Watching the Closing Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, I cringed as Britain presented itself to the world. David Beckham kicked a soccer ball into the crowd. Leona Lewis moaned as she rose out of a double-decker bus. And modern dancers swung umbrellas around, as if to warn potential visitors they would get drenched in four years time. As the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 drew near, I braced myself for equally shoddy staging and overt clichés. My forecast turned out to be completely wrong. The dark, almost macabre opening of Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony veered from the Olympic tradition of staging tedious history lessons devoid of personality. The dark hues, tribal drumming, and sheer chaos of the scenes captured the consequences of Britain’s industrial past on England’s “green and pleasant land.” By the time massive smoke stacks had risen from the center of the Olympic stadium, I was already looking forward to watching it all again on YouTube.
American gymnast McKayla Maroney, the defending world champion on the vault, entered the Olympics as the heavy favorite to win that apparatus. She nailed performances during the team competition, and seemed invincible heading into the vault final. But after landing on her backside during her second vault attempt, the presumed gold turned into silver—and Maroney could barely hide her disgust. During the medal ceremony she stood on the podium with her arms crossed and wore a scowl rather than a smile. Grimacing so visibly made Maroney look like a sore loser, and ruined the photos that she shared with the other medalists. She later claimed that she was disappointed with herself rather than the silver medal. But there is something of a silver lining. The “McKayla Is Not Impressed” tumblr, which features her looking unimpressed while watching the moon landing and other significant world events, has gone viral, bringing laughter to millions.