Simon Kelner: The Opening Ceremony was a huge waste of money

Kelner's view

Share
Related Topics

I don't want to be offensive like Frankie "let's poke fun at Jordan's disabled son" Boyle. And I don't want to be crass like Edwina "Italians are good-looking, even in wheelchairs" Currie. And I certainly don't want to be accused of being a self-conscious controversialist. But is it possible to say anything negative about the Paralympics Opening Ceremony without being accused of being one, or all, of these things? Well, here goes.

I think the event that launched the Paralympics – impressive in its scope and scale – was a huge waste of money. What is it with these opening ceremonies? They're overblown, overwrought and, now, over here. And there seems to be a cultural tyranny at play which forces observers and commentators to suspend objective judgement. We have already gorged on Mary Poppins flying through the sky, a parachuting Queen, the Spice Girls reforming, and pyrotechnics by the lorryload. Why couldn't Danny Boyle's unimpeachable extravaganza have acted as the Opening Ceremony for the entire Olympic summer?

We have shown the world that we can put on a bloody good shindig: we had nothing more to prove in terms of showmanship, so maybe it would have been more fitting to concentrate on the most important aspect of the Paralympics – the athletes themselves. This would have had the added benefit of allowing us not to be perplexed over the relevance of 62,000 primarily able-bodied spectators all taking a bite out of an apple at the same time, or to puzzle over a giant umbrella that turned into a boat, or to worry about the Queen having to undergo another open-air show full of loud music, fireworks and dodgy choreography.

What was truly affecting in the ceremony was the parade of the athletes, and the fact that you knew that, behind each one, was a story of moral courage and physical determination that would be both humbling and uplifting. I'd like a return to the days when the entrance of the athletes was the centrepiece of the ceremony, rather than the time when those at the stadium headed off to join the massive queues for a cup of tea, and those at home found something else to do while waiting for the next superstar to appear.

Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, made a superbly judged speech to open the Games, in which, addressing the competitors, he said: "Your stories and performances will challenge the way people think about themselves and about others. You are all catalysts for change and role models for an inclusive society." He said that spectators will "experience every single emotion, including ones we never thought possible".

I'm sure Sir Philip's words will strike a chord over the next 10 days, as the tales of incredible human endeavour unfold. But one part of the quest for inclusion is that critical judgements must be fairly applied across the piece. And, that being the case, I don't believe it's crass to point out that we may have had our fill of pageantry for a while.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher Jobs in Blackpool

Negotiable: Randstad Education Preston: Primary Teacher Jobs in BlackpoolWe ar...

Health & Social Teacher

Competitive & Flexible : Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobRandstad Educati...

***SEN British Sign Language Teacher***

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Successful candidate should hav...

Early Years and Foundation Stage Primary Teachers in Blackpool

Negotiable: Randstad Education Preston: Early Years and Foundation Stage Prima...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  

Oscar Pistorius sentence: Judge Masipa might have shown mercy, but she has delivered perfect justice

Chris Maume
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album