Culture | The last word in Canadian stereotypes

The closing ceremonies did a disservice to our cultural identity

If it hadn’t been for the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, I’d probably be somewhere between St. Henri and McGill right now yelling “CANADA” with the lungs of a Viking on fire.  
Let me back up and say outright that I thought the Olympics were, for the most part, a success. Before they began, I resented both the Conservative federal and Liberal provincial governments for hosting the Olympics on aboriginal territory without permission and reallocating funding away from poverty-reduction programs. I was extremely troubled that the Games became an excuse for the federal government to avoid taking responsibility for the human rights violations of Afghan POWs, leading to an illegal prorogation of Parliament. Initially, the Games confused my sense of patriotism in that they distracted the nation from serious issues prevalent throughout Canadian politics.  
But when the men’s and women’s hockey teams both captured gold medals, my household was sent into the type of nationalistic fervour that either causes chronic high-fiving or starts crusades. Though the Games had begun with an extremely shaky start, highlighted by Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death, international praise began to accumulate, with certain agencies calling these the best Games ever hosted. In the three hours between Crosby’s goal and the closing ceremonies, we had concluded that the Games went as well as they could have gone in that they positively improved Canadian cultural identity. Thus, in their entirety, the Games had positively contributed to my notions of my Canadian self. 
Then came the closing ceremonies.  
Ostensibly, the closing ceremonies, planned not by a Canadian but by an Australian named David Atkins, hoped to poke fun at some Canadian stereotypes, and also feature performances by prominent Canadian musicians. This concept fell short. During his speech, VANOC’s CEO, John Furlong made it abundantly clear that he had never read the lines written in front of him, which removed any authenticity his words could have had. This was followed by very awkward, un-funny monologues from William Shatner, Catherine O’Hara, and Michael Fox, which touched on such comedic gems as Canadians having sex in canoes, pissing in snow, and public health care.  
Ba-boom.  
Add a cabaret of Canadian mounties alongside giant cardboard hockey cut-outs with floating beavers and moose, and I found myself mentally calculating everything in my house that was red or white so I could remember to burn it. The ceremonies concluded with performances by such bands as Hedley, Simple Plan, Avril Lavigne, and Nickelback, and I retired to the backyard to find twigs and dry leaves.  
A friend of mine recently likened Canada to a really great yet timid person who’s too modest to realize how awesome she is. Well, in the closing ceremonies, we may as well have given that girl 60 ounces of Drambuie and let her practice her awful stand-up with a soundtrack of Much Dance 2008.  
The Canadian talent that was omitted from the closing ceremonies is disturbing. Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Feist; all of these bands would have been far more than adequate in performing in front of an international audience. I don’t think I’d be going too far in accusing the organizers of pussyfooting around finding real Canadian talent indicative of the breadth of this country’s creativity. These closing ceremonies even left the 74-year-old Quebecois man who lives in my heart screaming something about “where the hell was Céline Dion or Cirque du Soleil?”  
The 2010 closing ceremonies mattered, in that they compromised the feeling of patriotism that had been established in the 17 days of the Vancouver Olympics. Our culture, I believe, deserve better representation than having Simple Plan wail out “Your Love Is A Lie.”   


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