What We Learnt With Ashley 003: The Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

What We Learnt With Ashley 003: The Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

Greasy men, designer tracksuits, dancing pirates, Spliffstar (probably); welcome to lesson three of ‘What We Learnt’!

This time we’re learning all about the opening ceremony of the global sporting spectacle that is the Olympic Games. The paradise of Rio, in sunny Brazil is the host this year so it’s fair to say we we could (most probably) expect a carnival atmosphere, Zika virus, fat Ronaldo and thong bikinis.

What we got was something much different.

To open the ceremony Paulinho da Viola performed the Brazilian national anthem with an acoustic guitar sat atop an oversized contact lens; I’m still unsure if it can be deemed offensive or not. Diff’rent strokes and that.

Following on from this grand / partially sighted opening came the (potted) history of Brazil; starting from the dawn of time no less!

What have I let myself in for? Apparently a gang of interpretative dance class students rolling around the floor pretending to be microbes then prancing around like trees flailing in the wind saying ‘look at me I’m a rainforest!’ Their parents are bitterly disappointed and, at this point, so am I.

Fast forward beyond tribesmen dancing on elastic bands and we get to the Portuguese pirates happily cheered by the crowd as they bounce about on boogie boards like the cast of HMS Pinafore. They gamely bring their team of slaves to the proverbial Olympic table who are shown a little less love from the crowd; To be fair though, these slaves aren’t really doing much except spin a wheel and shadow box about the gaff… This clearly wasn’t Antonio Tavares’ expedition; he would have them working harder than a Disney animation sweatshop and for half the day rates.

Literally no clue if this Pirate is appropriate or not in a historical context.

Literally no clue if this Pirate is appropriate or not in a historical context.

Moving to the turn of the 19th century we see Alberto Santos-Dumont with his cardboard airplane flying over Brazil. The man playing Dumont looks suspiciously like former Liverpool Goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar.

We’re caught up to modern day now; the rainforest is concreted over and everyone is dressed like they’re from a Hype Williams video whilst dancing on its grave. All this dancing about makes me thankful for Britain’s stiff upper-lip.


And lo! The realisation; the country which has violated its own land / people / tax payers is now lecturing us on global warming… Basically word is we’re all going to drown but seeing as it’s being translated to us by Dame Judy Dench it feels as though we’ll be okay.

Never mind our imminent demise though: Here come the athletes! They appear to be led out by some fuccboi riding a Laurence Llewelyn Bowen designed rickshaw straight out of a Busta Rhymes video… seriously, was this event actually directed by Hype Williams? One of these rickshaws definitely looks like it’s being captained by Spliffstar.

Busta Rhymes eponymous hype-man Spliffstar tucking into a traditional Brazilian meal post ceremony.

Busta Rhymes eponymous hype-man Spliffstar tucking into a traditional Brazilian meal post ceremony.

The outfits, regardless, are a definite treat for the eyes: Top marks to Armenia on coming out with a team of middle-age men with middle-age spreads stuffed into biscuit coloured blazers. Cambodia put in a strong performance too; looking as though they sent a load of Prince Tribute acts to fling javelins about the gaff. Dominica turfed up wearing a hodgepodge of Wetherspoon carpets fashioned into waistcoats and Italy were all about in their all black tracksuits. It basically looked like they were either gonna re-plaster your bathroom or bang out a badman grime set on Rinse FM… Meanwhile Team GB arrive in Brazil in the timelessly impractical combination of shirt shorts and pea coats proving for the millionth time that literally no-one in Great Britain understands how to to dress for half decent weather.

Flag bearers are the real winners in this game however: Leading the Americans out into the proverbial / possibly literal coliseum in typically ill-fitting suit was part-time criminal, full-time salmon Michael Phelps whilst Tonga’s flag bearer was so completely greased up it looked like he fell over at a bukkake party. It was Turkmenistan who undoubtedly took gold with the outfits however; their mascot rolling through looking like a pissed up winter-time Hugh Hefner pursued by a gang of open golf champions on the razz.

If I were there I’d definitely want to be in one of those countries with three other team mates; we’d have great / tacky outfits, I’d probably get to hold a flag, nobody would know where I was from and we’d probably be invaded by USA by the end of the evening’s festivities… Or I’d be one of those kids with the cool as fuck plants… I definitely wouldn’t want to be one of those nonces dressed in a poncho with an arrow on it, or a prat on a bicycle; I hope they pull out in front of a bus.

Maybe that plant pot carrying kid sounded more exciting in the initial pitch?

Maybe that plant pot carrying kid sounded more exciting in the initial pitch?

Why are there so many speeches and oaths and songs and flag carrying? It’s been literally hours. I want to go to bed!

Finally: the torch! I always like to think there’s Edward Woodward shouting ‘Oh, Jesus Christ!’ inside the cauldron when they light it and that the whole purpose of the torch ceremony is so the host nation will have a good harvest. Bloody Olympic pagans.

Apparently Pelé couldn’t make it as he had prior engagements with the Viagra company.

Fair play to Brazil all around though really. They were like “we did it on a budget and made it really environmentally friendly” but still banged out a load of fireworks akin to an air-raid or a Coldplay concert albeit with less crying vegans. It was probably enough to leave a(nother) smog cloud over Rio for the next decade.

Anyway forget all that. Finally it’s over and we’re back to the studio with Sir Steve ‘I’m still relevant’ Redgrave.

Fuck this I’m goin’ bed now.

So here’s What We Learnt:

• We’re all going to die, soon! From drowning, Judy Dench said so.

• Spliffstar is still alive, well and riding a rickshaw around Rio.

• The dancers are all orphans now, Madonna owns about seven.

• Michael Phelps has now started his own ‘City Of God’ style drugs ring in the Olympic village.

• Burundi stole the rickshaws so they can compete in cycling competitions chucking plant pots out the back like a game of Mario Kart.

• Pelé was going to pop down but was too busy shagging anything that moved.

• JD Wetherspoons are the official sponsors of Team Dominica – Purple City Soufflé are now Team Dominica.

• Hype Williams will literally direct anything you can pay him for; from the Earth’s environmental collapse to cultural / sporting zeitgeists and Spliffstar’s new video. No job too big or small.

• Hype Williams will never go out of fashion.

Learn more / less from Ashley on Twitter: @Only_Ashley