Not Cute Enough to Appear Before Millions? General Nonsense 15 AUG 2008

Lin MiaokeSo like almost everyone else around you (the estimate currently lies at 1 billion having seen it), you must have seen the absolutely brilliantly flamboyant and spectacular opening ceremony extravaganza that marked the start of the 29th Summer Olympic games.

As was to be expected, China spent more than what some countries earn in a year on the showpiece and it really turned out to be one of those masterpiece visual feasts that one gets to talk about for years to come.

It’s just a little unfortunate that thanks to the latest news, the show has lost just that little bit of its initial lustre.

The first blow to the Chinese came with their admission that certain bits of the fireworks sequences, particularly the mind-blowing brilliant 29 Footsteps scene, had in fact been pre-recorded, digitally enhanced and then digitally added directly into the live feed over fears of poor outside visibility and camera inability to capture the event as originally envisioned. True, the digital stitch in was so well done that one hardly picked up on the fraud at all, so the effect certainly worked as intended, but one can’t help but feel a little cheated after learning of the ‘live’ deception.

However, the latest blow is the one to cause the hugest furore across the world, namely the admission that the cute as a button little singing 9-year old girl was in fact not the voice we were hearing over the speakers at the time.

Now pure lip synching wouldn’t have been such a problem because one understands that sometimes it is necessary for these big events, like for the last Winter Games where a sick Pavarotti would never have been able to pull off a live performance in that cold or where a little 9 year old girl is expected to stand up in the middle of a huge, crowded stadium and faultlessly sing a song of national pride as the Chinese national flag is being brought into view.

No, the problem lies in the fact that the reason behind the deception is that the real little girl singing the song was in fact deemed not pretty or perfect enough to appear in the centre of what has been deemed a symbol of Chinese national pride.

Little 7 year old Yang Peiyi (pictured bottom right) was selected out of the hundreds of girls who had applied as having the most beautiful voice and grasp of the song, “Ode to the Motherland”. However, right at the last minute a decision was made to substitute her out of the ceremony and introduce the far cuter 9 year old Lin Miaoke (pictured top right and bottom left) who was deemed to be more visually cute and thus inline with the image of perfection that the Chinese wanted to present to the world. So poor little Peiyi got to stand and sing behind the curtains while little Miaoke got to stand out on center stage, pretend to sing and bask in the adoration of millions – doesn’t quite seem fair does it?

Oh well, I can understand why the Chinese made the decision that they made – this was intended as a cinematic spectacle and one hardly ever chooses unattractive lead stars on purpose, but you have got to feel for the little girls who may certainly not feel the effects of what has been done to them right now, but what most certaily may have a lasting impact on them as they grow up and reach those all important formative teenage years.

So the opening ceremony has now taken a little knock and the Chinese nation an even bigger one, but with all the controversy surrounding that country and their hosting of the event anyway, one doubts that they will even feel it.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.