Almost by accident we came across the Paralympics opening cerimony in China. The fanfare surrounding the games certainly hasn't been deafening (pun intended). I admit to almost having forgotten that the games were even happening. Here in Toronto, with the film festival under way, we are getting coverage that amounts to 'It is rumoured that Brad Pitt farted today and although his publicist denys the rumour sources close to the actor confirm that Brad was fuming' kind of in depth reporting - there hasn't been time for mention of much of anything else. God forbid George Clooney burps, what a tsunami that will unleash.
So, flipping by, we found the coverage. A three hour spectacle editted down to less than an hour. The coverage focussed on Canada entering the stadium. The atheletes looked truely buzzed by the experience. It was cool to see people with a variety of disabilities making their way along. I loved seeing our flag bearer, a blind guy, carrying the flag with his father at his elbow - see that and not tear up. Nice.
The announcers just simply didn't seem to know what to say about individual atheletes or the show itself. I hauled ass up and off the couch, an olympic effort, to search on the web about the show, while we were watching it on television. There was a beautiful performance where a wack, or perhaps a double wack, of women in bizarre white dresses moved in unison making designs that were lovely. They were moving their hands almost like they were signing. There was no mention of what they were doing, in fact there was little in the way of commentary at all. A quick search told me that the women were all 'hearing impaired' and that they indeed were signing. Wow. It would have been nice for the announcers to have made even the slightest mention of that fact. It was like no one told the announcers ... 'um these are games for people with disabilities, it's ok to notice that fact.'
Then the torch came in and, if it was planned it was planned well, it moved through the stadium in all the various ways that disabled people move. It was carried along variously by wheelchair, by prosthetic limb, by guide dog ... there was a moment that I loved. A guy with an arm but no hand, carried the torch along with the hand that he did have. He used his other arm, minus hand, to wave to the cheering crowd. Disability on display without shame. I saw a guy, yesterday, coming out of the corner store trying to hide a hand that was formed oddly. This guy just waved what others scorned. Then. THEN. When he passed the torch to the next guy, who was in a wheelchair, they high fived, except there were wasn't a five. But they touched, hand to wrist, wrist to hand. Lovely.
Finally, the torch was lit after a guy in a wheelchair pulled himself up to the top of the stadium, via a rope, wheelchair and all. Then, swinging from a pulley, he reached over and lit the flame. Un-freaking-believable. The announcers were astounded.
And I suppose that's what the games are about. Disabled people reaffirm our 'truth' and in doing so astound others.
But truth has always done that.