We’re excited for London’s Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, so in eager anticipation, we’ve been checking out reactions to Beijing’s iconic 2008 Opening Ceremony to tide us over. Although the Beijing Opening Ceremony garnered an overwhelming number of positive reactions from around the world, Ai Weiwei, Chinese dissident artist, architect, activist, and outspoken social critic, and a designer of the 2008 Olympics’ famous Bird’s Nest stadium, provided a completely different perspective on his blog. Chinese authorities shut down the blog in 2009, but his posts have been published in Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009, translated into English by Lee Ambrozy—the most complete, public documentation of the original Chinese blog available in any language.
Here’s Ai Weiwei’s post regarding the 2008 Opening Ceremony.
Closing the Opening Ceremony
POSTED ON AUGUST 8, 2008
Those incompetent tools perverted the Olympic opening ceremony into the archetypal example of bogus “traditional” rubbish, a blasphemous “spirit of liberty,” a visual crap pile of phony affection and hypocritical unction. Offensive noise pollution and a monarchical mentality have been revived as a vaudeville variety show. It was the ultimate rendering of a culture under centralized state power, an encyclopedia of spiritual subjugation. Before we can stand up straight, we are heavily bent over once again.
We sacrificed the cheer and good will of the entire population in exchange for a worthless fantasy, a soulless political whitewash, and a hopelessly humorless display of puffery and helpless bravado. It was a phony scene of cultural prosperity, one that runs counter to reality…
As for the performance of those directors and their undermined sense of public morals, I’ve said it before: it’s like savoring the flavor of a fly—a complete, aggressive, and overbearing housefly, from head to tail.
Such is your fate, and you must own up to it. That’s your face bearing the revolting smile, and you will be remembered for leaving your shameful mark.