The Mobile Olympic City: London, City Branding, and the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony

in London post-2010 in British Literature and Culture
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The 2012 Olympic Games in London were a unique opportunity for staging a favourable version of the British metropolis to a global audience. Looking at the representation of London in the light of recent strategies of city branding, this article will focus on the portrayal of London in the Olympic Opening Ceremony. It will investigate three particular segments of the TV broadcast: the introductory clip ‘Journey along the Thames,’ the short film ‘Happy and Glorious’ and the clip showing the arrival of the Olympic torch, ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out.’ I will analyse how visual image, sound and the narrative approach of the BBC commentators work together to create an impression of the capital as a source of pleasurable spectacle and also how these representations can be regarded as hegemonic ways of ‘reading’ the city as a coherent entity, emulating the common strategies of city branding and its aim of creating a ‘unique’ brand. Finally, the article will show how all three clips together convey an image of the city that supports the accelerated international promotion of London as a ‘global city’ and that corresponds to the neoliberal mantra of the boundless circulation of capital, goods and labour.

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