Now Even Nine Year Old Girls Can Enjoy The Pressure To Look “Perfect”
Posted by Clem Bastow on August 13, 2008
First, an admission: I missed the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. Largely because I was nowhere near a functioning television, but also because I had my doubts (echoed by Mark Mordue’s excellent piece in The Age) about China’s festival of nationalism disguised as a gee whiz opening spectacular. However, I read enough coverage to know that they had their own “Nikki Webster”, a little girl performing as a focal point of hope and innocence.
What a pity, then, that it has emerged the girl who appeared in the ceremony was a miming ring-in, hired because the nine-year-old girl who actually sang the Hymn To The Motherland was deemed not to be “pretty” enough for the worldwide telecast:
The ceremony’s music director, Chen Qigang, revealed that Lin had not been singing but miming to a recording by another girl, Yang Peiyi, who was dumped from the starring role because she wasn’t as pretty and had uneven teeth.
Thus while Yang cut the best recording of the song, at the Central People’s Radio Station, she could not be presented to the world because, Chen said, the national interest was at stake: “The child on camera had to be flawless in looks, in her feelings and in her expression.”
Lin had earlier performed in a TV advertisement when she was only six, and in Olympic promotions. The state-owned China Daily yesterday described her as a “songbird”, saying: “She is already well on her way to becoming a star, thanks to her heart-warming performance”.
Chen said that the organisers had a responsibility to explain why they had made the switch: “It was the image of our national music, our national culture. And especially since it accompanied the arrival of the national flag in the arena, this was an extremely serious matter.”
In the end, he said, the change resulted in “a perfect voice and perfect image, merged together”.
He thought this was fair to both girls. He said: “When Lin Miaoke was singing (on Friday), she may not have realised that was not her own voice” echoing around the stadium.
Wow, so they gave one girl a complex about her appearance (which, as you can see from this ‘compare and contrast’ picture – Yang is at right – is hardly the snaggle-toothed monster the organisers would have you believe she was), and deluded the other one into thinking she sang live in front of an audience of billions? Excellent work, organising committee.
What’s especially unpleasant about all this is the idea of presenting a “perfect” face to the world – such pressures are hard enough to stomach when they are being applied to 20- and 30-something celebrity women, but pre-teen girls? I hope Chen has had the IOC put aside some cash for Yang’s eventual counselling.