Opening ceremony's wind, fireworks, singing not quite live
BEIJING -- For those of us who thought there was something weird about Beijing’s flawless-but-sterile opening ceremony, well, we were right.
I knew something was strange when the Chinese and Olympic flags blew dramatically in a breeze that did not exist anywhere else in the suffocating National Stadium.
Turns out, they were powered by special devices in the flagpoles.
I also thought it was odd that, while everybody back home was praising the fireworks displays, those of us in the stadium saw nothing more than your average Friday night post-Angels-game display.
Well, turns out, many of the fireworks seen on television were digitally created because, according to officials, the smog was too bad for anyone to see the real ones anyway.
If that wasn’t bad enough, now comes the news that even the only truly human part of the ceremony was fabricated.
That tiny, red-dressed, 9-year-old girl named Lin Miaoke who so touchingly sang "Ode to the Motherland"?
It was an ode to a fakery.
The voice actually belonged to 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, but poor Peiyi was not deemed cute enough for a world audience, so Lin lip-synched to Peiyi’s recorded voice.
The saddest thing being, Chinese officials actually publicly bragged about making the switch.
"After several tests, we decided to put Lin Miaoke on the live picture while using Yang Peiyi’s voice," said musical director Chen Qigang in an interview with Beijing Radio. "The reason for this is that we must put our country’s interests first. The girl appearing on the picture must be flawless in terms of her facial expressions and the great feeling she can give to the people."
So a child with an incredible voice gets shoved aside because she is not "flawless" enough.
So the biggest human hit of the opening ceremony is not a human at all, but a recording.
Remember all this in a couple of weeks when IOC officials will surely commend China for staging what might be the most efficient Olympics in history.
Remember this great machine comes at an ever greater human price.
-- Bill Plaschke
Photo: A photo released by the New China news agency shows Lin Miaoke, the 9-year-old Chinese girl who lip-synched "Ode to the Motherland" during the Beijing Games opening ceremony on Aug. 8. Credit: Xinhua / Zhou Liang / Associated Press