Homeless in Vancouver: The United Colours of Sochi
Unlike the dog-eared and bedraggled pink teddy above, the Russian bear has cleaned itself up and is fairly resplendent in full rainbow colours—all the better to wow the rest of the world and steal the thunder from any pesky gay rights advocates.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are in full swing and by all accounts, the tribute to Vladimir Putin’s one-man rule is packing them in.
Someone even hijacked a plane to get there; unfortunately it ended up in Istanbul and completely missed the opening ceremony.
The superficial aspects of venues and spectacle change every two years but the underlying mechanism of the Olympic machine seems to runs like a turn-key operation from one country and one season to another. So it’s interesting to note that Russia does bring something unique to the Olympic mix: an unparalleled expertise in, among other things, counterpropaganda.
Why does the official Sochi Winter Olympics gear look so gay?
I’ve previously posted about the Russian Federation’s law against the promotion of homosexuality, Article 6.21, and how it treats homosexuality like a social disease. This would’ve been a very progressive law 200 years ago. Today in the Russian Federation it’s a very popular law. In many other parts of the developed world the law is seen as homophobic and backward.
Many groups and individuals have spoken out against the Russian antigay law: Google unveiled a Sochi rainbow “doodle” pointed at the Olympic Charter and lesbian snowboarder Cheryl Maas wore rainbow mitts to Sochi.
The Internet was instantly abuzz with the way team Greece obviously protested the law by wearing rainbow-fingered gloves in the opening ceremonies. Except they turned out to be the official Sochi Olympic gloves—one Olympic colour per finger.
Those sly Russians!
Anyone unfamiliar with Article 6.21—just going by the television pictures—might think the Russian Federation has actually gone and embraced gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people, the official clothing for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics being so… rainbow-coloured!
Whatever the mindset of the majority of Russians, there’s nothing backward about the Russia’s political apparatus, which effectively blurs the lines between bureaucracy, legislation, security policing, and event organizing, and puts it all under the control of the former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin.
It was surely second nature for the Russian regime to effortlessly undercut potential gay rights protesters by stealing the rainbow flag of the gay pride movement and refashioning it as the official uniform for Sochi Olympics staff.
It can even be said the outfits are based on the Olympic colours—and five of them are. But the plain fact is that in a sea of rainbow-hued Olympic gear any number of rainbow flags and banners would lose their potential thunder.
Three things Russians are good at in a scary way: roulette, software coding, and propaganda.
Anyways, I'm too old for the Olympics
I have to admit to being more than a little jaded about the quadrennial winter fun and games.
The mixture of amateur athletics, amateur judging, professional ice hockey, and really professional marketing just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
There was a time when I took it all in, enthusiastically and uncritically.
That would have been when I was a kid; when I knew who Nancy Greene Raine was and wanted to ski just like her only, being a Prairie boy, I was fuzzy about the downhill part.
But if I couldn’t ski just like she did, I could enjoy Mars bars just like she did.
I only noticed the bad taste this left in my mouth beginning with the 1980 Summer Games. There was more than a dash of hypocrisy in the Olympic mix—always had been—but I only noticed it as a young adult.
Hypocrisy has been an unmedalled sport in every Olympic Games and Sochi is no exception. After the successful 2008 Summer Olympics put on by the brutal “Communist” dictatorship of China, holding the Winter Olympics in the benevolent “Capitalist” dictatorship of the Russian Federation just made sense.
Olympics are business by another name and it can be much easier to do business with a capitalist-loving dictatorship (like Communist China) than any so-called democracy of the people.
There are still plenty of dictatorships but only a select few can afford to stage an Olympics. Give the Russian Federation some credit, the Olympics ain’t cheap! If they were North Korea wouldn’t still be saving up for a future bid.