The Rest of Us

Not long ago, the Olympic committee produced a series of commercials entitled “The Best of Us”.  One such commercial displays giant sized Olympic athletes, each standing on their home continent, holding an enormous rope.  Bracing their mighty feet against buildings which mark the crowning achievements in architecture and engineering of their respective civilizations (the rest of us), they proceed to pull on their ropes, thus bringing the continents of the world together and restoring Pangaea. 

In Canada, we have been equally guilty of amateur athlete worship, treating our athletes as something more than human.  From ads that show snowboarders soaring into space to touch some celestial body, to the attempted religious fervour of the “I Believe” campaign, our athletes are increasingly portrayed as being more than human. At first glance, this appears an abrasive contrast to our nation’s “second place rocks” status, but perhaps that is what allows us to regard our athletic achievers as being greater than ourselves.   Our encouragement and financial support, rather than being received with humility and gratitude, are demanded as worship and tribute.  We are led to believe that by playing sports for the rest of their lives, these spry teens and young adults are contributing more to us than we are to them.  It is high time to replace the question: “Do You Believe?” with a much more profound and appropriate slogan:  “Thank You”. 

Believe What You Will…

If you listen carefully, you can hear it. There is a quiet buzz across this country, from coast to coast to coast, almost, but not quite muted by the trumpets of manufactured Canadian pride and Olympic spirit being blown right next to our ears. The opening ceremonies were just last night, but the real games began a long time ago.

According to media reports, “The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra refused an invitation to record music for the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremonies because Vanoc wanted other musicians to ‘mime’ the performance.” This is reminiscent of China’s decision to have a cute kid lip-sync a song sung by a more homely, but talented child. Maybe we should replace the orchestra with cute six year olds like they did.

Tom Mills of the ‘Sault Star’reports that people in are complaining of being “utterly sick of the Olympics already, or at least of the marathon ad campaign by CTV.” He describes one friend’s “desire to have Canadian actor Donald Sutherland… subjected to treatments that probably are banned under the Geneva Convention. You torture us, Donald, and we’ll torture you right back.” If his friend knew that Nikki Yanofsky was going to top off the campaign by singing “I believe,” he might not have considered her a legal combatant either.

Commercial manipulation by business and government, of course, is hardly unique to the Olympics. There is, however, lurking beneath the mass production of faux nationalism, a criminal aspect to the games in their modern form, one that dirties the hand of any country, government, or company that chooses to affiliate themselves. According to the Associated Press: “The IOC had been talking to Ottawa for two years hoping for help to enforce the Olympic body’s anti-doping policies. But most performance-enhancing substances aren’t illegal in Canada and the country’s privacy laws restrict what authorities can tell Olympic officials.” The report states that The IOC’s medical commissioner “said last month that negotiating an agreement was difficult because Canada does not have anti-doping legislation. That’s something the IOC will require from future host countries as a prerequisite for staging the games.”

Talk about home field advantage. Perhaps this will be the year that Canada brings home more gold than ever. With prices soaring, our timing couldn’t be better.

In ancient Greece, when the Olympics first came into being, any man was allowed to participate, without having to qualify, without government funding, and without having to appear in a McDonald’s commercial. They did not compete for their country’s glory, but for their own, and for the love of sport. They did not achieve the super-human feats of today’s athletes, because they were humans, competing against one another, instead of becoming vessels for a competition between pharmaceutical companies. Today’s Olympics are a bedlam of commercialized nationalism, drugs, and the relentless exploitation of the human spirit. I Believe every Canadian knows this deep down inside, and all of the ugly red mittens in the world won’t change that.

THE PRESS CONFERENCE

Episode 2
THE PRESS CONFERENCE
Good evening taxpayers, I’m the Mansbridge. Tonight, we take you live to a surprise press conference being held by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The conference is an unexpected move by the P.M., and many are speculating on what he might say. Some suspect this might be an unfair campaign tactic by Harper. We go now live to CBC correspondent Neil Macdonald who is on the scene.

Neil, what can you tell us about this conference? Is the Prime Minister starting off his campaign trail with a bang?

Peter are you there?
I’m always here, Neil. What can you tell us

about the conference?

Peter the air here tonight is one of secrecy and speculation. No one from the prime minister’s office is talking…
But we do know that several representatives from the Canada Space Agency are here; although the reason for their presence remains unclear.
Now Neil, is the – Peter I’m sorry

but the conference is about to start….

Alright Neil, I’ll see you when you get back and we can discuss your future. Take it away!

Uh, thanks Peter. Here’s the Prime Minister now…

 

Thank you all for coming. I know many of you are wondering why I have called you here this evening. Today is the dawn of a new day for Canada. Today, Canada enters the 21st century. Today, Canada embarks on a brave new endeavor…
…an enterprise more bold than the discovery of Atlantis. And when Canada has achieved this monumental feat, no one will challenge her, from Greenland to Columbia! It is my great honour to announce that Canada shall set foot on the Moon by the year 2012! (Gasp from the crowd) We will go to the Moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard. I will now open the floor to questions from the press.
Is this an election ploy?
No, going to the Moon is a non-partisan

issue that all Canadians can support, like sponsoring Olympic athletes.

Can you achieve this without

a majority government?

Well, if we don’t it will be

Michael Ignatieff’s fault,

maybe Jack Layton’s too.

We have always been a humble, apologetic nation of peace-keepers. Why go to the Moon?

It is time to show the world what

apologetic Peace-keepers are capable of. The world thinks we live in a cold, white, barren wasteland. They will think twice when they see us standing on the Moon!

“I want the international media to have a chance to ask questions…”
“Uh, well then, Canada to the Moon!”