majesty) and for me, one of the most moving things was seeing 200 dancers dressed as Freddie Mercury. It really moved me to think that 20 years after he died, he’s still an example of one of the greatest things to come out of Britain, especially given he was an immigrant and there were some very nasty comments from the right-wing politicians about the multi-cultural elements of the show.

  61. Suzie
    0

    Yay! I’m so happy to hear that the Spice Girls will be in the closing ceremonies! :D

  62. Rach
    0

    Thanks for this post, GFY. It’s one of the best commentaries I’ve read on what was an embarrassing spectacle of confusion that completely missed the mark with this viewer. And yes, I’m a Brit. The NHS is nothing to be proud of. I had to turn it off briefly at that point. Why on earth was Danny Boyle allowed to turn this into a political commentary? My expression matched the Queen’s throughout – stony and unamused. I think she deserves an apology. I think we taxpayers deserve a refund.

    • Poppy
      0

      Seriously, you think the NHS is nothing to be proud of? It’s the thing about Britain that I’m most proud of, along with the rest of the welfare state, and the thing that the government is currently trying to destroy it. Why aren’t you proud of free healthcare for all?

  63. vandalfan
    0

    The visuals were pretty good, but the music! Horrors. That was all the best they could come up with in British music? Sir Paul was there, but they included some random live group, who had the gall to play a McCartney cover song? They had the London Symphony orchestra, and all they could come up with is Vangelis? And the down-tempo Pink Floyd? And the notorious “now all the girls! Now just the boys!” schtick during Hey Jude? Appalling. No wonder Tom Jones is skipping the closing, he’s probably ashamed to participate. And Ringo’s just fine. I saw his tour last week, and was blown away.

    The rest of the show was just odd, but certainly memorable, and I had a great time describing it on the phone to my Mom.

    • Wilma
      0

      ‘some random live group’

      That would be the Arctic Monkeys, one of the best bands around at the moment. And they were probably asked to do the cover because McCartney himself isn’t able to anymore. Didn’t you listen to him messing up Hey Jude?

    • Leah
      0

      A Vangelis piece about the Olympics from an iconic British film about British athletes and sporting ideals. Goidness, yes, I can’t imagine who thought or a second that might be an appropriate thing to play at an Olympic opening ceremony.

  64. Poppy
    0

    I’m British and left wing, so biased I guess, but I loved it all, in particular the tributes to the welfare state and the NHS. And although the Industrial Revolution wasn’t the nicest thing that happened, it formed what Britain is today; leaving it out would’ve been stupid. I think Ai Weiwei put it best: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/28/olympic-opening-ceremony-ai-weiwei-review

    • luxsword
      0

      I’m French and liked the ceremony for the same reasons. ^^ I don’t understand people blasting it as some uk inside joke with reference we can’t get : many of them were obvious, the others were explained by the tv commentaries. It’s ceremony with comments, isn’t it ? Everytime we get the tv hosts to explain stuff and it’s cool and we learn stuff.

  65. Jeannine
    0

    i loved everything about. it had kenneth brannagh, brian eno, the sex pistols, jk rowling, rave, bohemian rhapsody, daniel craig, corgies, the who, the kinks, the beatles, the inventor of the internet, sir simon rattle, a beautiful rendition of ‘abide with me’, the queen jumping out of a helicopter…i could go on and on. also that forging of the rings was the coolest shit ever.

    i am from germany and i watched it together with 10 of my friends and we had a blast! we were cheering and applauding throughout the ceremony. Honestly, never once did i get the feeling that somebody couldn’t follow the proceedings/didn’t get the references.

    also, the cauldron is AWESOME!

  66. Sandala
    0

    WOW! I’ll be very, very careful:
    1. Thank you Queen Elizabeth for your bit, it made the whole thing.
    2. Where were the Rolling Stones??

    I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

  67. Diana
    0

    I wasn’t a complete fan of the ceremony but the Fug Girls commentary is, as another person said, “fake dumb” and subtly anti-intellectual (“History? Pfft”) and it’s frankly surprising to see here. I thought some of the ceremony was stupid, but the transition from pastoral into industrial society was pretty incredible, considering it served not only as the linchpin for British society, but for the entire modern world. It’s one thing to question some of their choices, but to make deliberately uninformed comments about it just glorifies ignorance.

