How important is it that what we see on television–or in movies–is real and unaltered?
Me? I don’t care too much. When I go to watch Lord of the Rings, I fully anticipate special effects, digital supplements, and all manner of enhancements to make the actual finished product more effective than it would have otherwise been.
We live in a digital age–a time when images we see on screen or in print are rarely left unadulterated. The mainstream population of the world seems to acknowledge this–even embrace it, rewarding designers and filmmakers for best visual effects.
Why, then, does this story seem to rub so many–myself included–the wrong way?
China’s opening ceremony was beautiful, as I have already noted. Sure, there were some digital “tweaks,” like those massive firework footprints racing throughout Beijing, but that’s not what bothers me. What annoys me is that Chinese officials knowingly allowed this little girl, Yang Peiyi:
to sing “Ode to the Motherland” into a microphone, probably hidden away behind some curtain backstage. Meanwhile, while her visual counterpart, Lin Miaoke:
lip-synced the song for the world the night of the opening ceremonies.
I thought this sort of thing was over and done when Singin’ in the Rain came out in 1952. I mean, are we that superficial a world? Honestly?
It’s already bad enough for these poor little Chinese girls as it is: they are most likely the sole child in their family, since Chinese women are allowed, by law, to have one child only. And inasmuch as they are girls, they are already considered slightly unwanted by Chinese standards. Now, added to the pressure of making their parents’ one shot worthwhile, the girls are being taught that they fall short of their country’s standard of perfection.
I can see how it happened…
“Well, Yang Peiyi, there’s no doubt about it: you’ve got a great set of lungs. Unfortunately for you, you’re not much of a looker. Your haircut is rather square, isn’t it? And those teeth have got to go. How about you give the government your best efforts–your voice–and we’ll take care of the rest? That’s right…you just stand right over there, behind the stereos and equipment all night. Make sure nobody sees you…Hu Jintao forbid.”
And to Lin Miaoke…
“Lin, you sure are a pretty little thing, aren’t you? Unfortunately for you, your singing resembles a pack of cats in heat, so here’s what we’re going to do: You just go put on this fancy new dress…that’s right, dear. Remember to suck in, and make sure your mother puts your hair in pigtails–that’s what the people want to see…”
In the end, I don’t know which girl I feel worse for. On one hand, Yang Peiyi is learning that despite her very best efforts, she may never receive recognition for her successes. On the other hand, Lin Miaoke is being taught that, even with nothing to merit her, a pretty face is worth more than hard work or refining talents.
Sucking the best out of everyone’s lives and giving it all towards the support of one’s government… Call it Socialism, call it Communism…at the end of the day, it disgusts me. It’s one thing to have a single lawnmower for an entire neighborhood, with every family using it only as needed. It’s quite another to make one little girl give up her voice–and another one give up her face–in the pursuit of perfection for the onlooking world.
I’m so thankful that the red of my country’s flag is also merged with white and blue.