Opening Ceremony Lip Sync Controversy

The adorable, pig-tailed girl who sang "Ode to the Motherland" during Friday's Opening Ceremony for the Olympics was lip syncing. The real singer's face was apparently deemed "not suitable" by officials organizing the games.

In an interview with Beijing Radio, Chen Qigang, musical director for the ceremony, said a member of China's Politburo concluded that Lin Miaoke's voice "must change" during a rehearsal. Unfortunately, the girl with the most beautiful voice, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, was not deemed cute enough.

"We combined the perfect voice and the perfect performance," Chen said.

In blog postings, some Chinese citizens have expressed anger about the last-minute switch, saying the stunt gives children the wrong impression that deception is okay and harms China's efforts to present itself as a reformed and modern society during the Olympics.

--Ariana Eunjung Cha

August 12, 2008; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Postmark Beijing
Previous: Chinese 'Cheer Squads' Fill Empty Seats | Next: Actor Jonathan Kos-Read On Foreigners in Chinese Soap Operas


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From a country that broke the toes of their little girls and bound them in rags to keep them from growing, I don't know why anyone would be surprised by this. Of course they wanted to have the prettiest little girl, who probably also has small feet, and the best voice. What is sad is her father's quote in the NY Times saying, "she'll understand when she's older." Understand what? The wonderful message that being pretty trumps any other kind of talent and skill you might have. That is a lesson most young girls learn and not just in China, unfortunately. I think that an American producer may have tried the same stunt given the circumstances, however, which is sadder still.

Posted by: anon | August 12, 2008 9:38 AM

One day the Chinese people will get tired of being pushed around to make their government look good. Thank goodness the Chinese people are having trouble with this. It shows they have a good future once they move beyond authoritarianism. Most Chinese I meet love their country, but not their government. They admire America's freedoms. One day they will demand them and China will be an awesome place.

Posted by: Sully | August 12, 2008 9:45 AM

I hate to break it to you, but every singer at the Super Bowl halftime show is lip syncing as well! This is standard practice for almost all musical performances at large events and awards shows.

Posted by: rounder | August 12, 2008 11:04 AM

Lip synching in China is extremely common practice. After living there for a long time, I have come to expect it on television shows and even at concerts. Unlike in the US, however, the audience knows and expects it so it is not a letdown.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 11:10 AM

I don't think it's the lip syncing that is the concern. It's the fact that it's not her voice. At the Superbowl, Prince (or whoever) is lip syncing his own songs. Here, they are using another girl's voice who wasn't allowed to perform b/c she wasn't pretty enough. If they had recorded the girl earlier and then had her lip sync to make sure her voice didn't crack, I don't think anyone would care.

Posted by: anon | August 12, 2008 11:48 AM

You know, Secretary Hu Jintao is kind of a chubby faced aging dude. I figure maybe they could get Tom Cruise to "cover" for him. Or how about Barack Obama, he's got real charm and a definite communist leaning.

Posted by: Canadiandy | August 12, 2008 3:48 PM

I don't think China is cute enough to be hosting the olympics. We should overdub the olympics, labeling it as "The Tibetan Olympics". All mention of ugly China should be excised in the interests of world beauty.

Posted by: George Tenenbaum | August 12, 2008 5:42 PM

It's a sad message to send to young girls, but there's no reason to be surprised. Looks always matter in show business.

Posted by: Julie W. | August 12, 2008 6:17 PM

America has more peoblem with discrimination than China. So I don't know why all of you are bash China. China has their problems, so does America. Being Chinese, I do agree with Sully that China would be much a better place with more freedom. With 1.3 billion people, China can easily be the most powerful nation in the world. The question is will America and Americans be ok with it?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 6:31 PM

For the poster that said Chinese broke little girls feet to prevent them from growing, it happend many years ago. Chinese don't do that any more. Did you just wake up from a coma?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 6:34 PM

"Lip synching in China is extremely common practice."

Confined mostly to operas, definitely not more common than other countries. Someone should check with Jonathan Kos-Read whose interview appears
on this site today.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 8:23 PM

It's nothing new in western countries. Lip syncing and photoshop are often used in western countries to distort truth and mask reality.

Posted by: Mickey | August 12, 2008 8:39 PM

I think people are blowing this way out of proportion just because it happened in China. Things like this happen. Deception is a part of our lives, ranging from negligible to egregious, no matter what we would like to claim. If the same dilemma were to occur in a capitalistic State or any State for that matter, the consumers and showbiz executives, instead of the politburo, would be calling for the change. Of course, I'm not saying we should condone this kind of behavior, however, just because it happened in China doesn't automatically make it worse. This kind of situation can occur anywhere, anytime, regardless of the existence of a communist government.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 10:06 PM

I love China.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 9:02 AM

American media is hypocritcal. Countless television shows have actors lip syncing over other people's voices. Why? To put their best foot forward. To create the best show. That's what China was doing. You want to talk about esteem in young girls? Which girls do we see on tv in commercials in America? Ones that are as cute as a button...not the average looking ones that you would see in a regular elementary school. Don't get me wrong; I'm not condoning this behavior either. I also wish we lived in a global society that did not emphasize looks so much, but can we please not crucify China for simply trying to present a good show? And can we as America please not emphasize the importance of a thin figure, blonde hair, big butts and breasts, straight teeth, young faces, etc. before we go around criticizing other countries and cultures. Not to mention it's ignorant to criticize other cultures when you don't even know about the cultural differences and what is acceptable in each. A little open-mindedness would be nice.

Posted by: Caroline | August 13, 2008 2:55 PM

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