An Orgy of Self-Congratulation


Further criticism of the Olympics, and its host country, from Dalrymple in City Journal:


If there were a gold medal for vulgarity and kitsch, the closing ceremony of the London Olympics would have won it hands down. And if proof were required that modern British culture is cheap, tawdry, and relentlessly, ideologically demotic and frivolous, the ceremony certainly provided it. At least it had the merit, in its flashy and garish worthlessness, of being truly representative of the nation in which it took place, of its dreams and aspirations if not its everyday reality.

As always, we feel discomfort in posting such strong criticisms of Britain, as we are American and don’t want to be seen gloating — especially as we don’t think we have good reason to do so. Yes, I found the closing ceremony garish and decadent and celebrity-obsessed and nihilistic, but sadly  American professional sporting events are about the same, just with less funding.

12 thoughts on “An Orgy of Self-Congratulation

  1. Gavin

    I think it’s perfectly okay for you to post criticism or concern about the direction of British culture from afar, Steve. This is presumably motivated by (and should be understood as) an affection for how Britain used to be – how many Americans think it still is today! Indeed, how it should be.

    Just go for it. The more people know, the more chance it might change..

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  2. Chris

    Please put aside your scruples about criticising Britain. Dr. D is bang on target. I am a Brit who with great relief has relocated to the US.

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  3. Richard Maund

    Just about every observation that Dalrymple expresses, of current British culture,is depressingly accurate.
    Richard Maund (21.04.1937)

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  4. Louise

    “Please put aside your scruples about criticising Britain. Dr. D is bang on target. I am a Brit who with great relief has relocated to the US.”

    Americans can be a pain but do they really deserve this?

    Good riddance is the phrase that springs to mind.

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  5. David

    Is he really so enraged because the Olympics were a success and millions of British people enjoyed themselves for a fortnight? Or is it because he wasn’t asked to perform at the closing ceremony? Hoping for a duet with George Michael perhaps?

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  6. Jackson

    I sometimes wonder how it must feel to be Dalrymple? Here you are, the most trenchant social observer of your age publishing books and articles in major newspapers, your writings will be consulted in future centuries as our supreme diagnostician of decadence – and yet you’re almost totally ignored by your age’s intelligentsia. How must it feel? I suppose he’s resigned to it and knows he’s writing for posterity, that we’re past the point of no return and that a thorough cleansing must first take place before his words are heeded.

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  7. Jaxon

    Yes well, I’ve certainly had a taste for Pop and Rock… and movies and what have you (I still get drawn into stuff on youtube, and as I’ve already admitted I was much impressed by Ennis and Farah – though I’ve never been a good team player and don’t like the way sports become a type of religion, I have been semi-athletic… much more so than a chef anyway) but there’s little doubt in my mind that Dalrymple (Postman perhaps especially) is basically correct.

    Frankly it’s depressing

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  8. Jaxon

    Hi Louise
    I hadn’t heard of “nodding dog” before so I did a search and found this

    I came up with a theory in about two seconds – because I do it myself (as you may have been implying, I don’t know).
    This is why I do it, I’ve got lots of floaters
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floater
    (mine are a lot worse than the image on the right of wikipedia page)

    and I have obsessive compulsive streak, I suppose, can’t let it rest, quite often I’ll look down (actually this doesn’t require actually nodding, so I tell bit of a lie) and then look up and the floaters shoot up and then sink back down again ‘sinkers?’.

    I guess in the dog’s case, it’s a little surprising that it doesn’t actually try to brush them away with it’s paw – although it kind of did do that at one stage.

    Who knows? I might be wrong.

    I think TD would indeed find nodding dogs a lot less interesting than, say, Shakespeare… me on the other hand? Well……..

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