Keepin’ it Real Fake: Olympic Style

girl on the left not cute enough

girl on the right not cute enough

There has been some consternation in the British press over the last couple of days over the ‘revelation’ that the cute little girl who sang at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics wasn’t actually the girl singing. The girl who was actually singing had been deemed insufficiently cute, and hidden behind a curtain somewhere like a diminutive oriental Wizard of Oz.

This revelation has been greeted with incredulity by papers such as the Telegraph. Apparently, this sort of fakery is just not done. It’s not cricket (obviously). But really, what’s the fuss?

I have to say that I have been quite impressed by the sheer pragmatism China has displayed in its organisation of these Olympics. Singing girl not cute enough? Replace her with a more photogenic one. Impressive fireworks a danger to your filming helicopter? Do a digital version for the live TV feed. Not enough spectators? Bus in some appropriately cheer-y volunteers. Infernal smog a danger to health of athletes (and making it hard to see)? Close down all the factories, and ban ordinary citizens from driving within the city limits. Just brilliant.

Yes its fakery and ubercontrolfreakery. But, could you really imagine any western country getting away with something like this? If, in four years time, the London authorities tried to stop ordinary Londoners driving their cars… well, the result would not be pretty. It would probably involve a lot of white van men blockading the Olympic site.

So the girl on stage wasn’t actually singing. So what?! It made a good show. It is quite possible that there will never be another Olympics quite like this one, because there isn’t a nation on earth quite capable of controlling all the variables as the Chinese, who are quite determined that this will be as big, and spectacular, and flawless as it could possibly be. All the moaning on this is just jealousy, because we all know that there is no way any of us (the UK, the US, even Russia) could get away with controlling the message to that degree.

Yes, China is a totalitarian state with limited freedoms and an overinflated sense of its own importance. But they sure do it with style

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