A Foreigner’s Guide To The Paralympic Opening Ceremony
After the exuberance and the wonder of the Olympic Opening Ceremony directed by Danny Boyle, and the stodgy final demise of the Olympic Closing Ceremony that went on and on and on, I felt a little bilious to discover that the Paralympics would be having a three hour Opening Ceremony too.
There are two famous British disabled people I could think of who are known throughout the world and I was looking forward to seeing their involvement in the opening ceremony. The first was Professor Stephen Hawking: the theoretical physicist, author of A Brief History of Time, and bit-part character on The Simpsons.
And there he was opening the ceremony by starting off a physical theatre recreation of the big bang which, as in any science lesson, segued in with a rendition of Rihanna’s Umbrella.
The appearance of the Higgs boson particle (left below) must have raised eyebrows as rather than it being the discovery of the modern age it looked more like it’d been stolen from the Brazilians as they paraded something very similar (right below) in their brief Olympic handover presentation.
Before descending into some hellish opera the appearance of Sir Ian McKellen in long flowing robes called repeatedly for Miranda had me stumped. My reference to Miranda was the series of comics I invested in, in 2003, which betrayed that trust by abruptly ceasing publication halfway through.
Yet it turned out that Miranda was yet another scene from Shakespeare’s The Tempest which has infiltrated all three ceremonies so far. Although old Gandalf’s instruction to Miranda to watch the performance led to limited acting seeing she was incarcerated in a fixed wheelchair that was suspended from the rafters. And the repeated cutting to her “watching” made me think of a BBC concept drawing from 2004 about what the first proper flying Dalek would look like.
Intermission: The Ballad of Jonathan Edwards
In the UK the ceremony was covered by Channel 4 with commentators of stolid News presenter John Snow and Jonathan Edwards who was the golden boy of British athletics when he hopped, skipped, and jumped further than anyone else had in 1995 and he thanked God for all he had, who saw that all was good.
Jonathan Edwards then used this time in this media spotlight to become known as the prominent go-to Christian and was able to use this to get a position presenting Songs of Praise and he thanked God for all he had, who saw that all was good.
When Jonathan Edwards had got all he wanted, in the form of sporting prowess and a foot in the world of media, he turned on God and shook his fist at the sky declaring that he didn’t really believe in him and so what was he going to do about it? God was angered and saw to it that Jonathan Edwards never hoped, skipped, or jumped further than anyone else ever again and he struck the young man grey.
All sounds a bit Old Testament. And off the back of God’s love Jonathan Edwards still whores himself to whatever media career he can lay his hands on to this very day. And so ends the ballad of Jonathan Edwards: The God hater.
Meanwhile Back With The Ceremony
After less than half an hour it was quite a surprise when they started bringing on the athletes, in a parade that took two whole hours, and I imagined all the fun was over as it’s not like you can just point and laugh at the different national teams and what they’re wearing, can you?
The Top Five Funniest International Teams
Now we all know the British team looked ridiculous, with shiny patches ironed on by Paul McCartney’s daughter in the name of fashion, but that can’t stop us poking fun at the rest of the world you know.
4. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico stuck with the same colour, but with a little more finesse, and they seemed to have based their outfits on the man from Del Monte.
Still we all know rambling old Clint is too busy these days having conversations with the ghosts in his own mind.
But the funniest team of them all, and my personal favourite, as to a man they all came on dressed as Sylvester McCoy circa 1987. Somewhere there’s a science fiction convention missing an audience of geeks.
Meanwhile Back With The Ceremony… Again
So it’s now three hours in, gone 11.30 pm, and the tele-visual entertainment is only just beginning again and so you see why it’s no wonder that so many people missed the end. It was a school night after all.
And, after all that, we’re back with Miranda down from the rafters which saw her get up and walk into a giant umbrella boat and get whisked away on a nightmarish voyage of Alice proportions where at every step she’s accompanied by a lecture from Stephen Hawking’s booming robot voice and had Sir Ian popping up all over like Gandalf… which culminated in Miranda doing a flying waltz.
I don’t know what it all meant, but I reckon it was probably enough to trigger a review of Miranda’s disability allowance.
So I think we all learnt from that that, like Miranda, we too should all go out into the World and be ourselves… To be who we truly are… To help to change the World… That and that all disabled people can secretly fly.
And so just one of the two British prominent disabled made an appearance. Good on Stephen Hawking, way out of his comfort zone, but the other’s been around since the seventies and has massive international branding…
Now please, for the love of God, tell me there’s not going to be a Paralympic Closing Ceremony too…