The World Reports: Sochi's Opening Ceremony, Tolstoy vs Tchaikovsky, and that McDonald's Commercial
Day 1 of Sochi's Olympics is probably already over. Word is, we British Columbians are basically a day behind. The Opening Ceremonies were this morning (starting at 8 a.m. and lasting longer than the Oscars) and flipped back-and-forth between Russian romanticism – scored by the literary influence from Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy, as well as classical musician Pyotr Tchaikovsky – and Russian imperialism, although it stayed tasteful and grand and Great, courtesy of Peter and Catherine.
There was a glitch, yes. We'll call it a malfunction. Some chose to call it a FAIL. But it should be noted, the Opening Cermonies' special effects were amazing. That bit, where a few actors stood on the flat arena's surface and the lighting made it look like they were commanding a black-and-white cartoon ship through stormy seas... that was incredible. It made Vancouver's whales look like a green screen in 1984. There was a flying girl, an A-Z journey through the most famous Russian things and people, and a particularly catchy skit with old Soviet cars, an apparently raging 60s pop music scene, and gigantic holograms of skyscrapers that were lapped by a Hammer and Sickle.
It was Vladimir Putin's dream, and the Russian president then opened the 2014 Winter Games from his seat atop the proceedings. (If you're like me, you also discovered that Vladimir Putin actually speaks.)
Tonight – which is actually tomorrow in Sochi – the 2014 Games gives out its first medals. Canadians Mark McMorris and Charles Reid are into the semifinals for Snowboard Slopestyle, and will look to join Sebastian Toutant and Maxence Parrot, who have both clinched spots in Saturday's final.
Women's hockey also gets going, with Hayley Wickenheiser and Team Canada taking on Switzerland. (Team USA takes on Finland on Saturday, as well.)
The Chive has probably become the best website in the world, according to The Chive.
On Saturday, the site posted the "bad/hilarious" photos from journalists in Sochi, who arrived to apparently find their hotel rooms either incomplete or in shambles, unfinished buildings, and bathroom stalls with two toilets.
BBC Moscow chief Kevin Bishop also posting the following photo, which shows just how confident Vladimir Putin is in his own welcomeness:
Google sort of took a stand against Russia's anti-gay (propaganda) laws with its rainbow coloured, Olympic-theme doodle on Thursday:
According to ESPN, Google wants the doodle to stand for itself and will not really be making any official statement about it.
Or, they could have gone the AT&T way:
"AT&T has a long and proud history of support for the LGBT community in the United States and everywhere around the world where we do business. We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere. Russia's law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it's harmful to a diverse society.
"We celebrate the diversity of all Olympic athletes, their fans, Russian residents and all people the world over – including and, especially, our employees and their loved ones.
"As the games begin, we're here to support and inspire American athletes who've worked hard and sacrificed much to achieve their dreams. We also want to be on record with our support for the LGBT community, and we hope that others involved with the Olympic Games will do the same."
If you watched NBC's delayed coverage of the Opening Ceremonies, then you saw some pretty incredible commercials, from insurance companies to this one from McDonald's:
And we also saw Coca-Cola double down on their somehow controversial Super Bowl ad, which saw several different people sing America, The Beautiful in several different languages.
As I mentioned, much of Sochi's Opening Ceremony centered around the romantic writing of Tolstoy, and there was a memorable bit on Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.
With that, Slate writer Simon Doonan called Putin's Games 'The Gayest Olympics Ever'.
"Sorry, Vlad. Sochi's opening ceremony was theatrical, flamboyant, and fabulously haughty," wrote Doonan.
"How gay is Russia? Sorry Vlad, but it's far gayer than you might acknowledge or wish. Russia is Tchaikovsky gay. Mussorgsky gay. Nijinsky gay. Ivan The Terrible gay. Diaghilev gay. Eisenstein gay. Erte gay. When I say gay, I mean the very best of gay. I mean inspired, dramatic, flamboyant, theatrical and fabulously haughty. I mean Rudolph Nureyev gay."
To my knowledge, #ShutUpMattLauer didn't become a trending Twitter blast. But the Huffington Post did pick on NBC a little bit. They make it pretty easy.
"There is probably nothing more important to NBC than the Olympics. Unfortunately for the network, this year's Games are shaping up to be the most controversial in years, and that could cause NBC a giant headache – especially its news division.
"NBC badly wants viewers tuning in, and it's a good bet that more will turn in if there's a sense that the Games are going well. But there many things that are patently not going well, and both "Today" and "NBC Nightly News" will be the targets of intensive scrutiny for how they cover the seemingly endless string of controversies that are plaguing these Games before they've even begun.
"The Human Rights Campaign, for instance, has promised it will be tracking the levels of coverage NBC devotes to Russia's notorious anti-LGBT laws, with daily reports posted on its website. The organization is looking for continuing, primetime attention to the controversy."
(The Huffington Post also compiled a list of the Opening Ceremonies' creepiest moments. Number 1? "Wasn't Communism a Blast?")