TORONTO — The opening ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games was at times breathtaking, and at other times, just weird.
Let’s be nice and go over the breathtaking first. Sarah McLachlan and k.d. Lang sang wonderfully. The actual lighting of the Olympic cauldron was inspired, as three Canadian heroes got to participate instead of the traditional one, including Rick Hansen, who IS a national icon.
Oh, and when those cartoon whales swam across the floor and began to spout water, that was neat.
But a lot of this ceremony, which was so heavily anticipated after Beijing’s opener, did not represent Canadian culture. That wasn’t Canada.
I can’t comment on whether the Aboriginal peoples of this country were done justice during the ceremony last night, but I do find it strange that we so glamorously portray their culture on a world stage, even when they are treated so poorly at home. That can’t be fair.
Don’t get me wrong. Aboriginal culture is beautiful and interesting, but Canada is definitely not a land of ice, snow and people dancing beneath giant trees and totem poles. We’ve a rich multicultural society that inhabits a a few vibrant cosmopolitan centres and cities in between, many of whom have successfully intertwined their ancestral cultural values with Canada’s light cultural values. That’s what Canada is; a mosaic. That’s what we should’ve seen last night.
And the clich©s! The mounties, the icy, barren landscape, Nelly Furtado in a tight dress. It was all embarassingly there. We perpetuated many stereotypes last night. Especially when VANOC’s speaker spoke after Jacques Rogge. He almost put me to sleep, just like those kind, timid and shy Canadians tend to do.
Oh, and that terrifying Coca-Cola bear that emerged from the ground, that wasn’t a clich©, but it was creepy.
And then finally, at the last moment, when The Great One and his fellow all-star Canadians were all set to light the flame, technology bitch slapped us. We waited and waited. Even Gretzky looked pissed for a second.
Then finally, the cauldron emerged, in all its glory, and was lit by three Canadian heroes. Then Gretzky ran outside to light the outdoor flame, and received the wonderful treatment Canada allots to all of its national icons. He rode on the back of a truck while it rained on his face. Nice.
But world, don’t take that image of Canada home with you. It isn’t what life is like here. We don’t all live in the Arctic circle among the Orcas and the ice floes.
But we do rule the Winter Olympics. So look out.