Let’s talk about Canada. My macroeconomics prof said that the defining trait of Canadians is that they’re boring. This is what separates us from the Americans. This is what kept us relatively safe during the global economic crisis. This is why we’re so nice.
So you may have noticed that there are a bunch of people in Vancouver who’ll be playing in the snow for the next two weeks. We just had a fancy ceremony to open the next two weeks and of course, the knee-jerk reaction is ‘herp derp China was better’. Which, I guess, is true. This ignores another fact that should be blatantly obvious.
Canada is not China.
I mean, it’s pretty clear. One of those countries has 1.2 billion Chinese people in it and the other has 33 million random immigrants. One stems from an ancient civilization going back thousands of years and the other is a relatively young constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. One is a burgeoning superpower and the other is a modest middle power. The opening ceremonies of an Olympics should reflect the culture of the host nation, so why are we expecting Canada’s to look like China’s?
China used their opening ceremonies to go through how awesome their history and culture is and to show to the world that it’s back. Canada is looking to present its culture, but not necessarily grandstand in it. And well, there is the fact that China has a much larger pool of cool things to draw from. This is why China had 2008 drummers in absolutely perfect coordination and Canada had punk tapdancers with shoes on fire.
Then there’s the cynical side of things. China is an authoritarian state and Canada is a parliamentary democracy. China has the authority and the will to trample over peoples’ rights and sink ridiculous amounts of money into showing the world how great they’ve become. Canada is beholden to the public and its actions are under constant scrutiny and there are always people displeased with what’s going on who have the right to make a fuss about it.
The intent of China’s show was much more clear as it was a show of force designed to awe the world. As a result, they did whatever it took, at any cost, to pull it off. And for the most part, they succeeded in making an amazing spectacle. Canada’s show is completely different in intent, which was more of a ‘hey guys, we’ve got some pretty neat stuff to show you’ sort of thing. This worked out because it meant that the scale and cost and execution didn’t need to be as grand. It was interesting and fun and pretty neat and that was all I was really asking for.
Now let’s see some frigging medals, Canada.