This week’s British Olympic showreel wouldn’t have been complete without a misshapen lump of controversy every bit as artificial and underwhelming as one of those chunks of coagulated flavouring found at the bottom of a packet of Monster Munch. Apparently that rotten picture from bloody years ago of Myra Hindley made out of Jim’ll Fix It badges or something was bewilderingly featured, in a ‘deeply upsetting’ way.
It is upsetting of course, but only in the usual way – seeing genuine talent and hard work (your actual medal-winning folk) being piggy-backed by the usual lazy crowd of media slugabeds is as British as any unfolding London bus full of Crowley-worshipping billionaires. Never mind sport and politics being kept apart, sport and art shouldn’t be half-heartedly mashed together, certainly not in this boring, taking-the-shine-off-genuine-aceness, committee-driven way.
The irony is, of course, that not so long ago (well, OK, quite long ago), art was an Olympic event. You can see why this wouldn’t happen now – not televisual enough, and who would commentate? Brian Sewell? – but perhaps if a measurable element was added, it could work. Who can sculpt a reclining nude in less than four minutes? ‘And there’s the plucky Italian undergoing his own mini-Renaissance, coming back against the Spaniard with some rapid work on the upper torso there, just look at those chippings fly!’ Or the novel-writing marathon? ‘Fifty pages to go, and Amis has an awful lot of characterisation through revealed action left to do! He spent too long building up that allegory in the early chapters, and now he’s paying the price!’
Hmm. Perhaps it’s best left untampered with. We’ve got enough proper amateur athletes who’ve made it on their own ability and dedication as it is, let’s not let egregious, self-promoting faux-proles like Banksy in and spoilt everything. With him on our team, we’d be bound to cark it. Unlike Los Angeles in 1932, where Britain’s John Hughes won a gold medal in town planning. Er, result!