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    August 12, 2008

    Milli Vanilli Nation

    Posted by: Chris

    Chinesegirls It's been interesting to view the Olympics through the lens of my country of exile. Like back home, the broadcast network here (O Globo) is all-Brazil almost all the time -- even though the country's medal total thus far has been a few bronzes in judo and swimming. (That judo is fun to watch, I will admit!)

    It's also been fun to watch the host country get the special treatment that only the international press knows how to dish out. I remember like it was yesterday how frustrating it was to live in Atlanta in the build-up to the '96 Games, which were absolutely incredible despite the (anti-gay, in part, as it turns out) park bombing. Every logistical error was magnified, while the 99.9% that functioned as well or better than expected was ignored.

    China, of course, richly deserves much of the black eye it's getting in coverage, for its disregard for even basic human rights and its state control over everything down the smallest detail -- literally. Even the tiny girl (pictured above, right) who wowed an international viewing audience during the opening ceremonies was a fake -- lip syncing the voice of another little girl (pictured above, left).

    But the real jaw-dropper was the back story:

    "The reason was for the national interest," said Chen Qigang, the ceremony's musical director, in a state radio interview. "The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression. ... Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects."

    The decision was made at the highest levels, Chen said.

    "We had to do it," he said. "We'd been through several inspections. They're all very strict. When we rehearsed at the spot, there were several spectators from various divisions, especially leaders from the Politburo, who gave the opinion it must change."

    As with much of state-control, this high-level decision ended up a complete mess, accomplishing the exact opposite of what was intended. If only China's dictators would catch a hint…



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