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middle earth has no monopoly on miming
August 26, 2008 10:47 PM   Subscribe

Seems like China isn't the only country faking performances during Olympic ceremonies.
posted by randomstriker (57 comments total)

 
This is an extremely important, extremely serious matter.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:00 PM on August 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


.
posted by ericost at 11:04 PM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, Milli Vanilli will be doing a reunion tour in London around 2012 or so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:05 PM on August 26, 2008


1936 Olympics not actually triumph of will; Riefenstahl implicated.
posted by klangklangston at 11:14 PM on August 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, duh. It was skullhammeringly obvious, even in this world o' unremarked-upon fakery we've built for ourselves, that Cute Little Aussie Girl Singer at the Sydney Olympics was lipsynching. That was the first goddamn thing I thought of (maybe because I was living in Sydney at the time) when the Cute Little Chinese Girl Singer came onscreen a couple of weeks ago.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:27 PM on August 26, 2008


I care at least as much about the fakery in Sydney as that in Beijing.

Well, exactly as much.
posted by pompomtom at 11:31 PM on August 26, 2008


Now this is what is bringing the Olympics into disrepute.
posted by Elmore at 11:34 PM on August 26, 2008


Next we'll be hearing that women in the athletes' village were also faking their performances.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:17 AM on August 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


I can understand the voice miming, especially of very young children, even though I think it is sad, but I am very surprised that an entire professional orchestra was willing to mime a performance, even saying: "The miming side of it is perfectly normal".
posted by davar at 12:19 AM on August 27, 2008


To me this is more akin to the pre-recorded fireworks in Beijing than to the miming of the little girl. Now, if they actually a group of actors pretending to be musicians because the real orchestra look too homely... well... then maybe.
posted by adamt at 12:33 AM on August 27, 2008


Oh man, I was really, really hoping the article was going to say Niki Webster was faking it...
posted by Jimbob at 12:35 AM on August 27, 2008


Oh man, I was really, really hoping the article was going to say Niki Webster was faking it...

Wait, what, shit, you mean she wasn't? That's what I get for not reading the damn link.

Disregard my earlier screed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:51 AM on August 27, 2008


I've been in a similar situation actually, when I was in high school our choir sang the national anthem at a football grand final, but the whole performance had been recorded a few days earlier in our school auditorium. We actually did sing on the day, but the microphones weren't turned on.

The justification was that the acoustics of a windswept field aren't so great, so if you want a good sound you do your recording under better circumstances.

Singing is hard enough as it is, let alone (I presume) if you're being dangled 10m above the ground on the end of a wire.

So they recorded a little girl sweetly singing, and probably chose the best take out of numerous attempts, so the world would hear a beautifully sung song. Then they hung out the girl on a wire and swung her all over the place while she attempted to maintain some semblance of composure.

Actually I'd read somewhere that the chinese actually had a different girl sing the song to the one who they hung out on the wire. The wire girl was chosen for her good looks, the actual singer was chosen for her voice...
posted by Mokusatsu at 1:37 AM on August 27, 2008


Man, how you gonna choose a nine-year-old girl by her good looks.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:31 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


casting couch.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:40 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure they chose her on looks, per se. I'm betting it was more of a "stage presence" kinda thing. The actual singer seemed a bit reserved (from what little I read and saw), while the "singer" was energetic and perky.

Perky sells. Even in Asia.
posted by RavinDave at 2:43 AM on August 27, 2008


I'm fucking out of here.
posted by strawberryviagra at 2:48 AM on August 27, 2008


I heard there may not have been the correct number of angels dancing on top of the pin either.
posted by zog at 2:54 AM on August 27, 2008


The difference is that at the time the press wasn't desperately searching for stories to dredge up to take away Australia's glory of a successful Olympics. I personally file it under "western propaganda", together with many of the anti-Russian reports about South Ossetia, which is a sad 'news' category that I thought was dying.
posted by HaloMan at 2:57 AM on August 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


The wire girl was chosen for her good looks, the actual singer was chosen for her voice...

And you would think that with more than a billion people, they'd have at least one girl that is cute and can sing.

Although I think a Chinese friend of mine nailed it when he said that they probably chose the cute girl because she's the granddaughter or niece of someone high up.
posted by sour cream at 3:17 AM on August 27, 2008


When the news is faked, it's news. When entertainment is faked, it's entertainment.

The Olympics are entertainment.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled brouhaha, already in progress.
posted by pracowity at 3:44 AM on August 27, 2008


Coincidentally, Milli Vanilli will be doing a reunion tour in London around 2012 or so.

Won't that threaten Rob Zombie's trademark?

Wow I'm obscure in the morning.
posted by rokusan at 4:20 AM on August 27, 2008


I heard that the whole event is CGI.
posted by HuronBob at 4:21 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


China Gets Inventive?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:57 AM on August 27, 2008


So we should take the Sydney Olympics back and demand a redo.
posted by netbros at 5:47 AM on August 27, 2008


Coincidentally, Milli Vanilli will be doing a reunion tour in London around 2012 or so.

