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The different way of the British

29 July 2012 / 19:07:18  GRReporter
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Vivian Efthimiopoulou is a communications specialist and commented professionally on the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on the website protagon.gr.

One of the things you learn as a communications specialist in organizing major events and massive culture activities, is to appreciate the impact and importance of each event without being influenced by your personal taste. The evening of July 27, however, during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London, proved that it is not necessary for one to be very familiar with the organization of large spectacles, to understand that the British, led by director Danny Boyle, opened a new page in their history.

So far, what we knew as a recipe for the opening ceremony of the Olympics, was the spectacular presentation of the host country's history through a variety of political and historical characters, specific for this country, and easily recognizable to audiences worldwide. The dose of folklore depended directly on the talent of the ceremony director. The greater the talent, the less folklore is used.

The British, however, chose a completely different way, so instead of telling their own story, they decided to present the historical development of their institutions, along with everything that they themselves believe has enabled them to become great.

The director warned us quite early that the British idyllic character, the natural framework in which their culture has evolved, should not fool us. He said it by the words of the crooked slave Caliban from William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest":

"Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not."

Industrial Revolution, democracy, human rights and feminist movements, business freedom, care for the poor through public health, cultural diversity, entering the digital age with the invention and development of the Internet, were the "miracles", the noises which the isle is full of and about which Caliban tells us in the beginning.

And what else are the institutions besides being an instrument? And after they showed us the "instruments", the British explained to us what they have done to them, how they have helped people in their private lives, symbolized by the "typical British home", which appeared at a certain point in the centre of the stadium. At the point of intersection between public and private, within personal freedom, the British developed pop culture, rock music - entirely their symbols, which however became an acquisition to all mankind. Subsequently the opening ceremony kept telling not the history of Britain, but the history of the entire planet.

The British showed their self confidence in regard to institutional frameworks, allowing individual creativity through another powerful and emblematic weapon of theirs - humour. Institutions are so important that it is no problem for anyone to joke a bit with those who represent them, it isn't a problem either for the individuals themselves, nor even for the Queen.

The ceremony ended reminding us of two basic principles: Firstly, democracy is related primarily to the welfare of each individual, who, however, cannot achieve anything alone, and secondly, in democratic societies, there is no incontestable authority. The ignition of the Olympic flame, the highest honour for those entrusted the duty, was done by a group of youths, thus highlighting both these principles. Shortly before that, the Olympic flame was introduced at the stadium not by Britons, but by eight people, who have defended the principles of humanity through their struggles for individual or human rights.

Finally, Vivian Efthimiopoulou says: "Whether the ceremony was perfect (what does this mean?), boring, worse, or more beautiful than "ours", I am not competent to comment or judge. Of course, in the field of communications, there is a fundamental principle: when the audience mirrors itself in the message you are sending, and begins to make comparisons, then your mission is completed and successfully at that. As Antonis Karpetopoulos, a good friend of mine, wrote in Twitter: "The English are wonderful! Modern, pragmatic, self-confident. They are telling you: "We invite you for a while to our city for the Games. We shall say this only once, and you do what you please". And it's true.

Tags: Olympics opening ceremony Vivian Efthimiopoulou
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