Sunday, August 15, 2010

I confess watching the YOG opening ceremony...

...and utterly regretted it.

Pre-teenage cousins and young kids glued their faces to my TV box (we had a family gathering), having been told by their schools to support the YOG. If they aren't participating, at least give their support in spirit by watching the YOG opening ceremony.

I was in the same living room with these starry-eyed future generation of Singapore, accompanying them in their eagerness. I was all ready to give credit and accolade to the organisers, the working committee, the supporters and the event itself.

Deep down I hoped it to succeed. I wanted it to succeed.

I lingered on the thought that no matter what comes may, a Singaporean is still a Singaporean. We will roll up our sleeves, grit our teeth and gird ourselves with the 'never-say-die' resolve to see it through. So there I was fully prepared to swallow my pride and to hold my criticisms that the over-publicised event might actually pull it off. I even berated myself for being cynical and skeptical about the whole thing.

SGD380+ million dollars, mind you! It's a huge sum of money.

But whatever resolve I had died after some time into the show. My pre-teen viewers cringed at the ridiculous 'alien', my young audience were befuddled with the boxer, and I felt the commentator tried too hard to lift the spirit of the games. Seriously it wasn't even his fault!

One of the audience remarked, "Why boxer? Why is he totally clueless about what he wants to do? At least footballer we understand." Another queried, "Where is this held, huh? Is it Marina?" And the final icing, one young one piqued, "Aiyoh, what kind of alien is it?

Wow... such a pale contrast to the recent National Day. At least with the National Day parade feedback I gathered, people enjoyed the lights, sounds, colours and singing. Especially the freebies in the goody bags.

We have these too at the YOG. But seriously something is amiss. This is Singapore's Youth Olympics to the world. There were lights, colours and singing alright but missing in SPIRIT!

Spirit comes with youth. You just can't buy. It comes along when the youths feel this is a 'cool' event to be in and the word of mouth spreads like a wildfire. From my interactions, most of them don't give a hoot about it.

It showed throughout the whole event amid the aplomb of bursting pillars of fire, zooming spotlights and fantastic stage show by the water front. There was an absence of the spirit of the youths in the event. It felt like it was all for show, a disappointing wayang of sorts. I pondered whom the event was for and if the budget given was even worth the spending. Bluntly put - disappointing show.

By the agonising looks on our faces, we switched to another channel. We concurred it was too painful to watch.

And I thought National Day needed more spirit and patriotism.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kaffein-nated,
I am glad I found your review. (Many of the reviews I found tried to mix in a political statement, which I felt was unnecessary and unobjective.)

I cannot agree with you more. I am proud that we are the host city for the first Youth Olympics and I wanted it very much to succeed.

The opening ceremony was really a huge disappointment. It was a mish-mash of messy and largely meaningless performances. It had no theme, no story, no continuity. Each performance was disjointed from the next. It felt like a recycled NDP from the 1980s -- dancers in "square" formation, one culture after another, the old singapore story again -- but nothing at all about the Olympic values.

The boxer bit started out promising and then turned into a big joke with the giant alien and the antennae "hero".

The bit about the girl playing with fire had no meaning. She created some pyrotechnics and then suddenly there were carps transforming into a dragon? Huh? It could have easily been about daring to challenge the rules or something. Anything...!

To be fair, the only saving grace was the phoenix boat with water wings and the torch fire vortex. Those were cool.

I applaud all the performers and the effort they put in. I put the blame solely on the chief choregrapher. Ivan Heng had manpower, budget and a world-class team. What happened?

Let's hope the games are better.

gamemaker said...

Hmm. First let me say that I was backstage during the SYOG opening ceremony so I didn't get to watch much of it. Neither did I get to hear what the commentator was blabbing about on TV.

I did, however, get to catch a glimpse of certain performances during rehearsals and on the actual day itself. I agree that they aren't perfect, and some of the performers appear pretty lost during certain segments. But you talk about spirit, and that's where I feel a tad bit indignant.

If you had been with us after the performance that day, you would have felt it. The pride and the joy. Maybe it was an after-performance high, but the truth is that each one of the young performers and volunteers (I can't speak for myself since I was paid to be there) sacrificed a lot of time and effort to be there. It wasn't perfect, yeah, but their spirit was immeasurable.

You could say that most of the secondary school performers and even some of the volunteers were obligated to be there, but there was a spirit and energy there that day, something I really can't find words to describe, that can't be forced. I saw young Singaporeans cheering, crying, laughing and celebrating. And the moment the Olympic flame was set ablaze, that was truly my proudest moment as a Singaporean.

If the majority of Singapore can't be bothered with YOG, then maybe that handful of us at the floating platform that night is enough.


Anonymous said...

Ivan Heng cannot one lah. Dick Lee would do a better job.