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August 12 2008

Chinese Girl Lip-syncs For Another During Opening Ceremonies

Everyone seems to be in a tizzy over the fact that the voice we heard come out of 7-year-old Lin Miaoke during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies was actually that of Yang Peiyi, another 7-year-old.

Um… hello?  It’s China.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the video of the offending song, “Ode to the Motherland”.

According to a radio interview with the musical director of the ceremonies, Chen Qigang, on state radio in China, it was decided that Peiyi had the voice, but wasn’t cute enough. On the other hand, Miaoke had the face they wanted, but not the voice, so upper level officials made the call to have the cuter girl lip-sync the song.

“The reason was for the national interest,” said Qigang.  He went on to add, “the child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression. … Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects.”  Was it his decision, though?  No.  “We had to do it. We’d been through several inspections. They’re all very strict. When we rehearsed at the spot, there were several spectators from various divisions, especially leaders from the Politburo, who gave the opinion it must change.”

I think I’m more surprised at the reaction than the actual act.  No, that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do, but, come on, it’s a Communist nation, of course they want to portray a vision of perfection.  This is also not that uncommon in music. Anyone remember C + C Music Factory? Zelma Davis appeared in their videos lip-syncing the vocals of Martha Wash as Ms. Wash was heavier than the image the group wanted in their videos. This was only revealed after the whole Milli Vanilli debacle where it was revealed that Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus hadn’t sung one word of “their” hit album.

Again, none of this makes it “right”, but it isn’t especially shocking either.  I’m more shocked/surprised it even got revealed because this reaction isn’t to be unexpected.  China has the eyes of the entire world on it right now, and everyone is looking for things to pick on.  The fact the music director got away with revealing it on state-run radio is far more interesting to me than the story itself.  How did this happen?  Was it intentional?  Was someone just not paying attention?  Will there be ramifications against Qigang?  The interviewer?  All of that is the real story here, and I am dismayed by the lack of follow-up by professional journalists to go to that part of the story.  No no, it’s far easier to just point a finger and go, “A-ha!  See?!? The Chinese are deceiving us!”

Heaven forbid journalists actually ever WORK for a story.

In the end, it’s been revealed, the true singer has gotten her credit, and I think that is a good thing far more than I think it is a bad thing.  Sure, it would have been nice to hace seen the true singer out there, but it’s over and done with, just stop playing shocked by it!



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  • Laura

    Sean,
    Loved the article everything you said is the truth.

  • Anonymous

    The lip singer was a 9 yr old.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe China said she was 9, but really she is 7..ya see gotcha thinking on that one didnt I? Haha.

  • I’m not shocked, or even pretending to be shocked, by this whole thing.

    I do think that in a ceremony that was supposed to symbolize a nation’s ethos and culture, there was a lot of unintentional but accurate symbolism going on.