Not cute enough to sing

Olympics: Child singer revealed as fake.

What’s really sad about this story is that at even age 7, the pressure to look perfect is immense. Crooked teeth? Chubby face? No. We’d like to believe that even before the kids turn 10, they’re perfectly blessed with superior bone structures and a well aligned set of milk teeth. I don’t care much for the fact some of the fireworks were fake. But telling a kid that she isn’t cute enough even if she sings so well, is just cruel.

The recording to which Lin mouthed along on Friday was by the even younger Yang Peiyi. It seems that Yang’s uneven teeth, while unremarkable in a seven-year-old, were considered potentially damaging to China’s international image.

“This is in the national interest. It is the image of our national music, national culture. Especially the entrance of our national flag; this is an extremely important, extremely serious matter,” Chen Qigang, the event’s general music designer, explained to a Beijing radio station.

I understand if the music was pre-recorded. God knows live shows are hard to manage, especially with kids involved. Lip-syncing is what most professionals do anyway. But this case just makes me want to break something.

22 Comments

Filed under Culture, Rants and Rambles

22 Responses to Not cute enough to sing

  1. I knew the craziest of things happen out there, but this is shocking! :O
    Darn them.

  2. Vidya

    Disturbing. And more annoying is the use of the word ‘fake’ in the headlines. huh media.

  3. rads: I have a feeling it happens everywhere. The pressure to look a “certain part” is immense. Somehow, being 7 is no longer enough for being cute, you need to be “beautiful” as well. It’s just that when it happens on such a big scale, it is disturbing.

    mumbaigirl: :(

    Vidya: Yeah, my guess is that the word fake is more directed at China – which is what this issue is going to end up being about. They seem to think it’s some sort of dirt on China, when instead it’s more of a sad commentary on how things are, the world over.

  4. ??!

    Somebody possibly watched a few too many repeats of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.

  5. You want ‘cute’? You can’t handle ‘cute’ ;-)

  6. The official quoted claims they did this to project a certain ‘national image’ – and what a national image they have ended up with! Well done, China.

  7. chinchu

    I think its horrendous, its a sign of our times when 7 year old girls are being judged on their physical appearance . I think childhood in general is slowly being eroded away. :(

  8. Gigi

    My friend was discouraged from pursuing a career in applications engineering (lots of face time with customers) in a tech company for the same reason. No surprise the manager who wanted to push her into R&D was Chinese.

  9. This is really, really sad. I used to think that it was bad enough that good-looking singers on reality TV singing shows got more votes than better singers… This just takes it to another level!

  10. Ankur

    The plight of the seven-year old singer aside, there’s a possibility that the ‘face’ to the song, the nine-year old girl, would grow up with an inflated and vain sense of pride based on a false sense of superiority – an unpleasant offshoot of an insensitive system.

  11. Ankur – The other kid has been told that she isn’t actually a good singer and everything she gets is based on her looks. I doubt she’s come out of this incident feeling any better about herself than the girl who was told she wasn’t pretty enough.

  12. Actually, I am beginning to feel sorry for the Chinese. Everyone is gunning against them. I wonder if anyone looks at what happens on the Indian television scene. Its madness all over the world, this get famous quick illusion of the idiot box.

  13. Isnt this becoming a widespread malaise. of children losing their innocence to adults and their desires ? This story sure is an example. But what about the reality shows on TV in India ? What about the torture thats inflicted in the name of marks and coaching classes ? Whose ambition and desire are children taught to measure upto ?!?

  14. Personally, I think perfection is overrated. That said, an honest imagery is way more attractive, even perfect in its own way. It’s like the ‘our living room must look good at all costs and damn the rest’ syndrome, I guess.

    Nice blog, Neha.

  15. @ Neha:

    “Yeah, my guess is that the word fake is more directed at China – which is what this issue is going to end up being about.”

    What else could they called it? Lip-syncing? Mime?

    In another discussion, someone said this is reminiscent of Baudrillard. All cultures have versions of simulacra in their version of ‘life’. One person’s life is another’s fodder for criticism.

    Anyway how we do we know how the rest of the world is reported on in China? :-)

  16. @ Neha:

    Yes, I know that last line is ‘my neighbour beats my wife, so it must be ok’ kind of argument. But whose cultural values should be in hegemony, if anybody’s at all? And who decides?

  17. Hah! HIS wife, natch.

  18. And the decision was taken by Poliburo.

    Did you see Jon Stewart’s comment? “Think your high school years were hard? Imagine if your government got together and decided you were not cute”.

    Seriously, telling that to a 7-year old girl, it’s a testament to her that she sang at all.

  19. I think it’s appalling but I’m a bit surprised that everyone (media, etc.) is so surprised.

    Hasn’t it always been this way?

    In most of the schools I studied in (8 if you have to know!), the good actors were routinely passed over in favour of the good-looking (read pale-skinned). I remember one kid especially–he could hardly mouth his lines but was supposed to look more suited to the “royal” part.

  20. Now if that playback singing was inspired Bollywood, this one is pure Hollywood (not different from painting a Robert Downey Jr or Angelina Jolie black to play black people, although we have had precedence in India too where Dharmendra played a black slave to Hema Malini’s Razia Sultan in the eponymous box-office bomb film):

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20080815/ten-uk-olympics-fake-3334b85.html

  21. Well all said and done this does not happen in India, no Indian parents will allow such glory to be bestowed a child other than their own! Or maybe the choice was between her singing at all or her singing only behind a supposedly prettier face! They are worse than us!