After sixteen days of turning on the TV and discovering yet another event that I didn’t know was in the Olympics, it finally came to an end last night. And what a way to end! We got to see Winston Churchill, the Union Jack decorated in newsprint, and see drummers descending from towers covered in quotes from literature.
Most of the night, I flipped back and forth to catch the music. Not only do we get to hear from MUSE, whose recent album has been on repeat on my Spotify periodically since it dropped in 2009, but we also heard from One Direction (always a crowd favorite), Jessie J, and Taio Cruz. But that’s not what really caught my attention. Looking at the set list from last night, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a good old hit right in the childhood, featuring artists like The Spice Girls, playing tracks from The Beatles, and even featuring one of my favorites, The Who. The Who, after wowing at the Super Bowl back in 2010, did it again in London. It felt fitting, to me, someone who spent all week watching Water Polo thinking, why didn’t I know this was so cool to end the ceremonies with a band that I didn’t really know much about (aside from CSI promos) but then experienced a few years back. Despite the fact that they had been around for so long, it was like I was hearing The Who for the first time back in 2010, realizing why everyone loved them so much.
After talking to some other Olympics fans this week, I’m beginning to get the impression that our millenial generation is experiencing this for the first time, also. Just like so many of us first heard The Who during half time and discovered that they were just as cool as our parents thought. So cool in fact, that Ray Waddell, an entertainment correspondent for Reuters, said that 100 million people watched The Who play and that audience made their album sales spike. I can remember walking into Target within a week later and buying a The Who: Greatest Hits cd. I think my generation approaches the Olympics in the same way. Most of us can remember details about the 2008 Olympics: Michael Phelps winning, Shawn Johnson cleaning up in gymnastics. But if you were to ask me if I remembered any events that weren’t swimming or gymnastics, I’d be at a loss for words.
But look at us now! We tweet live updates about the events we’re watching, follow our favorite athletes, and even become involved when others defame those athletes over social media. We make memes about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. And one can’t forget the Fab Five, that group of gymnastics girls that I have seen more pictures of on Facebook over the last two weeks than of the beach. As a group, we really dug our teeth into the Olympics this time around, finding our niches in a form of sports casting that blended our generation’s dependency on technology with our newfound obsession with such an aged ritual.
But I suppose it makes sense. We buy vinyl and record players, we use Instagram to make our own vintage photos, and we vote for movies that are black and white. Despite the fact that we buy iPhones that speak to us, like music that we can mix on our laptops, and use the internet as a second diary, I can’t help but feel that we millennials are a bit obsessed with what’s old. And what’s older than a tradition of countries competing for gold? In the spirit of saying goodbye to our throw back fascination over the last two weeks: