A beautifying lie? Culture and kitsch @London2012

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Abstract:

This article looks at some of the cultural politics and aesthetic strategies involved in constructing a scenario for the host city presentation at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in London 2012. It starts by looking at some of the implications of Danny Boyle's choice of Caliban's famous speech in The Tempest as the keynote theme for his 'Isle of Wonders' spectacle. It is argued that a post-colonial version of Britain's island story is likely to be compromised by the necessity of projecting a happy-clappy brand of multiculturalism, the historical roots of which go back to the eighteenth century and the aesthetic-cum-political principle of 'order in variety'. The article then looks at how this principle has been post-modernised through the idiom of kitsch, now a central feature in the promotion of the Olympic Dream. If London 2012 is to be more than a beautifying lie, then we will have to recognise, like Caliban, that its promise of riches falling from the sky is indeed the stuff that dreams are made on.

Keywords: AESTHETICS; KITSCH; LONDON 2012; MULTICULTURALISM; OLYMPICS; THE TEMPEST

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3898/136266212800379527

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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