Wednesday, August 27, 2008
First there was Disney's The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, the London Tipton character is spoiled, self-absorbed.
On Cake TV (yes, I said, "Cake TV"), the character Miracle is a - wait for it - spoiled, self absorbed Asian-American.
Now there is a Washington Mutual ad featuring an Asian-American professional woman who fantasizes about slipping into pink, fur-trimmed and racing across the salt flats in a pink rocket powered car.
In each of these cases the women are bailed out by their white friends. The amazing thing here is how easily Americans can shift from one insulting stereotype to another without any seeming awareness of what is going on.
Friday, August 15, 2008
On Friday, China acknowledged that children clad in ethnic costume who carried the Chinese flag at the ceremony were not actually from any of China's 56 minority ethnic groups.This was not how it was perceived in my household. We thought it was actually representatives of the 56 groups (I must admit, they all looked more "Chinese" than I expected). Perhaps in other parts of the world, this is acceptable. This would never fly in America. Imagine performers in black-face at the Atlanta games.
And this is just pathetic:
Faced with partially empty arenas, authorities have mobilized armies of volunteers to attend Olympic events, despite the fact that all seven million tickets to the Summer Games were sold out or distributed to national Olympic committees.
Some of the Chinese spectators appear lost at the intricacies of the events they watch as they sit in blocks in stands, wearing colored T-shirts and waving flags.
IOC member Kai Holm, a Dane, called them "phony spectators."
"They sit around in small groups, some in yellow shirts, some in red shirts," Holm said. "They do not understand the rules of the game they cheer. It's a little bit funny."
Holm said leaders tell volunteers when to cheer: "They are applauding by signs."
Jeez! The Chinese Government thinks that we will all be impressed by such transparent attempts at a Potemkin Olympics.
Here's a tip Politburo: Take the rocks with the gems and you will be welcomed as a peer by the rest of us mediocre countries.
Update: My infinitely wise partner pointed out that she assumed that the children in the opening ceremony were were merely normal children dressed in ethnic costumes.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Now it seems that the cute little girl who sang "Ode to the Motherland" during the Opening Ceremonies i the Beijing Olympics wasn't quite cute enough. A member of China's Politburo official decided that a cuter little girl would lip-sync Yang Peiyi's recorded performance.
I understand that Pavarotti lip-synced his own voice at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. Apparently there was concern for the ailing star's health in the cold air. China, on the other hand, tried to spin the whole world. If the Olympics are not about authentic performance and spectacular, though real, feats then what is it about?
Monday, August 11, 2008
Aesthetics aside, however, there is the undercurrent of China's "coming out." Did the Chinese government really think that acing the opening ceremonies and netting the most medals will impress the whole world. Did they think that suddenly the world would say,
"Gee, my impression of China as a repressive country that jails journalists and monitor's tourists internet traffic was completely off base!
"Now that I have seen how masterful their Tae Kwon Do masters are and how dominant their rowers and synchronized divers are, I know that they are cuddly as a Luxembourger. Why, they are not a diplomatic or commercial rival at all!"
As if throwing your entire government into an enterprise detracts from the obvious fact that the government, at least, is authoritarian. We have seen the Three Gorges Dam, thank you very much. Point made.
Just as likely, I suppose, is that the event is aimed at building up the pride of the Chinese themselves. A proud and nationalistic Chinese population might prove more pliant to the ruling Communist party. What such a tool might be used for is yet to be seen.