    • Tina
      0

      Could not possibly agree more.

    • Amoki
      0

      I’m going to stop reading here with Diana’s comment (Oh horrors, I’m glorifying ignorance! Someone lock me in a tower immediately!) but I just wanted to say that I cannot imagine a more hyperbolic, assumptive statement than you calling the Fug Girls “anti-intellectual”.

      I sincerely hope that one day you look back on your indignation and laugh.

    • Leah
      0

      Actually, yes — that’s what bothered me about this write-up. The Fug Girls are witty and irreverent and gloriously snarky, and that’s why we love you. But here you were playing fake-dumb. You’re not dumb, you’re very clever and very quick, intellectually. When you pretend to mistake Person A for Person B it’s generally for a clever reason. The whole “Hehe, we assume anyone in a top hat is Abe Lincoln even though it was the standard form of formal headgear for mollions of people for a century or more” schtik seemed to do you and the US a disservice.

  68. Tina
    0

    Must you delete anything remotely negative?

    • Jessica
      0

      Dude. If I were deleting negative comments, you wouldn’t see a lot of these comments. That being said, a lot of people need to chillax in here and I would be thrilled to close these comments unless we can all disagree CIVILLY.

      • Heather
        0

        Tina, we haven’t deleted any comments. You guys know us by now. You know we don’t mind disagreements. You know we don’t delete comments from people who disagree with us. If you commented and you don’t see it, it’s either because something burped when you posted it, or because it landed in our “pending” queue because it used one of our warning words and we just haven’t gotten to moderating that yet. I promise.

  69. Amy
    0

    I will try not to offend, but NO ONE commented on the corgis! They were too cute-they need their own agent!

  70. Charlotte
    0

    I adored the ceremony, in large part because it didn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. I’m pretty sure an American opening ceremony would assume the rest of the world understood the in-jokes, so not sure why they’re so surprised that not everything in ours was instantly understandable to them! Danny Boyle didn’t try to match up to Beijing, he just went for irreverent and very British, and just hugely fun. Too bad if your commentators were lazy and American-egocentric, our commentary was comprehensive but unobtrusive. It was our ceremony and we loved it here :)

    • WithoutaK
      0

      I don’t think our issue is that it’s too “in-jokey.” The issue is we have crappy commentators who were singing along to the music instead of explaining what the fuck was going on. I didn’t even bother to finish watching I was so annoyed with them.

  71. Chasmosaur
    0

    Oh – I need to add another “Brava”

    JK Rowling. We all know how you are pretty private and how the big crowds scare you. I was amazed she showed up.

  72. Fletch
    0

    Long time lurker, first time commenter. Regardless of nationality or political views…I thought this post was hilarious – exactly what I’ve come to expect from you guys! Thanks for doing all this.

    For the record, I have no idea why, but I really liked it. Even though that baby was uber-creepy.

  73. Anita
    0

    OK, for the record, I’m Australian – I thought the ceremony was pretty good and I actually said to an English friend before it started that I hoped there were some quirky things in there that only the British might understand. Its part of the fun to have the in-jokes. At the games in Sydney in 2000 I’m pretty sure there were many moments where the rest of the world was scratching their heads. That’s OK. We don’t all have to be the same and we don’t all have to like every bit of it.

  74. Rambutan
    0

    So, to clarify a bit about some of your reactions to the ceremony that I think perhaps meant you didn’t get the point.

    Going from the green landscape and spending time showing the destruction of the landscape into an industrial one, which greatly affected the lives of everyone in Britain was about social commentary. It was also about the environment and sustainability. It was deliberately showing the negative effects of pollution, which I think was a brave choice, given that the whole world was watching. It was partly saying “look at the mess you can make”. During that section they also showed suffragettes, class struggles, immigrants arriving. I thought the spectacle of the towers rising and the molten steel was stunning.

