Beijing's 'O-Lipsync' Games More than 2 billion people watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing. NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr muses on the fakery — from fireworks to a stand-in for seven-year-old singer — employed by a China obsessed with a picture-perfect representation.
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Beijing's 'O-Lipsync' Games

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Beijing's 'O-Lipsync' Games

Beijing's 'O-Lipsync' Games

Beijing's 'O-Lipsync' Games

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More than 2 billion people watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing. NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr muses on the fakery — from fireworks to a stand-in for seven-year-old singer — employed by a China obsessed with a picture-perfect representation.

ROBERT SMITH, host:

While swimmer Michael Phelps seems to be the hot topic of conversation when it comes to the Olympics, NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr just can't seem to get over the images of the games' opening ceremonies.

DANIEL SCHORR: The "O-Lipsync" Games, I guess you can call them. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games watched by more than 2 billion around the globe, and there was 9-year-old Lin Miaoke in fetching red dress and pigtails singing "Ode to the Motherland" - except she wasn't singing. She was moving her lips, but the synchronized voice you heard was 7-year-old Yang Peiyi. Not as good-looking, but a better singer.

Talk about the Chinese and face. This was face on a truly Olympic scale. And this was not the only piece of concocted reality in this obsession for presenting a picture-perfect representation of the emerging China. There were also the spectacular fireworks, some of which weren't fireworks at all but a clever computer simulation. There was also the series of fireworks footprints, 29 of them for the 29th Olympiad seen in an aerial shot. Most of what you saw at home was computer-generated as well.

Does it matter in this age of virtual reality when the way things seem to be often substitutes for the way things are? Anyone who has worked in motion pictures or television can tell you of the clever ways that are used to create a digital reality. I have myself been seen standing in front of the White House, which was then dubbed in in the studio. I have been seen nodding my head in reaction to what an interviewee has said when in fact, the reaction shots were filmed later.

It is a little unsettling to learn that you have been deceived by an illusion. But then, aren't the Olympics one grand illusion anyway? Nobody can really swim that way, or jump that well, or run that well, or can they? And little Lin Miaoke, how must she have felt when she learned she was singing her heart out over a dead microphone? I hope the Communist leadership tells her that she did her bit for the glory of the motherland. This is Daniel Schorr.

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