Monday, March 27, 2006

Melbourne: the shame

One wonders what countries were inflicted with telecasts of the Commonwealth Games Closing ceremony. The fewer the better.
If the opening was a cringe-making affair, the closing was a display of gauche parochialism on the most spectacular scale. Melbourne is besotted with Melbourne. Melbourne celebrates Melbourne. Everything is about Melbourne, to the boorish exclusion of the rest of the country and the Commonwealth. And so, with a terrifying lack of taste let alone sophistication, the ceremony featured dull rock music accompanied by football players and ballet dancers in football colours. Melbourne is the world headquarters of football, don't you know. The Grand Prix made it in there, too. And, for some reason, photos of people's relatives to convey the message that Melbourne is the great cultural melting pot. Doh. Just like the rest of the country - but don't tell Melbourne. It thinks it is unique.
I had to watch the closing ceremony out of macabre fascination - hoping that perhaps it may be better than the opening. Hopes dashed by the Melbourne-centric obsession and the general choregraphic mess and hotch-potch of half-baked, self-aggrandising ideas.
Redemption came in the form of the Indians. As their teaser for the 2010 Games in Delhi, they turned on Bollywood delights complete with giant elephant floats and myriad well-wrought and jolly cultural representations - including, of all things, Bollywood hip hop. It was a vivid, celebratory joy. India may not have won as many medals as Australia, but it won the ceremony production stakes hands down.

Of course, medals are the rub of the Commonwealth Games. India scored only 50 to Australia's 221 (with England at 110 and Canada at 86). The competing countries include Tuvalu, Nauru, Malta, Botswana, the Maldives, Belize, Kiribati, Bangladesh, Grenada, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. Funnily enough, these are not countries who can invest vast amounts into institutes of sport, not countries in which sport is the big priority. So the significance of these games is questionable. One may call it a vast waste of money.

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