Posted by: Ken Brown | August 13, 2008

Image Is Everything…

Jim West points to the revelation that the cute little girl who sang at the Opening Ceremony last Friday was lip-synching. Chinese officials now admit, the real singer wasn’t cute enough:

One little girl had the looks. The other had the voice. So in a last-minute move demanded by one of China’s highest officials, the two were put together for the Olympic opening ceremony, with one lip-synching “Ode to the Motherland” over the other’s singing. The real singer, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, with her chubby face and crooked baby teeth, wasn’t good-looking enough for the ceremony, chief music director Chen Qigang told state-owned Beijing Radio. So pigtailed 9-year-old Lin Miaoke, a veteran of television ads, mouthed the words with a pixie smile for a stadium of 91,000 and a worldwide TV audience. “We had to make that choice. It was fair both for Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi,” Chen told Beijing Radio. “We combined the perfect voice and the perfect performance.”

Jim responds:

And that, curiously, sums up the whole of China. It is a society dominated by a facade. Underneath, it’s something quite different than the face it puts on for the world. Its fake Gucci bags and its fake churches and its fake singers are all part and parcel of the falsity endemic to the government of that ancient culture.

As if to prove the point, even as the Chinese government tried to defend the choice, they were quietly forcing the major Chinese news outlets to remove all references to the incident from their websites. In fact, it turns out this wasn’t the only part of the ceremony that was staged. The 55-second opening sequence, including the giant footprints leading to the stadium, were CGI:

According to The Beijing Times what people inside the stadium and watching on television saw were computer graphics of the footprints inserted into coverage.

Gao Xiaolong, the head of the opening ceremony visual effects team, said it had taken almost a year to create the 55-second sequence.

Actual fireworks could be seen outside the stadium but it was logistically impossible to film them by helicopter, so the decision was made to recreate the effect digitally. The last foot print was visible from inside the stadium and was captured on film.

But you can’t just pin the fakery on China, this is just a symptom of our television culture which routinely replaces image for substance. After all, NBC itself isn’t free from guilt in their presentation of the games.

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