A “Double-pipe” Show About Two Girls

More on the scandal over the lip-syncing performance in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. Yang Binbin (杨彬彬), senior reporter of China’s leading finance and business magazine Caijing write the following commentary online, translated by CDT:

In Chinese stand-up comedy 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 interest.

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 “seamless.”

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 double-pipe.