Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fabricating the "flawless": A lesson in irony from Beijing

The most recent, and most ridiculous, controversy at the Beijing Olympics deserves some kind of mention. In case you hadn't been paying attention, it turns out that the incredibly adorable 9 year old (left) who sang "Ode to the Motherland" at the opening ceremonies didn't actually sing it. Instead, it was a 7 year old (right) who wasn't given the honor or recognition because she was deemed too unattractive.

But don't take my word for it. Here's what Chen Qigang, the music designer for the opening ceremonies, told Radio Beijing: "The reason why little Yang [the girl on the right] was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation. The reason was for the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression."

This is, of course, unintentionally hilarious: while his job was, in part, to push this image of the exemplary Chinese child as a perfect one, he's subsequently been forced to admit that this ideal Chinese child that was paraded on stage is not simply exceptional, but that she in fact does not actually exist - that he had to fabricate her from the parts of real children, discarding what didn't fit. That the irony of this doesn't seem to occur to the people running the games is, I think, a little bit sad and a larger bit distressing.


Ellstar said...

I 'called' that when I watched the Opening Ceremonies, but was optimistic enough to assume she was singing to a pre-recorded tape of herself. I was bummed that I was wrong, but really not that surprised.

neilshyminsky said...

I assumed that it was just really well-rehearsed - what with the gasp of breath being the sort of detail that people who orchestrate a lip-synch usually overlook. But no, it's not terribly surprising, I suppose.