    Kenneth Branagh delivered one of the most beautiful speeches from the whole of Shakespeare, – from the Tempest.

    Finally the cheesy text messaging section was slightly cheesy, until I found out it was actually all about Sir Tim Berners Lee. I didn’t know a Brit invented the Internet and then gave it away for free. What a hero. So in hindsight, the social media aspect of that section made complete sense, and I’m grateful Danny Boyle made a fuss over it. Because, hello – the internet – our whole lives changing because of it…

    Finally, your comments about Michael Fish and the weather. Yes it is true, Brits are obsessed with the weather, we all know this, but we’re also good at poking fun of ourselves. I thought this was funny. Got to have some weather references in there somewhere.

  75. Mahastee
    0

    Fug Girls, you are wonderful and witty, much of this post had me laughing out loud. I understand that it was never meant to be a serious critique or reportage on the symbolism of the Opening Ceremony. Carry on.

  76. Judith
    0

    My favorite silly bit was not on the field. During the applause for the Queen, some upper class twit standing behind the D of E spotted himself on the monitors and s-l-o-w-l-y skootched down until his giant head was in frame, all the while wetly clapping.

    Prat, did you think nobody noticed?

  77. Laura WL
    0

    Thanks for this fug girls. I had a prior commitment, so I couldn’t watch the Opening Ceremony. The next day though, at a family reunion, the consensus was generally that it was (1) very British (2) very odd, and (3) a wee bit boring. I think some of it may be the crap commentary from NBC, so there’s that… And today at work everyone was reblogging, kvetching and generally loling about how supremely bored the Queen looked, which, I don’t know, is that generally an accepted thing? That the Queen can look curmudgeon-y? And if she was bored… What hope did us Americans have? Also, some of the comments here sort of surprised me, bc most Americans (at least the educated ones) are super-duper Anglophiles and are a wee bit obsessed with our mother country, so I certainly don’t think we criticize/make-fun-of out of disrespect. Again, thanks for the recap!

  78. TonyG
    0

    I am American and I did enjoy the opening ceremony, totally reveling in its quirkiness. I think Boyle’s approach was to provide something uniquely British, realizing that everyone would not understand everything. After all, if you’ve ever watched a British sitcom or variety show, British humor can be very insular. (For example, there are still jokes I don’t understand even as I enjoy repeated showings of Ab Fab, Monty Python, Keeping up Appearances and Are You Being Served).

    Nonetheless, that which I did not necessarily completely understand in the Olympics opening ceremont contained overall themes like suffering, poverty, escapism, healing, literature, industry, fantasy, and storytelling(!) that I could relate to and follow even if I did not always understand the particularly British details.

    A critique I’d like to offer about this particular slide show is this: Even as I chuckled at some of its humor, the heaviness of its snark was a bit of a put off for me.

    Almost all the slides had a heavy dismissive tone that, normally, on GFY, is lightened up here and there. It needed a bit more levity as a “leitmotif,” if you will, to break up the heaviness.

    Without that levity it became a bit overwhelming; not as fun to read. Reading it made me feel uneasy, if that makes sense. I can honestly say I have never ever felt that way (i.e., uneasy) before while perusing a slide show here on GFY.

    It’s as if I was intruding on someone’s diary that revealed something deeply personal that I wasn’t supposed to read. And you know what, that may have been the point of the post. Comedy often is the flip side of some feeling repressed — in this case how the ceremony really did seem to really work Heather’s last nerve.

  79. Heather
    0

    Indeed, I just didn’t enjoy it (and think that if it’s true that it was intentionally scripted as a bunch if insider stuff for only Brits, that doing so is a mistake at an event that’s for the world and on a global stage that happens to be your backyard). I was so looking forward to this because London and Britain are huge, huge parts of who I am, and I guess I just didn’t feel it the way I had hoped. But again, I mean… I wasn’t sitting here smoking with hatred as I wrote it. I just picked the photos that I thought were funny and/or representative of the stuff that left me scratching my head. I didn’t enjoy it. We were ribbing it on Twitter with Fug Nation and what felt like just about everyone else. And the Queen COULD NOT have looked more underwhelmed about all of it. So off I went. If it’s changed people’s perceptions of me as a human being, well, please consider that it’s just one post on one day, and even if there have been others, I think on balance I’m more aptly represented by the others that are in the lighter majority.

