Friday, August 15, 2008

Uneasy thoughts

So, did you catch any of the opening ceremonies at the Olympics? Yes, it was grand, and impressive, and amazing. And holy cow, did it give me the creeps.

Has anyone else read the children’s novel A Wrinkle in Time? And if so, do you remember the part about the planet where all the kids bounced the ball in perfect unison, except for the one boy who couldn’t keep the rhythm and was hidden inside his house? Does that seem a tad familiar? Honestly, how many people running around in light-up green suits are really necessary to impress? How many Tai Chi masters do we need to see performing in unison? How many beautiful, swaying, charming women in identical skirts? How many cute children singing together? Can you imagine the rehearsals for such a show? The mere thought of that choreography's preparations makes my head spin.

And speaking of cute children, the story about the pretty little girl who lip-synced a song in place of a less beautiful child is heating up the online world (,2933,402093,00.html), as it should. I’m irritated that such a thing would happen, outraged for the sake of the girls involved in the cover-up. (I’m also a tad uneasy because I’m not certain the same thing wouldn’t happen if the games were hosted here…)

Some weird “sports” are surfacing, too: we tuned in a couple of nights ago hoping to see some diving (Marcus is fascinated by diving in general, even at the local public pool), and boy did we get diving—synchronized diving. Huh?! What the—? Is this real? Apparently, yes. Two divers perform the same dive in perfect unison. I wouldn’t have believed it if someone told me. As if the amazing and difficult dives are no longer impressive enough, now they must be completed simultaneously with another diver. It was absolutely absurd. And need I say that the Chinese divers were impeccable? I joked to Todd that they had to be the best or they’d be quietly murdered in the showers and replaced with more master divers—and a part of me wondered, honestly, what some of those athletes have been put through to achieve these physical milestones. I know they're often culled from small childhood to be intensively trained. Makes you wonder.

When a leadership is so bent on perfection, just what is it capable of doing to achieve it? They can whitewash Tiananmen Square as many times as they like, they can cover up the protests going on outside the stadium, they can try to bury the inhumanities that occur to their own citizens, but this is a country with some serious competitive and control issues—and enough physical bodies to do some serious damage, to their own people (since everyone is replaceable) and to others beyond their borders (because there are so darned many of them inside those borders).

The good thing about all this nonsense is that it takes the focus off of stories about how the makeup of our country is changing dramatically, and much faster than expected (,2933,403441,00.html,2933,403441,00.html). That kind of worries me, not because the face of America is changing (as the majority, I’ve been kind of spoiled, I suspect), but because most stories attribute the changing face to immigration and births among immigrants…and most of those immigrants are willing to work for a lot less money than the typical American. That’s not good news for our job market.

Unless, of course, you’re really pretty; then maybe you can get paid to look like you’re working—while some less attractive mug shoulders the actual responsibility and breaks a sweat.


Anonymous said...

Here, here. I'm with you on this one. It's a scary country on many levels. To think of whisking tiny tots away from their nursery schools (and parents) and putting them through some maniacal athletic machine...and the kids and parents go along with it because it affords them a better life than they could have otherwise. I'm not saying our elite athletes and their families don't sacrifice for their sport, but it seems like there's more choice involved. And where are all the media reports and backlash about Chinese policies? (At most you get Bob Costa dismissing it by saying, "Well, we're different on a fundamental level..." and grilling President Bush about what HE'S doing to solve the world's problems.) Apparently the U.S. is the only heinous bully of the world worthy of constant media scorn.

Anonymous said...

I have been saying the same thing - the opening ceremonies were impressive - and TERRIFYING. Picture all those smiling young men with AK-47's instead of drumsticks. China has big ambitions, make no mistake about it. This is their big debut, but afterwards, the smiles will come off and the truncheons will come out. And the insanity of the games goes on - the ridiculous (and illegal) youth of the female gymnasts, the media censorship, the story of the famous Chinese dancer who was to perform in the opening ceremonies but fell off the stage and is now going to be paralyzed for life. Oh, didn't hear that one? Yeah, apparently no one else did either until just today - a week after the opening. It wasn't deemed "newsworthy" in China apparently. I have tried all my life to NOT be prejudice, but the Chinese frighten me. I fear they'll control the world before I die, and if their past history is any indicator, they'll control it with strict brutality. Lady Liberty will be strangled by the Chinese Dragon.