Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cheer squads in Beijing

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I must admit, it would not displease me in the least if the Beijing Olympics proved to be, on the whole, an abject failure. It would serve both the rapacious totalitarian cabal that runs China and the corrupt, tyranny-friendly cabal that runs the IOC right. Both China and the IOC could do with failure on a massive scale.

Alas, abject failure is a bit too much to hope for, but it seems that all is not well at the Games these days. As the WaPo is reporting:

Two weeks after announcing they had sold every one of the record 6.8 million tickets offered for the Games, Olympics officials expressed dismay at the large numbers of empty seats at nearly every event and the lack of pedestrian traffic throughout the park, the 2,800-acre centerpiece of the competition.

So what is China doing about it?

To remedy the problem, officials are busing in teams of state-trained "cheer squads" identifiable by their bright yellow T-shirts to help fill the empty seats and improve the atmosphere. They are also encouraging residents to apply for access to the heavily secured park.

That's right... cheer squads. In other words, fake fans, shadows on the wall, a regime-sponsored (and regime-protective) lie. It's what the Chinese, like other good totalitarians, do so well.

The difference here is that the lie is obvious. It's like the totalitarians have succumbed to postmodernism and are being ironic about it. "Here's the lie. It's wearing a bright yellow T-shirt. We're serious about it -- just like we're serious about oppressing the Tibetans and raping Africa and squashing any and all internal dissent to our market-happy rule -- but the world is watching, whether we like it or not, and we're keeping this smile plastered on our faces until the flame burns down."

But -- yeah, yeah -- image-manufacturing is everywhere, including in our liberal democracies, and the Olympics are (allegedly) sold out, and China will find a way to profit from the Games, likely at the expense of the Chinese people, so... whatever.

Still, even as I'm paying far less attention to these Games than to Games past -- I'm hardly watching any TV on vacation -- I'm cheering on the poor attendance with glee.

It's the least I can do.

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