Saturday, August 09, 2008

Goose-stepping morons like you should try reading books instead of burning them

Saw the opening ceremony last night. Made me feel very warm about China in general and specifically Olympics. Some regret at cheering Olympic Torch relay protestors. Only jarring note was when 8 athletes run in the Olympic Flag (5 interlocking rings on white1), then hand if off to 8 Chinese Army soldiers who do a very robot / precision creepy goosestep (R. foot into air, swing arm, R. foot down, L. foot up, arm swing...) then walk it in. Couldn't decide whether to laugh, or get upset. Currently reading collection of Orwell essays. Orwell:

One rapid but fairly sure guide to the social atmosphere of a country is the parade-step of the army. A military parade is really a kind of ritual dance, something like a ballet, expressing a certain philosophy of life. The goose-step, for instance, is one of the most horrible sights in the world, far more terrifying than a dive bomber. It is simply an affirmation of naked power: contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face.* Its ugliness is part of its essence, for what it is saying is "Yes, I am ugly, and you daren't laugh at me," like the bully who makes faces at his victim. Why is the goose-step not used in England? There are, heaven knows, plenty of army officers who would be only too glad to introduce some such thing. It is not used because the people in the street would laugh.

Emphasis, Orwell's.

1. Reminds me of when IOC sued "Legend of the Five Rings" for having five interlocking rings on the backs of cards for a trading card game (a la Magic).

*: A la 1984.

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