This article was originally published in The Grape, Oberlin's best and only alternative newspaper.
If there were to be a t-shirt commemorating the Sochi games thus far it would probably say something like: “I went to the Sochi Olympics and am scarred for life.” Yes, the best exports from Sochi seem to be disgruntled journalists, poisonous urine colored tap water, and open manholes threatening to plunge you into the depths of Sochi for eternity. But if you haven’t been following, let me recap some feats performed by the world’s most pristine physical specimens. Yes, let me tell you about the Opening Ceremonies.
I feel like I don’t really need to say anything besides the fact that the choreographer from the Ceremonies was the one and only Daniel Ezralow, the genius being the awe-inspiring “Turn Off the Dark” Spiderman Broadway musical. And of course, by awe-inspiring I mean more of “Ahh!! Inspiring?” because of the very real physical and emotional threat his choreography poses to your livelihood.
But let’s set the scene. You tune into NBC’s live stream a few seconds late, just in time to catch Matt Lauer (Bob Costas had raging pink eye) saying, “a lot of these images might not be recognizable to you.” Okay! We’re off to a great start. Suddenly you are enveloped by a warm, melodic, honey butter voice. Wait, why is this voice so suited for saying the word “winter” in a cooing baritone, so comfortable with the artic setting in which this voiceover rests? Is this a deleted scene from Game of Thrones? No. But it is Peter Dinklage, who with every repetition of the word “Russia” seems to get slower and breathier. Are you running out of oxygen, Peter? Did they make you record mid-luge?
The goal of the ceremonies is to tell Russia’s history through a series of “dreams.” Whatever started as remotely dream-like veered into nightmare territory real fast. And this is no ordinary nightmare. This is a never-ending acid trip, being shaken awake mid Ambien sleep, having Enter the Void stuck in your DVD player for the rest of time with no remote in site.
The ceremony was equal parts Avatar 3D as it was a sinister Suessical nightmare, a trek to all the places you never wanted to go. At least Putin, the grounding force of these events, is there to provide a flat-line and weirdly suggestive smile as they cut to him during the old favorite “mechanical nightmare horse nibbles on fake grass amidst floating island.” Classic.
Then of course there were the animatronic and nightmare inducing, NSFW mascots. The eerily lifelike “scare bear” as it’s now dubbed, an oversized Charmin bear sans those pesky toilet paper particles, waves along side the “rabbit” and “cheetah?” all gazing into your soul with those too round eyes.
You must at this point know about the Olympic Ring fiasco. That unlucky Olympic attempt that scored a meager 4/5, the fifth member paralyzed in fetal position in the face of public performance. Thankfully, Russian television handled the situation with grace, casually substituting the live version with the perfect rehearsal version for us viewers at home. Even better, they relished in their fake success by tweeting a picture of all five rings open, captioning it “awesome – snowflake Winter Olympic Rings.” Whatever you need to do to cope with failing on the world stage is okay, Russia. Shrouding the truth kinda seems to be your thing, so just go with it.
Alas, the ring wasn’t the only thing that couldn’t get up during the ceremonies. An Austrian athlete face-plated mid Olympic walk, a terrific foreshadowing for his hand/eye/body coordination that marks him as a world-class athlete. Way to stick the landing. Even the royals had their eyes turned downcast, Princess Anne handling her boredom/legitimate fear by reading J.K. Rowling’s “Casual Vacancy” during the entirety of the ceremonies. When asked later as to her choice of book she was quoted saying “I was desperate. And it only made me miss Harry.” The ceremonies were really Putin you to sleep, huh Anne?
While it’s fair to say I can understand the Cyrillic alphabet better than I grasped any of the opening ceremonies, at least the games are still going, so we can root for those two athletes we know by name.