A commenter in the thread below points to an article in the Syndey Morning Herald about how the Sydney Symphony mimed its way through the Opening Ceremony performance for the 2000 Games in their home city. And it’s more than just synching/miming:
Even worse, it admits the backing tape was recorded, in part, by its southern rival, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
So the parallel with the China crooked teeth controversy intensifies. Not just faking it, but taking credit for what was the work of another.
I haven’t said much about this because of mixed feelings. I don’t like the practice of lip-synching because it’s deceptive – no matter how you parse it, you are fooling the viewers. So I understand the critics of Pavarotti and countless caught-lip-synching pop stars who felt they didn’t get what they paid for. At least what they heard was the artist him/herself, even if it was canned and piped in – if that’s any consolation.
It goes to a whole different level when you’re lip-synching and pretending to be the performer when you’re actually not. It’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t ruin the Opening Ceremonies of Sydney or Beijing. It just doesn’t look good, even when they have excellent excuses. It looks even worse when it appears the main factor influencing the decision is the real singer’s teeth. In Sydney, the excuse was lack of time to make a backup tape (or something like that). Whatever. It still looks deceptive, and certainly blows a big hole in the argument that “only China” would go to such lengths to cover up reality in the name of putting on a good show.
Let’s focus more on things that really matter instead of trying to make China look bad for what was a spectacular Opening Ceremony and a very well-hosted Games. There are plenty of other things to criticize China for.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.