Tilman Baumgärtel on Thu, 14 Aug 2008 23:26:56 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> double pipe

    Since there have been a lot posts on Second Life, revolving around
    time-honored questions of virtuality and reality, physical
    interaction with virtual world and other staples of the late 1990s,
    I thought it would be interesting to read something about more
    recent developments in how the virtual augments the real (or the
    other way around). Of course, I am talking about the Olympics.

    Here is an interesting commentary from a Chinese magazine about the
    recent brouhaha surrounding the opening of the Olympics. I
    personally think that this was "Master" Zhang Yimou´s best live
    action movie so far...



>     Here is what Yang Binbin (杨彬彬), senior reporter of China’s
>     leading finance and business magazine Caijing
>     <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caijing> write the following
>     commentary
>     <http://mxxom.spaces.live.com/blog/cns%21C47E2EBC41761FD5%21287.entry>,
>     translated by CDT, had to say:

    In Chinese stand-up comedy Xiangsheng,
    <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiangsheng> a tongue-twister
    showcasing skit normally performed by two people, there’s a type
    called double-pipe, which is a kind of lip-syncing comedy with one
    person standing up front moving his mouth and another person hiding
    behind but actually providing the voice. Or imagine a performance of
    the two guys in “Step Brothers” delivering a hilarious performance
    instead of that job interview.

    Chinese traditional culture has a long history. On August 8,
    talented directors of the opening ceremony did successfully put up a
    wonderful “double-pipe” show in front of 4 billion global spectators.

    In the early morning of August 9, after the Olympics Opening
    Ceremony ended, the entire directing team met the press. The General
    Director Zhang Yimou said, the most moving scene for him during the
    entire Opening Ceremony was when the nine-year-old Lin Miaoke sang
    the Ode to the Motherland.” “When this little girl sang the ‘Ode to
    the Motherland,’ I was moved every time we did a rehearsal on this,
    from the bottom of my heart,” said Zhang.

    Few knew and the directors never revealed that the girl who moved
    the world was but a puppet. The real voice came from a 7-year-old,
    Yang Peiyi, a first-grader at Beijing University’s affiliated
    elementary school.

    In a later aired recording with Beijing People’s Radio Station, the
    opening ceremony’s music director Chen Qigang disclosed a “never to
    tell” secret: the singer was a fake. Chen explained, Yang was not
    picked to show up because of her looks, for the sake of national

    I never would lay the worst assumptions on Chinese artists, but this
    time I was indeed shocked by their answer. So the 9-year-old could
    show her face but not sing, does she have a broken voice? And the
    7-year-old could show off her vocal talent but not her face, and so
    much so that her appearance could damage “national interest?”

    Master Chen studied in France for years and he must have forgotten a
    Western ancient saying every child is an angel brought down by God.
    A 7-year-old’s “image” could be elevated as high as “national
    interest,” which is indeed unprecedented. But scandals that took the
    name of “national interest” have already become a part of our lives.

    What are the Olympics? There’s only one answer in the world, except
    in China, where the answer varies, but has nothing to do with
    justice, fairness and openness.

    For the Olympics, the Chinese ping-pong community has been playing
    fake games and it became an open secret;

    For the Olympics, those parents who lost their children were asked
    to accept compensation from local governments but not to pursue
    responsibilities of “shoddy school buildings;”

    On the not-so-filled stands of the Bird’s Nest, heads of states were
    seated tight but we couldn’t see the builders of the stadium —
    migrant workers;

    It’s said that to “beautify the city,” Beijing spent billions of
    yuan to paint up the facades of street-facing buildings and these
    funds could probably solve the housing situation for tens of
    thousands of low-income families;

    The Olympics have become a fable with Chinese characteristics. This
    “double-pipe” incident, without a prior explanation nor a
    description afterwards, did nothing but enforce the comic effect of
    this Olympic fable.

    We were told the Olympics are green, so in the opening ceremony, we
    used so much light and energy;

    We were told the Olympics are humanistic, so in our opening
    ceremony, we used so much cheap labor;

    We were told the Olympics is high tech, so in the opening ceremony,
    we used so many fancy techniques and the double-pipe is almost

    To our countrymen, “fake drinks,” “fake medicine,” “fake soccer
    competitions,” and “fake joint ventures” are all like the “fake
    singing,” becoming common vocabulary in our lives.

    But this time on the Olympics stage, it happened to children less
    than 10 years of age. Letting such young kids lie in front of the
    world, this nation has no hope. On August 11, CCTV aired an
    interview with parents of the two girls. The 9-year-old didn’t study
    dancing but her smiling face touched everyone. Her mother talked a
    lot about children’s dreams but the only thing she didn’t mention
    was that the singing wasn’t her daughter’s voice.

    The 7-year-old was shedding her baby teeth but in front of the
    camera she’s still an angel. Asked whether she feels regret for not
    showing her face, her answer and her father’s made me want to cry:
    not at all, there are so many behind-the-scenes heroes, we are happy
    with our voice out there.

    I believe, after many years, what will go down in history for the
    Beijing Games will not be the drumming, the movable type blocks
    movement or the flying man chasing the flame tower, but this unique

Dr. Tilman Baumgärtel 
Film Institute, College of Mass Communication, 
University of the Philippines

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