Gold, Silver and Yawns

she doesn't just blow saxophoneI’ve tried to be gracious about the Olympics. Or at least, tried not to bitch too much. After all, the event has been giving excitement and entertainment to millions. About the only times I’ve cracked have been when people assume that their own enthusiasm is replicated universally. It’s happened often on BBC news.

Because not only do I have no enthusiasm for the Olympics, I have almost zero interest as well. I say “almost” because even I can’t help noticing what is going on, and, say, having heard about badminton players attempting tactical failure, my brain registers that for a while.

But the main thing is that I don’t get it; and the main thing I don’t get is “we“. People I had not previously heard of win medals and stand on their places on the podium. Well, that’s very nice for them. I can appreciate the achievement — after all, it’s the absolute worldwide peak of their sport. What I don’t feel at all is that I should care more if one of them happens to have the same brand of passport as me.

It’s that human tribalism thing. I don’t think I have it. I suppose I have a certain fellow feeling for certain types of people: musicians, music fans, scientists, engineers, freethinkers. But to me that doesn’t seem the same. We have no flag. And I still wouldn’t care who got a medal. (Or a Mercury Prize.)

Patriotism has always been a tool of the politicians, and not just as a method for getting young men to line up and kill each other. You can see it happening now in Britain with the current Olympics, as Prime Minister David Cameron basks in the borrowed glow of other people’s success. It’s his chance to reinforce a sense of national unity, his claim that “we’re all in this together”. Are we fuck.


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