I saw a post on a Chinese immigrant forum yesterday.
At work, someone expressed regret at missing the Olympics opening ceremony's TV coverage. Two American colleagues taunted that he only missed fake firework, adding they "can't believe the Chinese government used fake firework!" Hearing this, the writer of the post, a Chinese immigrant, argued that it wasn't a big deal, the show was beautiful anyway. A wrangle began and the American colleagues went ahead to accuse Chinese killing dogs, that there were protests outside the Bird's Nest, etc. The wrangle then, not surprisingly, progressed to arguing about Tibet and human rights. At one point the Americans said, "Every Chinese says the same thing. That means it's not your own opinion," as if they themselves had their own opinion and had not been echoing the mainstream media.
When I read the CNN report about the prerecorded images of the footprint-shaped fireworks, I didn't feel it was a big deal either. After all, fireworks were indeed lunched at the time, and a counterfeit image is different from a counterfeit event. I agree with some critics that Zhang Yimou needn't be such a perfectionist – so what if some actual fireworks couldn't be captured perfectly on the screen? That shouldn't be a big deal either. But considering his responsibility with such a big event, his over-caution is forgivable. The show is a work of visual art after all; the artist has license to manipulate his objects. Even if you regard the "fake" image as a flaw, to be fair the entire performance is still 瑕不掩瑜 – "one blemish doesn't mar the jade."
But the artist should exercise a lot more caution when extending his creative license to human beings. To "fake" the singing girl is a quite different matter because now it involves a person. And human beings, especially their feelings, can easily get hurt. We Chinese have a saying, 人言可畏 – "people's words are a fearsome thing." First, "the girl in the red dress" at the opening ceremony was hyped by the media and she developed a huge fan base as unsuspecting Chinese netizens cheered everywhere for her. In fact, many of the fans were touched by "her" voice. Then they found out the voice wasn't hers, and felt – rightfully – cheated. With their anger came all kinds of words, fearsome words. How would this sudden change impact 9-year-old Lin Miaoke? Would she feel a thousand-foot fall from honorable performer to cheater? All she did was to follow the arrangements of those respectable adults, in the name of serving the country's honor. Now people, with their fearsome words, are making her feel as if she cheated them.
It seems to me that this is another case of bureaucratic stupidity. The decision to show one girl's face with the other's voice was apparently made by "leaders from the Politburo." But, as you can see from the photo, the actual singer, Yang Peiyi, is a lovely little girl. I would think a girl as young as 7 years old with such a beautiful voice would be even more attractive to the audience. Who cares about her imperfect teeth? What 7-year-old is not changing teeth?
I hope this backfire will teach the stupid politicians something. Sometimes appearance, whether a child's or a country's, is not the most important thing.