Yes, there was a celebration of the British NHS at the Olympic Opening Ceremony the other night. Yes, it was memorable. And yes, the American media was clueless and confused about it all. The Guardian:
Perhaps not surprisingly in a country where healthcare reform is so controversial, it was the high-profile presence of the NHS that stunned many American writers.
After all, the idea of state-control of healthcare is demonised as “socialised medicine” with scare stories of “death panels” touted by top—usually Republican—political leaders.
Certainly the US equivalent, which would be dancing health insurance corporate executives, was hard to imagine.
“For the life of me, though, am still baffled by NHS tribute at opening ceremonies. Like a tribute to United Health Care or something in US,” tweeted clearly confused Los Angeles Times sports writer Diane Pucin.
Perhaps many writers simply struggled with so much going on.
But none so much as Time’s Catherine Mayer, whom the Guardian quotes with amusement:
Boyle couldn’t overcome two fundamental problems. Britain is good at the sort of solemn pageantry surrounding royal occasions. It’s less good at solemnity without a traditional framework.
It’s hard to disagree with Boyle’s messaging—for example about the dangers of unfettered capitalism and about how generations of immigrants have enriched and renewed Britain and about the value of the NHS—but it was clunky and worthy.
That’s because the other banana skin is the idea that last 100 years of British history, with its loss and confusion as well as its triumphs and achievements, lends itself to the lobotomized format of an Olympics opening ceremony [.…] So we got something that almost worked, and captivated in parts. And that is as true a reflection of Britain as it’s possible to imagine.
No, it worked quite well. It just takes a little more appreciation for empathy and complexity than most American media are able to handle.