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Did the Beijing Opening Ceremony Finally Make Opening Ceremonies Cool Again?

Photo: Getty Images

Before this year’s Olympics began, we heard a lot of friends and online commentators complaining about the Games, and particularly about opening ceremonies, which have often been stupid and were memorably called “totalitarian gay pride parades” by Gawker. We tended to skip opening ceremonies ourselves, because they always just seem so lame and pageanty. But then Friday’s opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was seen by the largest audience ever in the U.S. for a foreign-set opening ceremony. And guess what? It was fucking amazing. We’ve never seen anything like it.

What was your favorite part of the ceremony? The glowing, twinkling Olympic rings peeling off the floor and rising up, magically, into the air? The 147-meter-long LED screen that unrolled in the middle of the stadium? The drummers with the awesome red glowsticks? The incredible wood blocks that undulated like waves, sprouted flowers, and then popped open to reveal people underneath? The 2,008 glowing t’ai chi dudes? The taikonauts? The enormous globe with people somehow running on it upside down? Li Ning floating through the air to light the torch? The jaw-dropping fireworks, which turned the Bird’s Nest stadium into another addition to our Scariest Vaginas of History list?

It just goes to show you that when you give one of the century’s great cinematic geniuses, Zhang Yimou, millions and millions of dollars, and put him in charge of 15,000 performers raised in a totalitarian society, you can really make something magical. (“Well, we have the people,” Zhang shrugged when asked about the staggering population of the ceremony.) We were even impressed with NBC’s coverage, which mixed decent commentary from Matt Lauer and Bob Costas with actual insightful thoughts from NBC’s China analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo. Even Lang Lang’s outfit was just as good as advertised!

The ball’s in your court, London! Better start gluing sequins to Posh’s gown now.

Did the Beijing Opening Ceremony Finally Make Opening Ceremonies Cool Again?