FTW! That made me laugh out loud. Good one blaze.
posted by a3matrix at 5:48 AM on August 27, 2008


Both countries defended the sacrifice of authenticity. . .

Trevor Green (AUS): “There are millions of people watching, and if something goes wrong, you’d be snookered”

Chen Qigang (PRC): “This is in the national interest. It is the image of our national music, national culture, especially during the entrance of our national flag. This is an extremely important, extremely serious matter"


". . . and if something goes wrong, you’d be snookered”, he added.
posted by Herodios at 5:48 AM on August 27, 2008


It's official. Television is running our lives. The tail is wagging the dog.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:54 AM on August 27, 2008


I am very surprised that an entire professional orchestra was willing to mime a performance, even saying: "The miming side of it is perfectly normal".

You don't think the orchestra is actually playing when you go to the symphony, do you? It's all miming. Tickets cost too much to risk public outrage; if people hear mistakes they'll want their money back. They've been miming to prerecorded pieces for years. And you know those reviews that talk about how amazing it is that some ultramodern piece has been played so perfectly? The authors are laughing their asses off when they turn in those reviews, especially since they don't even bother going to the concert—they just listen to the recording, which gets sent to them well in advance.

Wake up!
posted by languagehat at 6:00 AM on August 27, 2008


Why do you hate Australia?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:05 AM on August 27, 2008


Why is everyone so outraged? This is not breaking news. It's common practice at professional sporting events everywhere (including the US) to pre-record the national anthem and have the performers lip-sync and/or mime playing their instrument at the actual event. Why would you expect something different at the Olympics? The argument that the acoustics in such a large space makes it extremely difficult is an accurate one. Stadiums aren't build for their acoustics- they're built for showcasing sporting events.
posted by rtboo at 6:26 AM on August 27, 2008


They chose the insipid "Advance Australia Fair" over "Waltzing Matilda." That's reason enough.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:26 AM on August 27, 2008


Did you mean Middle Earth or Middle Kingdom, randomstriker? I don't remember Tolkien writing about a race of mimes.
posted by ardgedee at 6:39 AM on August 27, 2008


I think I would only watch the Olympics again if the United States, China, and Russia were not allowed to compete. Seriously, its like 3 versions of the Yankees vs. Everyone Else and guess who wins 75% of the medals every fucking time. Big fucking deal.

I'd also make them ditch all the sports that aren't, ya know, sports.
posted by mr_book at 6:40 AM on August 27, 2008


I totally faked watching the Olympics. I paid a stand-in to watch it for me.
posted by kcds at 6:45 AM on August 27, 2008


Did you mean Middle Earth or Middle Kingdom, randomstriker? I don't remember Tolkien writing about a race of mimes.

No, no, no. After Strider and the Hobbits escape Bree, they are set upon in the woods by Roving Mongol Hordes. Frodo is poisoned, and only with the help of Glorfindel, servant of the Yellow Emperor, do they manage to escape. Those elves in Rivendell sure know how to align Chi flow for maximum healing effect, to be sure.

But Frodo deserves it, what with trying to fight Mongol Nazgul and getting injured in the Avatar State. I mean, what a fucktard.

sorry its early and i ran out of coffee bye now
posted by mr_book at 6:45 AM on August 27, 2008


It's easy to forget, but everything you see on television is fake in one way or another.
posted by iconjack at 6:50 AM on August 27, 2008


As a performing musician who improves extensively and works with synthesizers doing live improvisation, this is just so wrong in so man ways ... weapons-grade pandemonium, you got it so right.

It's so wrong I shouldn't even have to be saying this
posted by aldus_manutius at 6:57 AM on August 27, 2008


Well, the Jimmy Page/Leona Lewis performance was obviously pre-recorded. It was pretty obvious the Page was just strumming along.

But in all fairness, sports events have been doing this for a long time. There is far too many things that can go wrong in terms of wiring and weather conditions to leave it to chance. Better to record before the event and play that recording, more than half your audience won't know the difference and the rest will bathe in smug superiority that they noticed. Everyone will be happy.
posted by Ber at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2008


Luciano, how could you?
posted by XMLicious at 8:17 AM on August 27, 2008


The argument that can't be beaten about this topic.

Do some method acting and say this line: "I am a 9 year old girl. My government thinks I am ugly."
posted by sleslie at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


...the Sydney Symphony just going through the motions of a live performance....some of the recordings were recorded by another group altogether, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra...

So, I guess the Sydney Symphony is prettier than the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra? Was the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra not available?
posted by ericb at 8:53 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's common practice at professional sporting events everywhere (including the US) to pre-record the national anthem and have the performers lip-sync and/or mime playing their instrument at the actual event.

I'm fully aware that anecdotes do not equal data, but I've sung at professional sporting events in Baltimore Arena, and my father has sung at professional sporting events in Camden Yards. Neither of us has ever lip-synced.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:24 AM on August 27, 2008


Here's the thing. You're at a sporting event not only to see human beings in their athletic prime compete, but also for the possibility of risk - the crash, the untied shoelace causing a trip, the ligament giving out causing a painful fall. The crowd would be outraged if they were told "Well, it was obvious that the American was going to win, so we agreed that the athletes should just mime their performances so that they crossed the finish line in the right order."

