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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

British monarchy can afford self-irony

Why Ukrainian democracy cannot?
2 August, 2012 - 00:00

Not only was the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games impressive, but it also focused our attention on several important issues. According to numerous mass media publications, the show made Britons “choke with pride.” And this refers not as much to the show itself as to the scale of the idea. The production director of the show Islands of Wonders Danny Boyle could not just sense, but also visualize the “spirit of British self-irony.” Owing to the director’s talent the grandiose, super modern show firmly stuck to the complex construction of cultural codes and meanings, which are for the most part easily decoded not only by Britons, but the whole world. The show was based on the evolution of the British society, the key landmarks of its history (not only pleasant, but inevitable and frequently crucial), main principles and features of present-day Great Britain, the direction followed by the British society and its aspirations. That was impressive.

Significantly, Boyle picked the idea for his show from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The director did not forget to include in the show the unofficial anthem of Great Britain “Jerusalem” with the lyrics written by one more “real British” William – Blake. During the show the pastoral English landscapes, sheep and croquet were replaced by industrial revolutions, the invention of steel (credited by two states at once, Great Britain and Germany), and appearance of inventor Isambard Brunel on stage, Suffragists’ march, World War II, West Indian migrants, a qualitatively new, multicultural and tolerant, society. Further was moving to the digital age. And all the scenes were accompanied by the “British cultural escort,” what Great Britain gave to the world, retaining it at the same time. Peter Pen, Alice, Mary Poppins, Voldemort from the Harry Potter book series. Movies, TV series, comic shows… Mr. Bin, James Bond, David Backham… The Beatles, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John. The director daringly mixed everything which makes up Britain: we heard the hymn of the rebels’ generation, parody of “God Save the Queen” performed by Sex Pistols, and after that the Queen of Great Britain, accompanied by James Bond, descended to her nationals on a parachute. This is what makes the groundwork of Great Britain, its integral features which make Britain as it is. Great Britain does not forget anything. Children on hospital beds are a reminder that it was namely in Britain that the first specialized hospital for children emerged. An accent to metallurgy is a reminder that namely the English invented steel 100 years ago. Conductor and percussionist Evelyn Glennie conducting almost a thousand drummers during the show lost hearing at the age of 11, but this fact did not prevent her from becoming a successful musician, because this is Great Britain.

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games showed that technical possibilities, globalization of the world, and common information space haven’t hollowed the British identity, but vice versa, have strengthened it considerably.

Let’s imagine that Ukraine got an opportunity to host the Olympic Games. What would it have offered for its guests if it had 42 billion dollars for preparation? Could it have showed its spirit, essence in a same grandiose and impressive way and presented its history without unnecessary passions and without hushing certain events? Would it have been able to retransmit for the whole world its cultural codes and symbols, making them clear for everyone? But one can find answer to these questions in the opening ceremony of Euro-2012. It was nice and festive, but…