The drone of London 2012
All will be well and fine and good and the only thing that matters is who can run the fastest, jump the highest, throw the farthest and compel a horse to complete an obstacle course in the most elegant fashion.
These are the two weeks when all eyes are on the parts of London that haven’t been obscured by metallic fish, temporary police stations, VIP car parks and corporate logos the size of houses.
The hobos who’ve fallen victim to London’s excesses, the families of eight living in a one-bedroom flat, the kids rotting in jail because they stole a pair of trainers, the tenants kicked out of their homes to satisfy greedy landlords and the small businesses losing trade in traffic jams while gleaming cars whizz past in their own dedicated lanes; all will be ignored.
For this is the Olympic Games, a showcase of the world’s finest physical specimens. They will swim and they will pedal and they will slalom and they will shoot, they will lift heavy things and they will walk awkwardly on their heels. It’s what they do, and they want to show you how good they are at doing it.
The organisers want to use these feats of physical strength and endurance to show you how blissful and perfect the city of London is, so that maybe one day you might be tempted to visit, rent an office or hire a British firm to make your weapons.
The real London, the city that hosts stark inequality, fails to support its poorest peoples and provides a safe cloak of protection for corporate abuses, will be hidden away.
Instead we’ll see the sponsors. The sponsors that want only to promote their image, their brand, to cover-up their crimes and paint over the whopping cracks in their reputations. These are good brands doing good things, for how else could they be plastered over the arenas where so much good and joyous sporting activity is taking place?
Coca Cola, Dow Chemicals, Visa, McDonald’s, Procter and Gamble, EDF, Lloyds TSB, British Petroleum, Rio Tinto. The world’s biggest sporting event is financially backed by a ‘who’s who?’ of capitalism’s worst offenders.
They all want you to forget about the trade union representatives they’ve murdered, the fatal industrial accidents they haven’t accepted responsibility for, the freedoms of speech they’ve stifled, the harmful ingredients they’ve lied about, the animals they’ve experimented on, the anti-pollution laws they’ve lobbied against, the public money they’ve squandered on bonuses for corrupt executives, the oceans they’ve polluted, or the rainforests they’ve destroyed.
The Olympics were founded on principles of respect, excellence and friendship. But given the dearth of these principles evident in the morally vacuous actions of its sponsors, how can any athlete endorsing them have a single shred of respect for themselves?
Even the athletes’ own personal sponsors that have funded their sporting journey will, from this day forth and for the duration of the Olympic Games, be allowed not a squeak of attention.
Protected by draconion legislation and an army of Thought Police, the official Olympic sponsors will have free access to our senses.
Even by capitalism’s own low standard of fairness, this a step beyond.
All 14,000 athletes, representing 204 different nations in 26 different sports staged across 32 different venues. All ordered to stay quiet, co-operate, smile, wave and compete.
We, the spectators, will sit and wonder at their physical exploits. But we must also hope that the sentient spirit of a Muhammad Ali, a Tommie Smith or a John Carlos is lurking within the corridors of the athletes’ village.
For wouldn’t it be apt indeed if, in this age of unparalleled corporate control, London 2012 was used as a golden opportunity. Not to win a race, but to loudly interrupt the seemingly unstoppable drone of the corporate message.
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