There's also the idea of purity of performance - while technological assistance certainly plays a part in modern sport (swimsuits, carbon fibre frames), there is a line drawn between that and what is broadly considered cheating - steroids, human growth hormone, blood doping. So why are the performers allowed, encouraged, even ordered to cheat, and the athletes punished for doing so?

I've told my students in the past: "If you want true, live music, there's an implicit agreement between the musician and the audience. If you want the inspired improvisation, the true note, you have to put up with a degree of risk: the broken string, the concert canceled due to strep throat. The audience also has to dial back its expectations: no, your favorite pop singer can't do the equivalent of aerobics for two hours and sing in tune at the same time. If you want the possibility of the truly transcendent performance, you also have to be prepared to witness failure and disappointment."
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:33 AM on August 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Sidetracking onto the Advance Australia Fair vs. Waltzing Matilda...

I also have a preference for the latter - but you do have to concede it is about a thief who commits suicide rather than let himself be arrested.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:34 AM on August 27, 2008


Bora Horza Gobuchul:

I agree completely. However, I think we're a minority here. The last time it came up, several people here authoritatively told me that the only thing that's important is what music is generated, and whether someone is playing it live or from a recording is unimportant.

[somewhat off-topic ramble about live music follows.]

To me there's something about having someone make sound, for you, right there that's amazing. The counter-argument was that that mainly applies if you, the listener, are an instrumentalist or singer and most people really don't care.

It's probably true, today, but I think it's mainly because you don't see so many electrifying live performances these days. How can you get hooked if you never get to taste the drug?

I'm lucky inasmuch as I get to see a lot of live underground music. 90% of it is sort of regular, 5% is great, and 5% is stellar - the payoff. I have to confess that I have a lot more tolerance for music being played by actual musicians who aren't really making a living out of it then hearing the same stuff on tape by professionals - partly because you never know when someone will surprise you, partly because you rarely hear the same thing twice, and partly just because I applaud people for "getting out and doing it".

The last couple of months have been particularly good for no particular reason. I've seen performances ranging from top-notch to extraordinary from Matmos, Melted Men, Lycaon Pictus and their friends, Talibam!, the Boredoms, the Butthole Surfers (the last two not being underground really...) I'm also lucky inasmuch as there are two genuinely underground spaces within a few minutes' walk of here which I can just drop in to.

I'd believe however that most Americans rarely or never get to see decent live music. I have been told that no matter how "challengingly" weird your music is, you'll always get a good reception if you tour small US towns, simply because people are extremely grateful that you came to play for them. I love drum machines, but somebody reciting simple rhymes after pressing play on a drum machine isn't anything like the experience you get from a rock band playing in full anger.

(NYC mefi-ers who like live music are always welcome, drop me a line...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2008


Did you mean Middle Earth or Middle Kingdom, randomstriker?

oops.
posted by randomstriker at 11:00 AM on August 27, 2008


The difference is that at the time the press wasn't desperately searching for stories to dredge up to take away Australia's glory of a successful Olympics. I personally file it under "western propaganda", together with many of the anti-Russian reports about South Ossetia, which is a sad 'news' category that I thought was dying.

That's exactly the subtext that I see. As China becomes an economic, political and military competitor, it seems that we can't get enough of the China-bashing stories...even if the world's greatest sporting event becomes a casualty.
posted by randomstriker at 11:03 AM on August 27, 2008


I once saw a version of John Cage's 4'33" that I later found out had been mimed. I was really upset about it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:11 PM on August 27, 2008


What's the problem? We only did it for the lulz.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:43 PM on August 27, 2008


Luciano, how could you?

Old news indeed.
posted by anazgnos at 3:33 PM on August 27, 2008


As China becomes an economic, political and military competitor, it seems that we can't get enough of the China-bashing stories...even if the world's greatest sporting event becomes a casualty.

My g/f was observing the other day that whenever our press mentions China, now, it's always "Communist China", even if this has nothing to do with the story.

As to the subject of this post, I find it sad that just because there's a realization that accidents happen, and venues can be less than ideal, this means no one will be willing to take the chance, and audiences should just accept it as inevitable. I mean, our high school band played on that rink a la ice capades, damnit, and no inevitable run of foul-ups was gonna stop us!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:46 PM on August 27, 2008


Also, this headline now has me picturing Merry and Pippin playing charades with Treebeard. No wonder they had trouble enlisting the Ents' aid.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:48 PM on August 27, 2008


Also: I'd also make them ditch all the sports that aren't, ya know, sports.

Really? I'd make them ditch all the sports that are sports. I mean, this is supposed to be the Olympics.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:03 PM on August 27, 2008


What Durn said. They should be trying to out-silly synchronised swimming each time.

I thought softball was a pretty good start.
posted by pompomtom at 10:07 PM on August 27, 2008


I once saw a version of John Cage's 4'33" that I later found out had been mimed. I was really upset about it.

I saw that too. The mime was totally unconvincing. I got no sense of the invisible piano at all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:53 AM on August 28, 2008


But it's right there!
posted by pompomtom at 6:14 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


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