We watched the Olympics all day for two weeks, so you could have a life...
Okay, the Games are over. There's now this empty void, but that's okay, I'll get past it, I always do. It just takes a little time.
Anyway, all that's left to comment on are the Closing Ceremonies, so I'll dive in.
I thought the Closing Ceremonies were wildly uninteresting. While I like the use of computer graphics, and have actually argued for them for years at such outdoor TV spectaculars, like Super Bowl halftime shows, they should be to augment the show, not be the show. If they're the focus of the pageant, then it’s like we’re just watching a cartoon. And to me, that's what so much of the presentation was. It certainly was impressive technology, and pretty. But I found it empty, and told me little about the culture.
What most surprised me, though, was how thin the Chinese presentation was for the 2022 games in Beijing. That's because it was produced by the same brilliant film director, Zhang Yimou (whose work includes The House of Flying Daggers and Hero), who did the otherworldly stunning -- if a little creepy -- Opening Ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Last night's not only also relied on computer graphics, but also came across like they forgot that had to do this and threw it together last month.
Also, as I noted beforehand, my concerns came to be, and Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were, unfortunately, a waste. I’m sure many people, if not most thought they were “fun,” because of their rapport with one another, but they added nothing to what was going on. They knew little about most of the athletes, who they were, what they did during the Olympics and why that may have been meaningful, and the thing about the Closing Ceremonies is that identifying them as they march in is half the fun of the Parade of Athletes. Putting into perspective why they're so happy. Terry Gannon did the best he could, but he’s been focused with figure skating for the Games and didn’t know most people, and could only add a limited amount. That’s where someone like a Bob Costas shined. At one point, Gannon asked about whether the Closing Ceremonies was where the athletes really had a chance to finally deal with one another, and Lipinski burst out an enthusiastic, "Yes!" and explained that that was why it was so special. Happily, it was left to Weir to note quietly that they tended to mingle in the Olympic Village during the Games. I love the Closing Ceremonies for what they are, but at their best they can be so rich and vibrant, and be the proper culmination of the two weeks of sport spectacle that went on before. These just pretty much...were.
And one huge, personal complaint that I'm sure most people couldn't have cared less about – NBC didn’t have the "Scroll of Entire NBC Production Crew" that I always find touching, 10 minutes of names going by to honor those who pulled this remarkable technical achievement off. I was told by my pal Clare Duffy Swift -- whose senior producer credit I always love spotting -- that she was told someone thought that they did run the credit, but at a "weird time." That may be, though especially given how much I watched the broadcasts and didn’t see them, it’s hard to miss a 10-minute crawl… But even if I did miss them at some weird time, “weird times” doesn’t count. Having the credits come at the very end, as they show the montage of highlights is always a highly dramatic and lovely way to honor everyone.
But the Olympic flame is now out. It was mostly quite wonderful. And now life goes on. Until two years from now in Tokyo. Kon'nichiwa.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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