To cleanse the palate. I turned the closing ceremony on early, soon enough to suffer through the treacle-upon-treacle child choir’s rendition of “Imagine,” but otherwise watched without paying close attention. Then this happened and for the first time ever I had the same gut reaction as Gawker, right down to their choice of analogy: “[A] low point in pop culture. It’s Snow White-at-the-Oscars bad. Shame.” Yep. I used to think Slash performing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” with the Black Eyed Peas at the Super Bowl was the low point, but if the Olympics are about anything, my friends, they’re about setting new records. On Twitter, Anthony Bourdain is at 1,200+ retweets and counting for this:
Still deeply traumatized by brief but near lethal glimpse of Russell Brand’s “I Am the Walrus” . Might need to return to narcotics.
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) August 13, 2012
Click the image and skip to 35:00. The thing is, there’s no single obvious flaw. Brand carries the tune well enough, it’s well-choreographed, colorful, etc. The reaction, I think, is due to a perfect storm of lesser irritations: (1) He’s tremendously annoying generally, at least to American eyes; (2) it’s not just any song but a Beatles tune that’s being enlisted as a vehicle for his druggy libertine persona; (3) the fact that he’s performing in character as Willy Wonka makes the whole thing excruciatingly campy. The idea, I guess, was to present a “dangerous,” more hallucinogenic version of Wonka, but there’s nothing dangerous in a big, gaudy, kitschy pageant like the closing ceremony. It’s danger through a filter of cuteness and mass appeal. I half-expected Snow White to dance out there and get a sexy-yet-playful whack on her bottom from bad Wonka/Brand. That’s all that’s missing.
I don’t mind telling you: I’m thinking of making this our new “bad news” mascot video in lieu of the melting bunny.