Sunday, April 25, 2010

Olympics and OlymPICS

Clint Burnham discussed the Vancouver Public Library design as compensating a city “which fears both its First Nations past and Asian future” (36).
I was thinking about the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies... I found it interesting that the closing ceremonies were so infused with classic Canadian stereotypes: giant (expensive) beavers, lumberjacks, and the like. Once everything had been said and done, and the weight of the opening ceremony (and the Games!) had lifted,
Vancouver breathed a sigh of relief and seemed to poke fun of its Canadian-ness. Fully embracing the standard jokes about Canada, it was as if we felt that the Games proved we were more than the label, therefore we gave in and felt safe to play up the stereotypes, of course, just for fun. Neither the opening nor closing dealt with any of the other cultures, such as Chinese influence in Vancouver (especially with the New Years so close!), bringing Burnham’s quote into conversation...
I also found it fascinating how much the First Nations culture was stressed. Throughout the Games, I noticed that each of the shows I went to (in the Cultural Olympiad) had a sideshow, portraying very typical First Nations art and performance. In the opening ceremonies, there was almost an over-expression of First Nations influence, not only “pigeonholing” the art, but resulting in a pressured pigeonholing of
Canada as well.

Another Note on the Olympics...
(since my Simpsons post didn’t count!)

I was out and about in the streets of Vancouver for almost all of the two heavenly, school-free, party-filled Olympics weeks. Fully embracing the presence of the foreigners and the (uncharacteristically warm) exciting air, I noticed some pretty interesting interactions.
For one, there was a very clear clash between the Americans and the Canadians. I don’t really need to say much about this. But one really cool thing I observed was how many foreigners were backing
Canada up after their countries were out/not in certain games. Aside from the Russians, who refused to change out of their tracksuits (don’t get me wrong, I love ‘em), a variety of nations were standing behind Canadians. I don’t necessarily count the purchasing of those flag-capes as super meaningful, but it was nice to see out-of-towners singing along to the anthem, or saying “cheers” to Canada at the local pubs. I think overall, regardless of the competition or the speedbumps along the way, the actual two weeks were an unforgettable experience, bringing out patriotism in those that didn’t even realize they had it.

Attached are some pics :)

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