Beijing Deception

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Cutiepie Yang Peiyi sang a song for China.

Cutiepie Yang Peiyi sang a song for China. Source: AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Source: AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Mixed in with all the stories of Michael Phelps' gold-medal record chase and Jamaica's total dominance on the fast track, there have been a couple articles about the little bits of deceit — stagecraft? — in the Olympics' opening ceremonies in Beijing. Of course, there were those fake fireworks — digitally enhanced for the television audience, because they were too difficult to film. The bigger Talk story, though, seems to be the little girl who sang a patriotic hymn in the opening ceremony, but who didn't get to perform it because she was deemed unattractive by event organizers. A "prettier" girl took her place, Milli-Vanilli-ing her way through the recording by girl #1.

The public has met this revelation with varying degrees of outrage and understanding — just a tough game-time decision or simple cruelty? Masha Ma experienced something similar — though on a much smaller stage — as a child in China, and she didn't like the call. What do you think?

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The less attractive girl should probably get used to it; pretty people get alot more out of life, more easily than their less attractive counterparts. It's a lesson better learned earlier than later.

Sent by Sue | 3:05 PM | 8-18-2008

I'm no fan of Britteny Spears, but at least she lip-synced to her own voice! This is in regards to the arrogant western man (I believe he defended the use of computer generated "fireworks" footsteps as well?) interviewed last week who accused the NPR interviewer of not having been to any concerts lately!

Sent by Michele Kopinski | 3:15 PM | 8-18-2008

It's a matter of ETHICS. We hold the athletes to a performance standard; business to a commercial standard; expect people to be honest. We see how seriously these standards are being upheld by others with whom we interact when they try to fool the world in a public venue. Do they understand the behavior we expect when we are trying to promote eithical behavior in personal, business, and in the olmpics. Can't trust them in small things forget about the big things.

Sent by marjo Max | 3:58 PM | 8-18-2008

Stagecraft/deception being practiced by a national government? In order to improve the way the country or its people are perceived? Having been planned well in advance? How shocking!

Sent by Jon Roesler | 4:15 PM | 8-18-2008

As a long-time listener of NPR & TOTN, I'm astounded that Neil would put on a biased anti-China Fa Lun Gong shill posing as a "journalist". Has vetted her so-called "journalist" credentials? Aside from the discredited propaganda paper Epoch Times, has she EVER been published by any mainstream reputable paper?

As someone from Taiwan, I am bothered by many aspects of China's policies & actions, but allowing someone like Ma to come on w/ her UNSUBSTANTIATED stories (can you find ANY online records of what she said happened actually occurred?), damaging TOTN's reputation.

The parents of Lin Miaoke stated that although thier daughter auditioned to sing the song, she was not selected & that they were elated that she was later asked to lip-synch over Yang Peiyi's voice. They said they wer proud that thier daughter was able to represent China in SOME fashion.

That segues into Ma's lie about why there have been no protests in China during the Olympics. Although many Chinese nationals & Chinese living elsewhere have many qualms about China, our collective pride in being able to host the most elaborate & expensive Olympics ever puts our other concerns on hold.

I don't recall any Americans who might have problems w/ political policy issues trying to disrupt the Olympics when it was held here in Los Angeles. It was a time of nationalistic pride for America & bashing America (thus indirectly negatively impacting the athletes) for anyone's personal political agenda would & SHOULD be seen as UNPATRIOTIC.

One cannot but notice how many times Ma mentioned Communism as a tired boogeyman term, trying to push forward her agenda. Why couldn't she just say that she thought what China did w/ the substitution was wrong? What does that have to do w/ them being Communist or not? Even in her dubious story, she was still allowed to participate, communist country or not. And she was able to freely emigrate to Canda, was she not?

Lookism is not isolated to China. Look at how often others are replaced because they do not fit idealised apprearances. Wasn't Pierce Brosnon replaced because he started to look "too old", although his Bond flicks never lost money.

Fa Lun Gong members have a pernicious habit of lying & posing as hapless victims to try & get their agendas across. Their tactics turn off others even if they might otherwise agree w/ some of their stances or assertions.

Risking being long in the tooth, here's just one UNDISPUTABLE example: They constantly want to participate in the Chinese New Year's Parade here in SF, but REFUSE to go through w/ sign-up proceedures & just show up. When asked to leave, they'll pull the 'they are censoring us" card. Nevermind that most of the Chinese Association members are pro-Tiwan & anti-Communist China. If they want to, they can apply for city permits to do demonstrations, but again, refuse to, thinking they are above rules & regulations that apply to others. That is how they gained the ire of China's authorities.

Hello. They are a COMMUNIST country w/ rules for everything & if you feel you are not subject to them, how can you act surprised they come down on you like a ton of bricks?

Sent by TCY | 6:47 PM | 8-18-2008

I'm disappointed that Talk of the Nation at least twice labeled this a scandal. A scandal at the Olympics is when an athlete has another perform on their behalf or cheats in one way or another, not when one singer is dubbed by another. Do we really think we heard the actual singing voices of Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Do you realy think Brad Pitt does all his own stunts or some actresses don't use body doubles. You may be disappointed, but get over it and stop tyrying to be judgmental. This was the opening ceremomy, not a rock concert by a promoted perfrormer. One more news flash, the torch bearer wasn't really running sideways around the facade of the stadium.

Sent by Don Tate | 8:03 PM | 8-18-2008

This is just a show, best image and performance are important, which is completely irrelative to deception or honesty. As a chinese, I don't think this olympic ceremony fooled the world. If we must find the difference of understanding between China and outside, I would say the different thinking style and ideology are the answer to the question. Come to China and learn more about her will be the effective way to solve your (western people) suspicions.

Sent by Irene Zhou | 3:49 AM | 8-19-2008