With all of the negative news around this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, it’s finally nice to hear about something a bit more up-lifting. Like the various bits of rubbish bobbing throughout Rio’s Marina da Glória, bribery, poverty, doping scandals, and shoddy construction work have equally polluted the headlines in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics opening ceremony.
So Rio’s emphasis on sustainability within its initial ceremony might at first seem to provide us with something a bit more refreshing to celebrate. But can this emphasis ever really grow within the blazing cultural upheaval currently engulfing Brazil?
“Something Special on a Shoestring”
Rio’s 2016 Olympics opening ceremony was explicitly designed to cost-less than the extravagant displays of London and Beijing.
China’s hardcore drumlines were replaced with samba beats on inflatable, metallic bags; London’s towering industrial silos instead became intricate light shows projected onto the flat floor of the stadium. Although the organisers have yet to release the final costs of the ceremony (admittedly, not a particularly encouraging sign) – they have at least paid lip-service to the inherent issues of a cash-strapped country hosting one of the biggest, most-expensive sports competitions on the planet. At the same time, having each of the competitors push seeds into a soil totem while transforming the Olympic rings into a concentric forest also highlights the ecological imperative driving the event’s narrative.
As a work of entertainment, the opening ceremony’s focus makes sense: combatting global warming and ensuring ecological preservation are palatable to Western television audiences and moves the news agenda on from grittier aspects of Brazilian life (from violence in the favelas to widespread fraud in government). There is certainly, an argument for using the ceremony as a canvas on which can be painted an image of society that Brazil wishes the world to see i.e. we are a vibrant, cultural mixing pot with a sustainable, green heart.
Making a Sustainable 2016 Olympics opening ceremony … at what cost?
The 2016 Olympics opening ceremony encapsulates an idealised spirit and tries to establish a country’s place on the world stage. However, the reports that indicate there were plans for Brazilian fashion model Gisele Bundchen to be mugged on stage as part of the ceremony suggest a desire to show a different, real side of Brazilian life.
Although this part of the ceremony was dropped it leads to a question: would acknowledging some of the socio-economic issues in the country make the ceremony’s message more powerful and realistic? Did a ceremony based solely on an idealised view of the future simply bury Brazil’s real problems beneath a quickly browning layer of foliage?
At Hook Research, we would love to know what you think ….