I hear-tell the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was an “awesome” and “beautiful” event.

I hope I don’t offend or hurt anyone’s feelings.  I try to see the other side as well – and I concede that the Olympic Games in general aren’t all bad, and even have a potential for good.  However, I feel compelled to share some of my honest feelings.  With all due respect…. 

I’m sure the opening ceremony was an awesome sight.  The best scripted movies can be awe-inspiring – like the Hummer and Cadillac Escalade can seem like awesome vehicles, especially if you let the advertising be your guide and ignore their contributions to unnecessarily polluting, helping destroy our world, and keeping us in dependence (slavery) to fossil fuels.  

I can’t help but feel that McDonald’s, General Electric, Coca-Cola, NBC and the other corporations who sponsor these Olympics are contributing to (and profiting from) a parallel form of destructiveness – making multimillion-dollar profits in collaboration with a murderous, civil-rights-repressing Chinese government – and making that profit-machine awe-inspiring and beautiful so we’ll swallow it like a cold can of Sprite on a hot summer night. 

Forget the imprisoned and tortured Buddhist monks.  Forget the decimation of Tibetan culture.  Forget the kidnapping of the Panchen Lama.  Forget the persecution of Falun Gong practioners and other spiritual seekers.  Forget the tanks aiming to mow down peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators during the massacre at Tiananmen Square.  Forget it all, because Coke adds life, GE “brings good things to life,” sports should be supported at all costs, and lest we forget, we Americans need some entertainment to go with our potato chips and Budweiser.  Maybe we’ll win some gold medals, too, so we can flaunt our alleged superiority.  I wonder if competition trumps common sense in the land of the U.S. Mince?

Protesting showings of Leni Riefenstal’s Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will in Holocaust-era Germany might have accomplished nothing, like protesting the Beijing Olympics might accomplish nothing.  But does that mean folks like us should just say “fuck it,” sit back and enjoy the show – support the filmmakers, the movie houses that show it, and by proxy the spectacle’s Nazi producers – all the while allowing our heads to be filled with propaganda over and over again?

I can’t help thinking of a Dead Kennedys song title from the 1980’s: Triumph of the Swill.




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