    • TonyG
      0

      Definitely did not change my opinion of the good nature of the site, or you…there is so much here to enjoy! I’m 4ever a Fug Nationasliista!

  80. Alaurable
    0

    Awww as a kiwi in London it was amazing watching it on big screens with people from all over the world. There were definitely bits I didn’t get but it was great looking them up and finding out about them afterwards. I think it was VERY much in the style of British humour which it has to be said – other countries / cultures just might not get. I loved the multiculturalism of it and the journey from past to present. I too found the NHS bit a bit played out and not a fan of the texting but all in all a great show and so British! I think it’s wrong to say it was an ‘inside joke’ – more an extravagance of uniquely British culture and humour. Not intentionally exclusive but potentially misunderstood. I also love how proud the Brits are of it all – They tend to be so unassuming and self-depreciating so it’s so great having my London friends come out as closet patriots – love it!

  81. Sara
    0

    I haven’t read all the comments, so sorry if I’m repeating what someone else has said, but I think that the whole Industrial Revolution scene at very beginning was linked to the ‘dark Satanic mills’ of William Blake’s Jerusalem, which I suppose would be England’s unofficial national anthem. It’s a line which is usually skipped over and not really thought about.

    I loved the piece before the ceremonies kicked off where the LSO played Nimrod as the Shipping Forecast was being read out. Long live the Shipping Forecast!

    GFY Girls, while I don’t share your sentiments (I bloody loved every moment of it) I can understand how it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. And the BBC did say that the 7/7 section hadn’t been aired in the States, so please don’t beat yourselves up over it.

  82. Sajorina
    0

    I just want to add that it wasn’t only NBC, the local station in my country didn’t show some parts of the opening ceremony either, so the people of the USA were not the only ones to feel all “WTF?” while watching an incomplete broadcast!

  83. Ann
    0

    Seriously, only the USA didn’t get the opening ceremony :D

  84. Rebekah
    0

    hahaha… I cannot BELIEVE that anyone took your Lincoln comment seriously! Wow.

    I loved Mr. Bean, though.

  85. Hester
    0

    i think if some of the comments tell you anything, it’s that the Olympics are something of a tender point for the UK! Over the past few years, as well as the public support for 2012, there’s been serious resistance to the whole thing – not just our usual low-level secretly-enjoyable whingeing, but proper ‘we’re in a recession and we’re spending this much money?’ ‘Who asked us if we wanted this expensive circus?’, ‘It’s going to be all about London and it’ll be TERRIBLE!’, ‘Who in their right mind wants to go to the Lea Valley afterwards?’ Proper, bitter public annoyance, towards both governments involved in organising it, especially given the horrific events that tore London apart the next day.

    But when Danny Boyle delivered this glorious quirky love letter to all the big and small things that even the most curmudgeonly Brits are proud of – not just the traditionalists swooning over Nimrod and green fields and maypoles, but the liberals’ celebration of the Jamaican immigrants arriving on the WIndrush in 1948 and the vision of the NHS and a society that celebrates punk, gay kisses on soaps, inter-racial relationships and weather – it had an incredible effect on the country’s mood. The whole country is (more or less) now TOTALLY BEHIND THE WHOLE THING. It’s truly astonishing. And it was largely Danny Boyle’s self-deprecating in-joke touches that won the home crowd over. If he’d designed a blaring, bombastic, Beijing-esque spectacle, it’d have played right into the hands of the critics who questioned whether we could really afford to host this ruinous party. As it is, I think he created something with real artistic genius, especially around that petal cauldron, and the conflict between the pastoral and the industrial in Britain’s heartland (and that goes for Wales and Scotland, as well as England).

