Wednesday, 25 July 2012

100m Sprite

As anyone who has ever come within a hearing radius of me will know, I hate the Olympics. In fact, I hate the Olympics so much I've almost turned Olympic hating into a sport of its own. Not a proper sport though. Not a sport that people pay to see on a regular basis, but the kind of sport people only pay any attention to every four years when the TV is saturated with it. Like athletics.

Obviously the less public money is wasted on this awful event the better in my view, but the extent to which the London games has been whored to corporations who slap their logos on every available surface has gone beyond parody, particularly in contrast to the Beijing games. If you can say one thing for the Communists it's that they don't like advertising. Except propaganda. I digress.

You can purchase a bar of Dairy Milk declaring Cadbury to be the "official treat provider" of the games. Cadbury: the same Cadbury that was recently sold to German food giant Kraft and whose profit margins correlate with childhood obesity rates.

Does London 2012 have an official TV? Of course! Panasonic is the "audio visual partner" of the games.

Coca Cola is an official parter. A company whose ravaging of natural resources in developing countries is probably the reason they do so badly in water sports. Coca Cola are running the torch relay

Next is an "official supplier". Their website doesn't say what they're supplying, so I assume it's drugs.

Guess who the official restaurant is? MacDonalds! Personally I can't wait to see the athletes parade under the golden arches. Maybe they can get Usain Bolt to endorse Chicken McNuggets.

Now it gets funny. London 2012 has an "official oil and gas parter". Seriously. And guess who it is? BP! The ones with the massive gulf of mexico oil spill! I guess they're just in to piss off the Americans. 

The list of sponsors is a long one, with a host of increasingly inappropriate or irrelevant names vying for our attention. But perhaps this is a good representation of modern Britain. TVs, CocaCola, cars and fast food are what's important. Certainly not javelins and volley balls.

This wouldn't be so objectionable if everything wasn't emblazoned with Union Jacks. Why should I be forced into feeling "national identity" or care about the whole garish display when it's actually just a vehicle for corporate advertising? It would be easier if they flogged the entire thing off and called it "Pizza Hut 2012". It would certainly remove the politics from it. "Gay marriage and Lords reform aren't priorities", they say, as the Home Secretary is disturbed from her day to answer questions about Olympic security.

It would also help if the sponsorship wasn't so wholly inappropriate. One of the much trumpeted arguments for the Olympics was the encouragement of sport, but presumably the additional sales of MacDonalds, Cadburys, Coca Cola, cars and TVs created by these "partnerships" won't do public health any favours.

This has reached new levels of madness with the announcement that police; that is, public servants who aren't even working for corporations; have been instructed to empty snacks of non-official partners into unbranded packaging. Aside from the impracticality of this (do police have to carry an empty bag at all times in case they get peckish during the day?), it seems to run somewhat contrary to the principle at the core of capitalism: that of competition. If rival brands that have been selected by individuals; voted for with their money, if you will; are banned from a certain area, it becomes a virtual monopoly. And what about bringing money to local businesses? Luckily there was a climbdown on this particular matter, but surely the fact this was even considered by someone for long enough for it to be suggested is a sign that something's wrong.

In a similar vein, it has emerged that the crude "Wenlock" and "Mandeville" Olympic mascot toys are being made in Chinese sweatshops. I'm not precisely sure why this is a newsworthy revelation. If something is as cheap, poor quality and mass produced as I assume these toys are it's usually a fairly safe bet that they're made in sweatshop conditions. In this case, staff were being paid just £6 a day and forced to work with dangerous chemicals. This, again, shows the Olympics to be not a pageant of everything that's great about Britain and the world, but a festival of consumerism, as people buy disposable toys made by virtual slaves. As the mountain of discarded jubilee flags is joined by piles of Wenlock toys and happy meal boxes, the Olympics show themselves to be nothing more than another fleeting, disposable gimmick.

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