Underway as of yesterday, the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have been drawing lots of comparisons to the Olympic Games of London 2012. Some of this commentary has been plainly insipid, while others have been downright mean. Lyn Gardner’s review of the XX Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony review was cruel and nasty, the way New York City fashion editors take pot-shots at Dallas by publishing images of big-haired women in loud dresses when covering social events in the Lone Star State.
While this may all come down to the “Scottish Cringe” (a national trait of self-deprecation), the Opening Ceremonies at Celtic Park on Wednesday night raise the valid question of how one distills culture and values into a stadium floorshow?
To be sure, there were several cliché moments like giant dancing tea cakes, an inflatable Loch Ness Monster and John Barrowman’s costume of purple tartan. But there were also some inspired moments like the Scottish Ballet’s touching duet to a muted version of the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles”; the Scottish terriers accompanying each nation’s athletes; and the gay kiss in the opening moments. This last gesture was an unequivocal statement to the 42 participating countries that have laws against homosexuality on their statute books: These Games (a.k.a. The Friendly Games) are a celebration of equality and diversity.
But aside from the impossible task of portraying a nation’s historical contributions in a one-hour spectacle (London 2012’s supermodels and Sochi’s weeping bear seem farther from the mark than highland dancing on whisky barrels), there is some stellar design work associated with the XX Commonwealth Games at Glasgow 2014.
In addition to the Queen’s Baton, which we reported on last October, the designs of the medals, podiums and medal bearers’ costumes all have a quality of elegant abstraction as they contemporary updates to traditional representations of Scottish culture at the medals ceremonies of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.