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China’s lip-synch Olympics
How far is Beijing willing to go for a flawless show?
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hat happened
Chinese officials acknowledged that 9-year-old Lin Miaoke, the girl who sang “Ode to the Motherland” at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, was lip-synching to the voice of 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was deemed insufficiently cute for the occasion. “The child on camera should be flawless,” explained music director Chen Qigang. Officials also said some of the ceremony’s fireworks were digitally added for TV and stadium viewers. (The Australian)

What the commentators said
The digital “fireworks fudge” can be “written off as artistic license,” said Aileen McCabe in Canada’s The Windsor Star, but the lip-synching “is a different story.” What does it tell us that the “gap-toothed, chubby faced” Yang, who “sang her heart out,” gets “no recognition at all”?

“It stinks that the little singer didn’t get her day in the spotlight,” said the blog GlossLip, but come on, is anyone really surprised by the ceremony’s artifice? “It was put together by a movie director, for cryin’ out loud.” Sure, China wants “perfection,” but we're just as bad. “Do we make media darlings out of the ugly swimmers or gymnasts or softball players?”

There’s nothing wrong with China “trying hard to present an ideal image of itself,” said Mark Selfe in the blog Red Herring, but this fake performance, and the media’s knowing endorsement of it, shows China’s “flippant attitude” toward the truth. Lin is now a “national celebrity” with a bright future, but let's hope Yang “grows up and gets her day in the sun,” too.

Certainly if Yang Peiyi were American, said AJ Daulerio in the blog Deadspin, “she would be destined for a life of painful rhinoplasty, fat camps, and crippling self-esteem issues.” But she’s not. And in an interview before “she had the brown bag placed back over her head,” she seemed “acutely self-aware of her own limitations and completely comfortable with it.”

Yang, and China’s government, might be fine with the lip-synching, said Clifford Coonan in The Irish Times, but China’s “webizens were horrified at the message this sends to children” about body image. It will be a shame if the government’s “bit of virtual sleight-of-hand” overshadows the “real progress and genuine development” that the Beijing games have brought to China.

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