Thursday, 20 December 2012

Have yourself an UNlovely Christmas...

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards was a chilling reminder, if we needed it, of the extent to which the London Olympics was, in its aggressive inanity and remember-to-smile ethos, truly, horribly, the event of our times. As if to snare the few remaining sceptics, the programme overran into the 10 o'clock news, by a good 20 minutes, enough time to bear witness to the incredibleness, the unbelievableness, the indescribableness etc. etc. etc, which seem to be preconditions now for even the most basic experience. You're nobody these days unless you're an inspiration. In this sense, the Paralympics were more potent than the Olympics themselves, truly the star of the whole show: the extent to which they devised events to suit athletes, multiplied events to reward athletes, and generated a wash of sentimentalism - we're all different, you know - they made salient the nature of the Games generally, which laundered the misery of economic, political, environmental and cultural collapse, through a massive PR exercise for neoliberalism thinly disguised as a sports competition.

After the programme ended, the BBC ran a tribute to us - we had had our representatives in the 'games-makers' who attended the show itself, of course - who had made the games possible and whose spirit of openness and fun, of togetherness and optimism, had been the real winner. With the result that any viewer already incensed by the Olympics, and by the awards programme, and by all the horror-wrapped-in-sweet-papers of our times, was left only with the option of churlish refusal to be optimistic, open, fun, and in-it-together. But if that is the only option left to us, we must take it. The alternative - of acquiescing in saccharine control - is not to be borne.

Two weeks ago, The Northern Stage Theatre in Newcastle had a large and illuminated sign hung in their bar (it may still be there). It read: L - O - V - E - L - Y. That's it. Nothing more. The naive question would be: What is lovely? 'Lovely' is an adjective, after all. Ah, but not any more it isn't. The mantra of modern life, the category into which experience must fall and to which description must tend, 'Lovely' is, in fact, the imperative of our times, a steel magnolia, so unobjectionable, so enhancing, so adorning, so lovely, but (and you had better believe it) so true.

So, whatever you do this Christmas, do not make it a lovely one, will you?

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