China has not been at the top of my “Must Make Friends With” list since, well, ever. There’s something about ruthless authoritarian governments that treat people like mindless, sub-human pets that tends to get my goat. But even I have to admit that last night’s opening ceremony for the Olympics was pretty flippin’ impressive. On one hand, yeah, I know that the entire thing was nothing more than a splashy piece of pure, Grade-A communist propaganda. I don’t believe for a second that a single member of the National People’s Congress gives a rolling rat’s ass about a “harmonious society” or “one world, one dream” or any of the other painfully saccharine slogans they’ve cynically tacked on to the Games to put a friendly face on an Orwellian mug. And sure, I realize that with a budget of $40 billion, almost anything short of a moon shot is possible.
Still, I’ve gotta say that last night’s program got me right right where I live. I’m the kinda guy who gets misty just hearing the Schindler’s List theme song. Stray kittens put a lump in my throat the size of an eight-ball. And sweet-faced, oppressed Asian kids running around in glowing electric body stockings to form the shape of a giant dove? Game over, man. I got verklempt at the giant globe, I choked up at the little girl flying through the air beneath the kite, I actually “Oooohed” out loud at the thousands of martial artists doing their synchronized Jackie Chan impressions. And the umbrellas that unfolded to reveal faces from kids in every nation? It was shameless, hypocritical, blatant manipulation – and I lapped it up.
If I ever have kids, I’m gonna be the world’s biggest pushover. All they’ll have to do is hum the theme song from Shindler’s List and make the form of a giant dove. Game over, man.