I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I need to stop reading the BBC. I find world news long before anyone else here does and, when it sickens me, it gets to sicken me more and more as the day progresses and I read more and more about it.
I am not even sure where to start when it comes to this. I hadn’t really considered watching much of the Olympics, but because of the number of articles about it, I couldn’t help but know what was happening and root for Michael Phelps. I think what is most interesting, for me anyway, is my initial perception about the title of the article. The Brits say “mimed;” Americans say “lip-synced.” When I first read “mime,” I thought, “Well, how wonderful! A little girl who is some kind of national celebrity over there put down the mic to do some kind of mime for the deaf community…” but as I continued reading, a clear understanding of the word “mime” came to me and my surprise over something that sounded so cute turned into absolute disgust. I’m not even going to get started on the CGI fireworks…
Through all the articles I’ve read, I have heard the word “mistake” used here or there. This was no mistake. This was a calculated move by that government and it sickens me. Instead of showing a China that has moved away from the dark and negative imagery of the latter part of the 20th Century, officials gave the naysayers exactly what they wanted.
There is nothing at all wrong with Yang Peiyi. She is a seven-year-old girl and by definition adorable in her own rights, but…the government officials took one look at her round face and little crooked teeth and said, “Um…sorry. You sing great love, but you look hit so we’re going with another girl…though we’re still using your voice.” If China had shown Yang singing just the way she is, it would have made a far greater impact on the world. China would be showcasing its sheer talent in its greatest form, not showing the world, and the West especially, what they think the world wants to see.
A little girl singing a perfect song would have been perfect no matter what she looked like. She may not have turned into an instant pop star like Lin Miaoke had, but what a beautiful message for China to send to the world and to its people. I know I must sound like just another American imparting the “American dream” on the rest of the world, but what is so wrong with letting the millions of other little girls who look more like Yang Peiyi than Lin Miaoke that they can still be someone. That no matter who you are or where you come from, you can still make something of yourself. But no…that is not the message China chose to display. Instead, they decide that the real singer, regardless of how much talent she has, is just note cute enough to represent her country. Thank goodness China does not choose its athletes like it chooses the “face of China.” Otherwise, we would see scandals emerging about swimmers who are actually Mexican, but have eyes that can pass as Chinese, Hungarian sprinters who have hair and skin just dark enough to appear Chinese, and eventually light-skinned black basketball players who had a little Chinese somewhere in the ancestry. I am thoroughly disgusted.
What disgusts me most about this is the fact that there were options other than this available. The rationales I keep reading, “It was the image of our national music, our national culture. And especially since it accompanied the arrival of the national flag in the arena, this was an extremely serious matter.” are all such bull. It wasn’t like they learned two weeks before 8/8/08 that they were going to host the Olympics. They had years to come up with this. Even if they started in January, there are a billion people in China! There is no way they could not find a little girl who had both the voice and face they needed. And, if little Yang was still not pretty enough by their standards, why not throw some braces and a wig on her and make it happen. Makeup artists and hair stylists do it all the time on American Idol. Clay Aiken looked like an alien before the makeup team got to him. Honestly, I think I would have been less horrified if I heard that they had Yang Peiyi lip-sync to her own song while wearing a wig, false eyelashes and dentures.
I just don’t understand how anyone could have thought this was a good idea at the time. It was bound to leak and do nothing but disgrace China. Instead of shining a positive light on themselves, the world is looking at them and shaking its head. If China had just presented themselves as they are, it would have been beautiful. An Olympics without global pause would have been the most perfect way for China to open themselves up to the world. Instead, here we are. What is even worse is that the imagery I saw from the opening ceremonies was beautiful, but none of that will ever be remembered no matter how hard anyone tries. When history looks back on the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympic games in Beijing, the only thing to be mentioned is scandal.