The 2008 Beijing Olympics was the most widely watched Olympics in history. It had all you could ask for. It had high drama, incredible feats, and one of the most beautiful opening and closing ceremony ever. I was completely in awe with the beautiful creativity in displaying all of China’s history and culture. Great job China.
However… coupled with such great display of the magnificence of Chinese culture, so was the display of some not so magnificent incidences. Lot of deception was carried out by the Olympic decision makers to put forth their best face. It’s a show, so much of it is understandable, but I strongly believe that actions the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) & the Olympic organizers carried out poorly contributed to its own culture and sent the wrong message to the very people they govern.
The list of what are being called “deceptions” or “lies” continues to grow. A wonderful little girl with a wonderful voice, Yang Peiyi, was yanked from the stage and told to sing backstage because the organizers wanted to have a more prettier girl, one “flawless in image” as mentioned by the music director, to be on stage. The new girl, Lin Miaoke, ended up lip syncing while the Yang Peiyi had to sing backstage during perhaps the biggest stage she would ever get a chance to participate in. CCP also claimed to have sold out the games but admitted later to hiring volunteers to fill up the empty seats. Organizers also showed fake digital fireworks making the firework display grander than it actually was to the rest of the world. Organizers also claimed and printed on their programs that the spectacular display of China’s ethnicity groups were actual people from those provinces while later saying that they were actually nearly all from the Han ethnic group that make up 90% of their population. CCP kept emphasizing harmony with its people while sanctioning away water and resources from the countryside farms to keep Beijing well stocked and pushing out migrant workers out of their cities. CCP praised the fact that the Olympic games were protest free while quietly jailing any dissenters and sending elderly protesters to work camps. Then there is the still unresolved matter of the Chinese Gymnastic team.
Some of these acts can be argued to be just a natural part of performance especially the ones that had to do with ceremonies. Others such as quietly jailing protesters are simply disturbing. However more than the acts themselves, what bothers me most is how they tried to hide it and use language to lie about the issue then once information is leaked, they keep coming up with reasons to why they did it that way. But what is truly interesting is that, many of organizers and leaders really believe they are justified to do what they did. It’s completely built into the CCP culture. They speak as if lying and putting up a fake image is ok and they mean it. They are indirectly teaching this to the next generation as they ask them to take part in the deception. It teaches them that this kind of action is a normal thing to do. This is what is truly heartbreaking. The young singer Yang Peiyi, the lipsyncing Lin Miaoke, the China gymnastic team (if they are found to be underage) all had to take part and even had to defend the claims directly. I cannot even start to factor in the impact it must have had on the millions of Chinese children and adults tuning in and seeing their very own government put up a facade.
For the next few weeks I will be posting about each of these acts and sharing my perspective on how it contributes in molding a particular way of thinking into its culture. So please come back and give your input on the comment sections.
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It was a ceremony, not a concert, get over yourself! It turned out that both Sydney and Athens’ performance contained “fraud” from the orchestra to the Olympic theme song, would you call them “deceived”? Keep sissing on a “snapshot of China” aka the Beijing Olympics does not help you get a better or deeper understanding of China and Chinese culture.
I think Jake has a point, but then again, if Sydney and Athens decided to lip-sync or pre-record the orchestra because the original players were black and they didn’t want black people to be so prominent, wouldn’t you have some problems with this? In other words, I think the problem that people are having with the “not cute enough” replacement is not that there was some kind of a “deception”, but because of the explicitly stated motivation for replacing someone, especially a child.
Furthermore, when there is some kind of covert lip-syncing (like in previous Olympics) among the adults, you implicitly know that there’s agreement on both sides.. Right? Because if there is no agreement, then that’s called fraud and could be prosecuted.
But when it comes to a child who sings and then is replaced because she’s too ugly, I am not sure if we could implicitly know that there was an agreement. I guess that’s why this incident is causing somewhat of a stir – because it involves a child.
I don’t think you can get a snapshot of Chinese culture or anything from this incident, though. Rather than seeing this incident as a snapshot of a particular culture, perhaps we can see this as a snapshot of our humanity that places so much value on physical beauty.