Aug 13th, 2008

All The Tea In China

The RLA and I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. It was an amazing feat of engineering, propaganda, visual overload and better commercials than the Super Bowl. Yeah, sure, the adorable little girl was lip-syncing because she had the face, but a less-adorable little girl had the voice. Yeah, sure, the amazing fireworks were computer generated. Yeah, sure, a lot of the costumes on the athletes during the march of the Olympians were almost as awful as the losing designs on Project Runway. And yeah, sure, the POTUS is an idiot who kept looking at his watch, and Laura has been replaced by a robot, not that anyone would notice. And, yeah, sure and really, the talking heads were way out of their depth and kept spouting some really odd things about China, about the ceremonies and about life, the universe and everything, but none of that is what made the hair on my arms stand straight up and heart leap to my throat.

Nope. What brought the chill to my very soul was the fact that none of the precision drills were done by computer. The drums, the marching, the amazing, amazing, amazing kaleidoscopic silk boxes that moved and changed in time to the music, they were all operated by individual living men (I didn’t see any women, but everybody was dressed the same and had the same haircuts, so maybe there were women in the silk boxes or banging the drums). Each act took 2008 people, and nobody worked twice. The talking heads made reference to the artistic director just shrugging off the question, and saying, “we have plenty of people”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not chilled by the sheer numbers. I am chilled by the sheer numbers working in unison with a hive mind. Yeah, this was all friendship and doves and we be one world, mon, but holy shit. If that hive mind turned to military ambition, the rest of the world could just start learning Mandarin.

The RLA didn’t see it. But that whole exercise chilled me and scared me and made me think that maybe this was a message to the globe. And then I had another revelation. With the one-child policy in force for the last thirty years or so, there aren’t any cousins. No extended families. The basic framework of China, the family and the ancestors, has been stripped away. There are no cousins. There cannot be. There are only single family units, and any devotion to anything larger has to be a devotion to the state, and there we are, back at the hive mind. The collective. The Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

My girl cousin admitted to a frisson of fear when the small military display goose-stepped across the field. But that was a function of the goose-step, I think, and not the implied military force. Anyway, I continue to watch, and I continue to marvel at the athletes. But when did beach volleyball become an Olympic sport? And why isn’t the Equestrian competition on a mainstream network? It’s on Oxygen, which, if I recall correctly, is pitched to women. Is it the old stereotype about girls and horses? Because in our house, it’s the RLA who’s been trying to watch the dressage and cross country.

I encourage him, of course, because I luv horsies.