An unexpected technical hitch in Friday’s Sochi opening ceremony, marring an otherwise perfect program, prevented tens of millions of television viewers world-wide from not thoroughly enjoying the show. Despite being treated to a brilliant and spectacular walk-through of 1000 years of stunning Russian culture and (some not so brilliant) history, the expected portrayal of centuries of oppression, massacres and murder of the Russian people under the Tsars and later Stalin didn’t eventuate because someone in charge failed to press the right button in time. Instead, he gave a brief speech declaring the games open and sat down to enjoy the nice bits along with everyone else.
A little misunderstanding with a nearby country in the 1940’s (which resulted in the estimated deaths of 15 million Russian civilians alone) also failed to get a mention. But that was probably because the dispute has long since been patched up and they are all pals again, and buy lots of things like gas from each other and what-not.
Oh yes, one of the “rings failed to open,” and this was seen by some as taking some oblique swipe at Gay rights, at least by one perceptive commentator (me.)
True to form, Channel Ten’s commentator team excelled itself again. Aussie-battlers, clearly still trying to get their heads around this culture thing, making brave but determined efforts with the pronunciation of notoriously difficult Russian words and names. They did however have some success with a few of the non-Russian names, but not a lot.
One commentator struck a big blow for Aussie culture by strongly inferring that War and Peace, which is compulsory reading for Russian school children, should be avoided by Australians at all costs because it is 1200 pages long. Here again we have another telling insight into the recruitment criteria Ten uses for its commentators. And literacy is clearly not one of them.