    Sorry not all of it made sense out of context. Maybe NBC needed Joan Collins and Stephanie Beacham onside to explain some of the more arcane details…

    • Anita
      0

      Same thing happened here in Sydney. Maybe as socieities we’re different to the Americans in that we tend to whinge and moan beforehand and then, when it all turns out OK, well…we thought it was great all along didn’t we? The Americans are much better at self-belief and cheerleading for their country from the beginning. I kind of admire that.

  86. Lily1214
    0

    I love this guy! Saw him on the internet earlier in the day.

  87. Eleanor
    0

    Another subversive touch – apparently Saudi tv is fuming, because by airing the ceremony live, they included a segment of iconic kisses. This segment featured a famous kiss from a soap Brookside, which was the first lesbian kiss aired before the watershed.

    Love the Fug girls but thought this was unnecessarily grumpy. I’m in Ireland, and there are people here who would have loved to have got onto their high horses about a jingoistic ceremony, but instead the ceremony won them round. Friends in an assortment of European countries have also reported that the ceremony went down well. I’m aware that NBC carried a much edited version of the ceremony, but this reads like you were determined not to enjoy it, which considering your anglophilia is most surprising.

    • Jessica
      0

      On the contrary. If you read the intro, Heather literally says: “Jessica and I love the Olympics. Love. LOVE. We love the cheese, we love the sappy NBC packages designed to weave our heartstrings into a quilt of tears, we love the actual sports, we love the flags, we love the anthems, we love Wry Bob Costas, we love being super frustrated by all the commentating… All of it.”

      We love the Olympics. We did not go into this wanting to hate it. We just DIDN’T LIKE IT. It doesn’t mean we hate the Olympics, England, the internet, Abe Lincoln, any of you readers, the Queen, corgis, or any number of things. Doesn’t mean we are ignorant of the Industrial Revolution, or what the NHS is. Doesn’t mean ANYTHING other than the fact that we thought it was cracked out. PLENTY of people also thought it was cracked out — I had English friends IN ENGLAND text me that they thought it was nutty. Other people loved it. THAT IS ALL GOOD. We are allowed to think this was nutty and you are allowed to love it, if you did. I find it interesting how divisive this post has been, especially considering how generally kind and friendly Fug Nation is, even when we disagree. All I can say that this point is: CLOSING CEREMONY. MEET US BEHIND THE GYM. COME ALONE. IT IS ON.

  88. Eliane
    0

    I loved your post. I also loved the ceremony. And I was so glad that it wasn’t another heritage fest with kings, queens, gold and knights in armour. We’ve had the Jubilee with all its pomp. This was for everyone and what I really loved was its inclusiveness.

    Fwiw I actually think Branagh was playing Abraham Darby and not Brunel. Yes he looked like Brunel but frankly everyone looked like then. But Darby not Brunel gets the mention in the program notes and Darby worked out the method to cast iron which is what set the Industrial Revolution off in the first place. So the whole program was bookended by two great inventors – one who started the Industrial Revolution and one who invented the Web (not the Internet – US Govt gets that credit) and kicked off the Information Revolution. Phew. Enough history nerdery for one evening.

  89. Amy G.
    0

    That freaky giant puppet that you took for Captain Hook? I’m pretty sure it was the Duchess from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.”

  90. Charlotte
    0

    I think us Brits have proven enough times we can laugh at ourselves. I thought the commentary was funny. Much love to Fug Nation!

  91. Heidi
    0

    I loved it. I loved the whole thing. I thought it was awesome.

    that is all.

  92. oohsparkley
    0

    Interesting discussions and valid opposing viewpoints from all. My two cents – the opening ceremonies are too long. This one had it’s highs and lows and seemed geared more toward the host country than merely entertaining the world-wide audience. Thanks to the Fug Girls for your funny recaps. I hope you weren’t too upset by the negetive commentary. Love ya!

  93. enola
    0

    The Fug Girls say they were surprised that the post was so divisive. On my side, I was surprised by the absence of GFY’s usual grace and wit and acute intelligence. Yes, I can see how many people might think the ceremony was ‘cracked out / nutty / weird’, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to spend 45 slides repeating that same point over and over again.