What first impressed me about the use of Sir Paul McCartney last night was that Danny Boyle employed him in the role of chucker out. Hey Jude was a classic pub emptier way back when and there was Sir Paul going round turning up the lights and taking the ashtrays away.
I’m obviously a bit dated here, but ISTR Mr Boyle used to live the post-student dream in Hulme a few years before I did and I was rather chuffed by him telling the world that we used to drink in the same pubs. The Olympics gets a lot better when it’s all about you, which was why the evening’s caperings went down so well overall.
But here’s another analysis:
The Olympics, of course, have a long and troubling history with protest and dissent. The Games have mostly been hostile to them. Showing in other parts of London right now are two productions of a much more modest scale, each of which speaks to this. One is a documentary called Salute, which tells not only of black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who were banned from the Olympic movement for raising fists on the podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, but also of the white Australian silver medalist, Peter Norman, who got similar treatment for wearing a badge, in solidarity with Smith and Carlos, because he objected to the treatment of Aborigines in his own country. (Smith and Carlos served as pallbearers at Norman's funeral in 2006.)
... Somewhere in the cacophony of last night, during what might have been the world's largest Twitter storm, this nugget emerged: Hey Jude was No. 1 on the charts the day Smith and Carlos raised their fists -- and that single's B-side was Revolution.
I’m not convinced by the article’s general thesis that the opening ceremony highlighted the role of protest and dissent as a deliberate contrast to Beijing. I thought the response to Beijing was to make it deliberately both inclusive and parochial and let the rest of the world make what it wanted of the thing. But then I remembered the lyrics to Revolution:
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Cheeky, that. Quite nicely done too.