Torching empty rituals

The recent disruption of the Olympic Torch ritual fascinates and frankly excites me. I’m glad to see China’s Tibet policies challenged and I also see this as part of a wider pattern.

I think they’ve been doing the torch run thing for decades and it never created much fuss. That’s because like many things surrounding the Olympics, the athletic energy has been turned into an empty, boring ritual.

And in a networked world, being portentous and boring is a massive invitation to those who have genuine passion. They can take your empty ritual and, with a simple intervention, fill it with energy and meaning. In London, perhaps the best manifestation of this was one man with a fire extinguisher. A simple visual act, and a simple sound bite accompanied by images of him being hauled off, and he’d engineered a PR coup.

Of course, his actions took place in the context of protests which were pretty well co-ordinated in what looks like a textbook Here Comes Everybody fashion.

As for the blue-track-suited Chinese security team, well they managed to look like heavies who’d been rendered weightless – a rather powerful propaganda blow for the regime, I’d say.

3 thoughts on “Torching empty rituals

  1. Grumblemouse

    Hey Johnnie

    you’re right – it is exciting – I think the fact that now all parties to something like this are able to promote and air their opinions its interesting to see who gets reported in places like the beeb or cnn.

    I actually got caught up in the textbook Shirky co-ordination myself this evening

  2. poetryman69

    All nations, and especially the US, should boycott the opening ceremonies. I believe it is the best compromise position. The athletes still get to compete but China gets exposed to the full measure of world displeasure with their horrible human rights abuses.

  3. Johnnie Moore

    Grumblemouse, that’s a great post of yours, a real sign of the times. Poetryman my own inclination would be to participate and protest in some way, rather than boycott. But I hear you!


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