The Production Number Heard 'Round the World
(Posted by guest blogger Steve Hendrix) The least happy person in the world this morning is the person in charge of planning the Olympic opening ceremony for Vancouver in 2010. After what we saw in Beijing last night, that job became about as thankless as following your young classmate Judy Garland in the school talent show or being commissioned to paint the ceiling of the church next door to the Sistine Chapel.
But it's not just the production designers of every future Olympics who are feeling hopeless today. The politicians, captains of industry and generals of those countries--of every country--are also in shock. They know last night's spectacle kicked off more than a sporting event; it feels like we just saw the opening act of the Chinese Century.
Now we understand why China was so determined to get these games, and why they have worked with such cold resolve for so long to prepare for them. They knew if the world would give them its full attention for just a moment, they could shatter forever China's image as a sleeping dragon. In one evening, for an estimated four BILLION viewers, they made laughable any notion of China as the merely the origin of cheap toys, bad action movies and take-out food.
Beijing rolled out a display of creativity, technical prowess, discipline, cultural pride and depth of history like it was a military parade. More than 15,000 performers dancing with flawless precision laid bare the power of population. We are a quarter of the globe's people, China said, watch us move as one. The result was beautiful, graceful, exhilarating and infinitely moving (heck, even I felt the pride of being Chinese), but it was also intimidating. And purposefully so.
The message China has been waiting so patiently to deliver was a clear as a gong and as blinding as a sky lit by colored fire from horizon to horizon: We are ready to assume our place at the top of the world order. Let the games begin.
By Steve Hendrix |
August 9, 2008; 9:12 AM ET
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