2014 Sochi2012 London2010 Vancouver2008 Identify
As 21st century global citizens, we live in a complex world replete with complicated issues, challenges and problems. The Olympic opening ceremonies provide examples of state-sponsored cultural expressions, a major societal institution that is the product of a theatre-state in honor of international Olympic sport. Your task is to identify a culturally significant problem or global issue from two of the Olympic opening ceremonies on the modules (could be a different issue in each one), then write an essay that considers the issue as it was performed (or glossed over) and describes a solution revealed in the pageantry of the performance, including what the host country presents, the historical/cultural narrative, or what the networks choose to show in their commentary for the televised audience. You might think about what is revealed and what is concealed in these biennial international spectacles (Winter and Summer Olympics). For instance, a country might promote its technological successes while ignoring human rights issues. Please make sure to provide specific evidence from the ceremonies that you choose to view. Evidence from the videos might consist of an aspect of the production or scenes that are part of the spectacle. This is a state performance often staged with spectacular sets and costumes and large numbers of performers. You only need to identify one moment or scene from each of the ceremonies that reveals a culturally significant problem or global issue (could be a different issue in each one).
If the ceremonies conceal an issue (e.g., health care, inequality, ethnic bias, hunger, environmental sustainability, immigration, disenfranchised minorities or the GCP sustainability goals listed under Readings on Module #4), you should identify it and propose a solution for addressing the issue in the global spectacle organized around sporting nations. As for finding a solution, this is where your problem-solving and analytical skills come into play. You need to use your own judgement and imagination to suggest ways that the problem could be solved. One memorable problem that a student discovered by researching the Beijing Olympics is the lip-syncing child. Apparently, the actual singer was not deemed pretty enough to perform so they used her voice and another person lip-synched the words. Applying our analytical mind to this problem, we could say that this is about body-shaming or showing bias based on physical appearance (inequality). A solution would be for the real singer to perform despite the lack of perfection in her physical appearance.
Upload your essay to Canvas (500-600 words). This assignment will have peer review.
Please submit your essay with the following format in the upper left-hand corner:
URLs (This should include the URL of the videos you watched with the city labeled)
Any other web resources you used such as journal articles or news reports should go at the bottom. If you wish to create a formal “Works Cited” section, it should go at the bottom of your report so that the top is uncluttered.
Then give your essay a title and write in coherent paragraphs with reference to your sources.
Here is an example from the most recent Olympic Opening Ceremony that contains at least two global issues (problems): imperialism (inequality) and gender equality with a solution that involved a petition:
The American network NBC has apologized after one of its analysts drew anger for a comment during coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics that seemed to gloss over South Korea’s painful history with Japan, its former colonial master.
The analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, made the comment while appearing during the opening ceremony. Noting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was in attendance, Mr. Ramo described Japan as “a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945, but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.”
The remark immediately ignited outrage in South Korea, the Olympic host nation, where resentment of Japan’s harsh early 20th-century annexation of the Korean Peninsula continues to simmer. Just last month, Mr. Abe’s attendance at the Games was in question after tensions escalated over Japan’s refusal to reissue an apology for the Japanese military’s role in forcing Korean and other women to work in military brothels during World War II. Soon after Mr. Ramo’s remark, an online petition began to circulate demanding an apology from NBC. By Sunday, more than 8,000 people had signed it.
“Any reasonable person familiar with the history of Japanese imperialism, and the atrocities it committed before and during WWII, would find such statement deeply hurtful and outrageous,” the petition read. “And no, no South Korean would attribute the rapid growth and transformation of its economy, technology, and political/cultural development to the Japanese imperialism.”
Which two Olympics should I watch?
I suggest that you choose from among this list of 14 spectacular and socially impactful opening ceremonies. You could begin with a search on YouTube or Google where you will find many readily available. For example, searching for Sochi Opening Ceremonies, you will find shorter versions with highlights (e.g., Sochi highlights (28 minutes)) Sochi Opening Ceremony – Spectacular Highlights | Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics (Links to an external site.
You might also find full versions (e.g., Sochi complete (3 hours 29 minutes) 2014 Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony (Links to an external site.)
You may also find critiques and analysis that you may use in your essay. Although this prompt lists multiple social issues above and 14 selected ceremonies below, students invariably have trouble connecting the dots. I’ve had several students tell me that they’d rather do a make-up assignment because they can’t identify a social issue. My instructions “suggest” that you use one of the ones listed. It is not a hard and fast requirement and you are not limited to this list. However, the 1936 Berlin Olympics is such an obvious example of an issue that it is intentionally omitted from the list below. It is just too easy for a #GEA2 assignment and requires no critical thinking or analysis to say that Nazi propaganda is a social issue. You will not receive credit if you use this as one of your cases.
2018 Pyeongchang (ceremonies available in VR)
2016 Rio de Janiero (first time VR available for Olympic events)
2002 Salt Lake City
1984 Los Angeles
Global Citizen Project Outcomes
This assignment involves GCP Objective #1 (Self-awareness with regard to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors) and #2 (Knowledge of global and cultural systems and issues). Your learning outcome is that you will be able to identify and analyze major global issues (problems) and develop solutions by examining the ways that these are revealed in state-sponsored performance.
There are four articles on the M4 Readings (Required) page that will help you identify a problem and find a solution for your GCP Project. Two compare the Opening Ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics and address issues of national identity, social hierarchies, health care and sustainable ecosystems in these cultural performances. The cultural performance in the opening ceremony of the Olympics displays a country’s national identity to the global audience by grafting the Olympic spirit, considered a universal value for all humanity, onto the uniqueness and specialty of the hosting country. In the process, the host country of the Olympics naturally invites conflicts between the global, national, and local groups as well as demands from various ethnicities and societies into its discourse of national identity, then constructs a new national identity under the global context (Lee, 2011). Art is a social product which projects the cultural identity of a country and its people and plays a role in protecting the national identity of its inherent culture from globalization (Song, 1999). Coincidentally, new forms of art are created according to changing social and cultural environments. There are more options for you to consider in the list above.