Wednesday, June 1, 2016

You have to see Detroit's 1968 Olympic Bid video

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 1:26 PM

With the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, we thought it might be fun to look back at Detroit's bid for hosting the 1968 Olympics. Filled with white pasty men, a monotone narration by former Mayor of Detroit Jerome Cavanagh, and a view of Detroit through rose-tinted glasses.

The video is a strange glimpse into the past, dripping with optimism for the future of Detroit.

"There is a resurgence of civic pride and unfettered imagination. A new renaissance is changing the face of the city" states Cavanagh. The video is filled with quotes like these, showing the hustle and bustle of Detroit, with vague messages on how the city improve and keep pushing forward. 

Shown off in the video are shots of downtown, neighborhoods, and the late night entertainment. Of course it shows white people in every shot, with the occasional person of color that might wander into frame, but keeping the focus on well dressed white men and their trophy wives. Interesting to note that any semblance of Motown is absent, even though by the mid 1960s, Motown would be one of Detroit's biggest exports. 

One of the most surprising parts of the video occurs at 15:06 when the late former President John F. Kennedy announcing Detroit being nominated for the Olympic Games. JFK was assassinated in 1963, the video was created 1965. 

Here's what ghost/psychic JFK said:

The United States Olympic Committee has chosen Detroit, Michigan, as it's nominee for the 1968 Olympic Games. Should Detroit be selected, as result of your deliberations in Baden-Baden, I want to assure  you are the warmest and most cordial welcome in the United States. Detroit is a center of a great sports community in central United States. We are anxious to open our doors in this section of the country and indeed throughout the entire United to you all. To share our nation and our hospitality with participants and spectators from all over the world. I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you, and may all of you have the wisdom ascribed to the Olympian gods in arriving at your very difficult decision, thank you.

Interestingly the video was produced by Jam Handy. Some of the shorts Jam Handy produced were riffed on famously on the  TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). Seeing 'A Jam Handy Picture' let you know the video was going to be boring, badly acted, and created with some weird creativity of the 1960s. Check out the video 'A Case of Spring Fever' for what I'm taking about. 

Detroit ultimately lost its bid to Mexico city, marking the first time the Olympics were held in Latin America and also the first in a Spanish-speaking country. We were runner up though, who knows, maybe Detroit might win a bid for a future Olympic Games. 


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