Traditionally, the opening ceremony of the Olympics is dedicated to showing the culture and history of the country the event is hosted in. I remember only a handful of opening ceremonies in my life, but each one was magnificent in its own way.
Truthfully, I wasn’t aware of anything until the turn of the century. After Y2K, as a kid when you see grown adults stocking up food and canning water, you start to become aware of your place in the world and current events outside of your household. When I heard about the Olympics, I became a huge fan instantly.
In 2000, Sydney:
Looking back now, I am surprised they didn’t start the ceremony with a bunch of inmates. That’s how Australia started, no? I guess focusing more on the diverse culture of present day made a little more sense in this case.
In 2002, Salt Lake City:
The opening ceremony focused largely on remembering Sep. 11, 2001, with Salt Lake City being the first Olympic games since then. To make any kind of snarky, funny comment regarding these games would be uncouth, so I am excluding this from the analysis.
In 2004, Athens:
Can we just talk about the fact that the coordinators created their own lake to officially push the envelope on creativeness for the games? Actually, this is more than pushing. First, they lit Olympic rings on fire, and then they have a boat floating on the lake. Now it is a contest and America has not forgotten. We will avenge our title as most ridiculous over-the-top country in the world.
In 2006, Turin:
What I got from the games in Turin, other than now I know Turin is in Italy, is that they are really into Monkeys In a Barrel. Was that not what they were going for with those costumes and linking arms in that way? Then later, everyone starts putting on lab coats and goggles. We can assume this is in reference to studying molecular structure trying to find a way to enhance their athletes to beat America in competition. Nice try, Turin.
In 2008, Beijing:
Beijing blew my mind. The fact that they had about a billion people out on the (arena? court? stage?) that all aligned into perfect formation? How many hours did it take to get that exactly right? Or maybe they are all actually robots. That would explain so much.
In 2010, Vancouver:
*sigh* Vancouver was just confusing and there was too much happening. We are skiing down a fake mountain. We are dressed as Native Americans. We are singing “Hallelujah.” Stop. Find one thing and do it exceptionally. Don’t do 50 things so-so. Got it? Moving on.
In 2012, London:
London was probably the best about showing the entire history of the country. It was a story that made sense but was also extremely impressive. Like an opera. That is the best simile I can think of. This ceremony almost made fun of itself with its quirky attributes. Adding in Mr. Bean? Genius. Showing the Queen jumping from a helicopter into the stadium with James Bond? Come on. THIS is entertainment.
We will see what the 2014 Olympic opening ceremony will bring. A full video hasn’t been created yet. To be taken from this: all ceremonies bring something new to the table and all teach us something about the culture of that people. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get to laugh about learning.