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MUNDANE DISTRACTIONS
Beijing Bashing 
12th-Aug-2008 10:07 pm
Well, the Olympics have been fairly politic free from what I've seen. Which I have to admit is pretty difficult when two countries pretty much kick off blasting each other to hell with heavy artillery the night the Olympics officially kick off.

Now we're seeing a different kind of attack happening, an attack on China and how they're conducting and participating in some parts of the Olympics.

I watched the opening ceremony when it was televised on NBC (in HD thank you very much). I must say that I was awestruck by the event. It was huge, it was massive, it was coordinated. Now some people want to point out that parts of it were fake. Obviously this is being done to bring forth the major conspiracy that is "faking it." Nobody fakes anything these days. It's all real or it's all dismissed. Right? Wrong.

The first thing that was reported about the opening ceremony that was "fake" (that I read at least) were parts of the fireworks display. I mean, how could people be so conniving as to fake a...wait...what? People are getting bent out of shape due to the fact that some of the fireworks were fake? Seriously? This is freaking news? Who gives a damn? Unless it can be shown that an Olympic committee was billed for 3 billion bottle rockets and they were shorted 100 thousand...screw it. My god, is this something being covered by a reporter or a blogger?

I realized recently that in my mind the difference between a reporter and a blogger SHOULD be that bloggers go with an "I'm first" mentality ("I totally beat you posting about that by like 10 seconds") while reporters should be digging up and verifying facts (like making sure a type font used in a fake letter regarding the president existed when the letter was supposedly written...ooh, beat by bloggers). "Fake" fireworks. Sorry, non-issue. I mean, unless I find out that China somehow generated the majority of the crowd inside the Bird's Nest was generated via CGI and the real people there couldn't tell...whatever. 'Course if China did do such a thing that would be sooooooo cool...and frightening.

The next piece of falsehood has to do with the young girl who sang (or to be accurate didn't sing) "Ode to the Motherland" during the opening ceremony. Apparently someone decided that the actual girl who sang the song wasn't "good looking enough" (that's a statement in the article...not from a Chinese representative from what I've read). Now, I actually do have an issue with this, but I'm going to let the Chinese people handle this one as it has to do with a value statement of one of their youth's appearance. Unlike many I think the Chinese citizens and deal with this as they see fit.

Plus, I don't think most countries that are covering this as an issue have any place to reprimand ANYONE for making calls on anyone's "attractiveness" unless they are actively combating unrealistic expectations of "beauty" in their own countries. Shut it, zip it, stuff it. You're hypocrites. The same goes for the fact that the girl was lip-syncing. The article above makes reference to the fact that Luciano Pavarotti's performance at the 2006 Winter Games was also prerecorded (regardless of the "why"...it still happened). Again, I think this is a non-issue as prerecorded performances are becoming commonplace in today's performance world (I think it's lame and shows how little faith producers and/or artists have in ability), but in the case of the US I think we're still overly sensitive from the whole Milli Vanilli thing.

So how about how China is doing in the Olympics? For now they're doing well...REAL well. So, I'll give it about a month until after the games are done before all the accusations really start flying (no idea on if they'll be valid or not...I just figure they'll come). Ooh, but we have accusations already to go. Apparently NBC gymnastics commentator Bela Karolyi doesn't believe the members of the Chinese women's gymnastics team are old enough to compete in the Olympics. That's right, he doesn't believe some of the women are 16. Wait, what? Women are 16? Since when? Alright, so we're working with a pre-established level of inaccuracy/idiocy in labeling of the event to begin with (that's always good). But, moving beyond that I really don't know what to say about the whole age thing. Actually, I do, but first I should say that Canada has come out in defense of China's team. Now to what I have to say.

I have a friend in China (yes, they are Chinese). I have been there and met her personally. I have also seen pictures of her at various ages during her life. Here are some things that "bias" my view of the gymnast thing towards believing that the girls...uh.."women"...could be old enough to compete. First, my friend is 4'10" and that's all she is growing. When I met her she was in her mid 20s and depending on what she wore she looked like she could be in her teens. I saw pictures of her in high school, she looked like she could have been in elementary school. Again, I'm biased. But, while Mr. Karolyi can make the statement that he is a parent and "knows" what an underage girl (woman!, sorry) looks like...the last I checked he wasn't a Chinese parent of a Chinese female (hah! loophole) who was geared to be a gymnast. As someone said, the competitors aren't trees so they can't count their rings (and I believe some folks would if they could). Even if China is lying they're only exploiting a loophole in the system (how age is "proven"), and while it would be pretty pathetic for China to exploit that loophole they didn't create it. The fact that the loophole exists shows a problem with Olympics overall, and considering such accusations have flown (age falsification) in the little league world series...you can bet it's gonna happen again in the future.

It almost makes me miss the political statements people were trying to make before the games...almost.

Michael Phelps is a badass. Mary Carillo's voice scares me. Mark Spitz is an arrogant crybaby.

Go U.S.A.!
Torchwood - "That is SO welsh"
Comments 
13th-Aug-2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Frankly, I can see Mark Spitz's point, though. I was in my 20's when I saw him break record after record. He is correct to say that Michael Phelps is just like him. I think the IOC should have had Mark there to watch him. It's a passing of the torch of one extraordinary athelete to the other. It's really a special moment in US Olympic history.

What *I* find objectionable (besides the Milli Vanilli thing with that young girl, who didn't look ugly to me) is the way they have blocked VISAS for atheletes who run a non profit group to benefit the victims of Darfur. The ones who are barred don't want to say too much, because 70+ of their members from a heck of a lot of countries are participating in the games and they don't want the government to kick them out. Those atheletes were going to drum up interest among their peers for their DARFUR charity. Not China, not Tibet, DARFUR. What does that say about China and their stand on human rights?
14th-Aug-2008 12:49 am (UTC)
I can agree with Spitz up to an idea of something like "it would be nice." However, I think his idea that he could be the one to present Phelps with the medals is egotistical. That would just make things crazy for ANY records/milestones being broken to start setting up that precident. Also, for him to be in Hong Kong while making the comments...eeehhhhh. What, he can't get the rest of the way on his own dime?

I don't agree with the barring of people who wanted to create support for Darfur among their peers either. However, those people had to have some idea of the impact being in both circles could have. I don't like China's decision but it's their country and their decision.

The thing is there were (are?) some retired Olympic competitors who have encouraged the atheletes to use the Olympics as a venue to bring attention to political/social issues. Easy to say when you're not competing anymore. Easy to say when you don't have to give up your chance at a medal. What I really hope is that those athletes who weren't allowed into China can stand proud that they stood firm for their beliefs.

Being a "role model" because you performed well at the Olympics is fine, but I think being a "role model" because you showed you're willing to make the tough choice...that's what people should be looking for.

The athletes who are putting their personal beliefs to the side for the sake of a medal (even if they're doing it due to pride in their country)...they gotta work that out themselves. AND they better be willing to be called on such a compromise later. If not, I fear that in the long run they could do more damage than good to any cause they support.
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