I’m taking a cue from L. Ro., who has this great post about Olympic culture on her WNYC blog. Because, I too, in theory, am a fan of the Olympics. I think, as a mechanism for global interaction that celebrates the feats of the human body, while fostering sportsmanship and appreciation of cultural differences, the Olympics have the potential to do real good in the world.
However, these Olympics games, at every step of the way, are being undermined by the Chinese government’s insistence upon manipulating perceptions of their country. The lengths to which they seem to go to in order to foster illusions of perfection are really astounding. And annoying.
Strike 1: There was the digital insertion of fireworks into the televised broadcast of the games.
Strike 2: Then we find out that the little girl who was passed off as “singing” the special I-want-to-fuck-my-country theme song, was actually pulling an Ashley Simpson. And the little girl whose voice everyone heard has probably been shipped off to some mardi gras bead-making factory because she wasn’t cute enough to represent all 1billion of her countrymen.
Strike 3: And this is the one that got me, last night, as I was watching the American girls gymnastics team (and every other girls team except for China’s) put their heart and guts on the line, competing fairly and honestly, against a Chinese team that cheated by letting girls under the age of 16 compete on their Olympic team. It’s obvious. It’s obvious. It’s obvious.
Now, ok, fine. Who’s to say that other teams aren’t trying to cheat in other ways. It’s always hard to prove.
But, it’s really beginning to wear–not even a complete week into the games–always having to deal with China’s endemic practice of artifice-making. And NBC’s complacent, even apologetic attitude regarding such issues is so blatant. They paid almost a billion dollars to have the broadcast rights, so there’s no way in hell they’re going to criticize the host country. It’s pathetic.
Furthermore, what’s passing for sports journalism is really coming off as “tales from the tourists.” The immaturity, caution, and non-critical Disney wonder at China and its culture is just getting to be too much for me.
At one point last night, one of the commenters–I wasn’t sure if it was Bob Costas or the other guy cuz they were cutting to a picture of the Chinese girls–said something to the effect of, “These girls are taken away from their families from a very young age…err…you know…not kicking and screaming or anything like that…”
Excuse me, but any government that takes little girls away from their families in order to serve the government and doesn’t allow the girls to see their families except for once a year, SUCKS. And for our news casters to constantly apologize is simply hypocracy at its lowest. There is no journalism here. There is only damage control, which is complicity, which is playing into the manipulative activities of the Chinese government. Ergo, NBC’s reporters are working for the Chinese government.
What we need, and what we won’t get, is a critical view of China that, while allowing the Olympics to move forward, does not flag one iota in holding China up to the light. These games are coming off more and more as a ruse, and a giant PR campaign.
It makes sense though, that China and corporations invest similarly into their images. In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at why, and why the Greek concept of Eros has everything to do with fake fireworks and lip-syncing.
Read Part 2