What a Place!

rio-opening-ceremony-3

by Glen Hamilton

The Olympic Opening Ceremonies last night were great. They weren’t as over the top as Beijing and Sochi. Instead, they were in the right spirit for these games. The director touched on Brazil’s experience with slavery, which is something they couldn’t figure out how to do in Atlanta. I probably missed several hundred social signifiers, but apparently the show stuck its finger in the new, unelected President’s eye throughout. Great job, despite a shriveled budget. Isn’t it great when a fantastic piece of work is pulled off with slim funds for the benefit of the same Austerians who are desperately trying to undermine them? Hold on. Uh, no actually. That sucks. And it happens all the time.

I’ve been interested in Rio since I lived in New Orleans and fell for the Carnival festivities there. Rio seemed like something akin to the “Super Bowl” of Mardi Gras celebrations. But quality information about Rio was tough to come by. That changed dramatically when the city was awarded the Olympic Games. Now, there is so much interesting stuff about this fascinating place. Despite all the claims about the Olympics being a sinister corporate plot, the media coverage of the has been highly critical of the neo-liberal model for the Games.  Local elites’ actions and motives have been criticized severely. There are some great community groups getting the word out effectively. Traditional media are getting a great view from the ground. The only downside to this attention is that the media tends to focus on the disparity between the favelas and Rio’s South Zone near the Olympic sites. Largely missing from the coverage are the lives of majority of Cariocas, working class people in the North and West of the city. That, the Games, as well as mass transit, seem to have missed.

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