The Olympics And China
There have been some thoughtful comments on our recent post about the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Here are a few follow-up...
There have been some thoughtful comments on our recent post about the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Here are a few follow-up observations:
First of all, we think it's completely fair to separate the aesthetics of the opening ceremony from the larger politics of the China Olympics. After all, Leni Riefenstahl's documentaries of the Nazi Olympics are revered for their artistry and reviled for their political aims at the same time.
That said, China has displaced thousands of poor citizens to make way for this global TV show. Indeed, China has a history of grabbing land from its most vulnerable citizens for dams or development without due process whenever it sees fit. Our problems with eminent domain in Florida just don't compare.
This doesn't make China "evil" and the West "good." America in particular is complicit in some of China's scariest authoritarian moves. As Naomi Klein points out, China is using the Olympics as an excuse to build a new, high-tech police state, financed by American hedge funds and equipped by American contractors.
Finally, we suspect the recent stories about the lip-syncing girl and the fake fireworks at the opening ceremonies have been popular because it's easy to gawk at the Commies' clumsy, brazen attempts to deceive. But they're not all that different from Bush photoshopping extra patriotism into his ads. Or Iran doctoring pictures of its missile tests. Governments of all stripes are learning to use special effects.
The upshot? It's a tangled bird's nest of issues. But there was some beauty in the opening ceremonies and there's still some dignity in the games.