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Pop-culture questions after the Olympics opening ceremony

The verdict on yesterday’s Olympic Games opening ceremonies has been mixed, with some describing the spectacle as quirky, while others are calling London’s kickoff party cringe-worthy. Detractors say it was simply too British, with Kenneth Branagh’s chimney-sweep soliloquy and Mary Poppins chasing foot-and-mouth diseased demons away with her umbrella. From what I saw, there were more pressing pop-culture problems with the pageant than the over-utilization of the Union Jack.

A snippet of the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’?

In the first few moments of the pre-ceremony movie, a very brief snippet of “God Save the Queen” was played. While the Sex Pistols are British icons and the song is exceptional, its lyrics are not favourable toward the monarchy ("fascist regime") or the English people ("there is no future in England’s dreaming"). Johnny Rotten has said he penned the classic track as a love letter to his home country; however, art is subjective and this once BBC-banned song will always be viewed as an English kiss-off. Another Pistols’ track, “Pretty Vacant,” was also used. Again, I always thought the subject of the song was the British people; perhaps the organizers couldn’t locate songs that portrayed their own subjects in a positive light?

The Exorcist theme? The Cosby Show? Shrek?

I thought I was hearing things when The Exorcist theme played during the Peter Pan/Mary Poppins sequence. I get it that the kids were in their beds, alluding to Linda Blair’s possessed imp in the 1973 film, but nothing about The Exorcist is British. The author of the original work and director of the movie are both American. Maybe the opening ceremony wasn’t too British after all, as I also saw clips of The Cosby Show and Shrek. I can’t believe they couldn’t find clips to represent what they wanted to convey sourced from British works. I’ll just put on a loud sweater, have a pudding pop and let it slide. 

Was Paul McCartney lip-synching at first?

When living legend McCartney played out the ceremonies, I could have sworn that before his crystal-clear rendition of “Hey Jude” chimed over the Olympic Stadium, I heard a garbled mess. Did the pre-recorded track fail, forcing McCartney to bail on the planned course of events? McCartney took to Twitter: “There was some talk of maybe being to playback but we decided against it and went live, live, live!” Damage control or not, the addition of McCartney was the crowning jewel of the shindig.

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