Amid all the problems and complaints that have surrounded Sochi and the $50 billion that was spent for the city to host the Olympic Games, you would think that the most horrifying problem of all time was the fact that a mechanical ring didn't open during the initial ceremonies. Sure, there are all kinds of problems with accommodations, packs of stray dogs roaming the streets until they are shot, reports of homeless humans being ushered out of the city and families forced into tiny apartments after their homes were razed in favor of Olympic needs. But, my God, did you see the ring malfunction?
During the opening ceremonies on Friday, a set of lit-up snowflakes dropped from a gantry inside the enormous stadium built only to house the opening and closing ceremonies -- there's a good use of funds -- slowly expanded to create the Olympic rings. The only problem was that one of those rings didn't open. Oops.
These were the games where Russia was going to reinvent itself in front of the world. Instead, there are #SochiProblems hashtags on Twitter outlining the myriad number of problems all over the Olympic home city. There have been cries of corruption amid the record amount of money supposedly spent on the games. Of course, there is the controversy surrounding Russia's stand on gays and lesbians -- namely, they find them icky.
But the minute that damn snowflake didn't open Friday night, all hell broke loose on social media. To make matters worse, there was even a rumor spreading -- thanks to a satire website -- that the man who was supposed to get the snowflake to open was found dead, allegedly killed for his involvement in this tragedy. Then there were the reports that Russian television actually doctored the video so that those watching in Mother Russia saw a perfect five-ring opener.
All this for a frigging animatronic snowflake. Never mind that nothing else went wrong during the opening ceremonies. That same gantry that lowered the faulty flake also delivered some incredible mechanical props across the expanse of the stadium, some of them as much as six stories high and the length of two football fields. Beyond that one glitch, it was a flawless and mesmerizing display, which makes the outcry over the one problem all the more ridiculous.
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It reminds me of an episode of Frazier when Frazier and Niles were discussing how wonderful their meal was because it was perfect except for one tiny detail they were able to nitpick at all night. It's funny when it's on a sitcom featuring snooty, erudite rich folk. But in real life among the denizens of Twitter and Facebook, it's just tired.
We have become a world filled with critics whose only qualifications are a pair of eyes and a Twitter account. And the media is no better. Entire segments on 24-hour news networks were dedicated to analysis of what happened. The thing broke. That's what happened. I'm pretty sure we all survived.
The good news is the games themselves are the best distraction from something this silly. We can marvel at people flying down mountains at the speed of freeway traffic on a pair of fiberglass two-by-fours. We can gasp when a skater hits the ice, hard. We can thrill when a dude who, a decade ago, would have been considered nothing more than a stoner waste of space, is now spinning through the air and grabbing gold medals.
That's so much more compelling than an oversized Christmas ornament anyway and so much more interesting to discuss. Well, for me anyway.