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China’s 2008 Beijing Olympics Media Part II : Beauty is King

1 September 2008 No Comment
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As everyone has heard by now, it was later found that the cute little girl, Lin Miaoke, was lip syncing while the original girl, Yang Peiyi, was yanked from the program last minute told to sing from backstage because she wasn’t “flawless in image” according to the musical director of the olympics. The musical director said the reasons were for national interest and that the child on camera should be “flawless in image, internal feelings and expression. Lin Miaoke is excellent in these aspects”. “The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation,” said Chen Qigang. The interview appeared briefly on the Chinese news website Sina before it disappeared.

“What was best for the nation”. Do you believe what they did was best for the nation?

My first thought when I heard this news was thinking about what kind of message this sent to the two little girls involved as well as to the rest of the viewers. Yang Peiyi was basically told that if you aren’t pretty you can’t be on stage or in other words there is a limit to how far you can go if you don’t have the looks. Despite her incredible voice, it was her physical appearance that held her back. In an interview the General Music Designer slipped in saying she wasn’t attractive enough and had crooked teeth. This was indeed tragic as she is so young. What do you say to her when she asks why she isn’t being allowed to go stage but has to sing in a mic as another girl pretends to be singing?

Though Lin Miaoke got the stage time, I think her situation is even worse in that now she has tasted a bit of fame resulting from her physical appearance. What kind of message and thoughts of how the world works and what she should value will she carry for the rest of her life? It is no surprise that her debut is earning her a lot of attention and accolades as newspapers in China are already calling her a new star born out of olympics. Do you find this worrisome at all? I do. She may find a lot of fame but at what cost? How will she determine her value or worth as she continues down this path? What kind of example will she become for future children who may end up looking up to her or seeing her through the media?

Also what kind of message does this send to the rest of the viewers both in China and abroad? Hopefully most adults are able to at least feel some sense of “wrong” in what happened. Though some may argue that this is a performance so whatever goes, I would hope that when thinking directly about the girls involved we can all feel like this could have been, at the minimum, handled in some other way. I imagine myself as the mother of Yang Peiyi and how heartbreaking it is to know your child was bumped off because of her looks and having to explain that to her. Yang Peiyi said she was honored to have the role, but she knows she didn’t get to sing for her country in public because of her looks. Such an experience could really mess up a person’s psyche.

So was what they did really best for the nation? China was already struggling to take off the image of being a closed country. A reputation for one that controls the media through propaganda and quickly suppressing and even jailing those who criticize the government. As I’ll mention later in a future post, many were expecting a lot of protests during the olympics especially in regards to China’s humanitarian issues. However China required those who want to protest to apply to get “approved” to protest and they turned down all 72, then proceeded to jail and send some of those who submitted the applications to work camps. They then turned around and proclaimed how the Olympics was protest free. The best thing the country could have done, in my humble opinion, was to not simply share all of China’s rich history, traditions, and cultures but also come forth and admit to areas they need to improve upon and show some of their national efforts in their commitment to humanitarian rights. This would have done wonders in the eyes of the other countries. However small incidences like these have only fueled the kind of suspicious tension that we still have today.

But one thing is still for sure. The message that was sent to these two girls, their families, and those who were watching in regards to the value of beauty is not for the better. I pray this experience won’t mess up these precious girls.

Agree? Disagree? Have thought’s you’d like to add. Please comment below!

Part I – Intro

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