Somewhere in Las Vegas, all 83 productions of Cirque du Soleil are neon green with envy. The Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was astonishing, even if you didn’t see it live. It was a spectacular feat of choreography, technology, and manpower. Helmed by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, it was probably his most dazzling work since House of Flying Daggers and Hero. However, some might argue that it was also his most issue-oriented work since Raise the Red Lantern. The entire production was an expression of Chinese history, though it managed to tread lightly around some very hot topics. Did the American audience notice? At The Huffington Post, Katherine Goldstein writes that NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony glossed over the propaganda and even refrained from getting into the Mao issue:
Throughout the segment on ancient Chinese history, Ramo had no trouble explaining the Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist references. He elaborated that China wanted the performance to be didactic in teaching the world about the rich cultural traditions and “replacing old images of China with new ones.” Of course they do. That is what propaganda is. Your job, Mr. Ramo, is to provide accurate, informative commentary to explain and counteract this. However, to let China’s abridged version of history slide under the radar without any comment is troubling because it means one of the following things.
— Ramo is an idiot.
— He, Matt Lauer, and Bob Costas didn’t want to say anything remotely negative about the opening ceremonies.
Can we just get to track & field, please?