The Chinese Millennium

I watched the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last night.


I probably shouldn’t have. I should have boycotted it, what with the bad human rights record the Chinese have and all, and the way they treat the Dalai Lama. I mean, it’s a repressive regime, no getting around it. Our president didn’t mind too much, though. He was there in the front row, to see and be seen. But then Bush seems comfortable with doing the bidding of others, as long as there’s profit in it for his family and friends. The Chinese own so much of the U.S. that Bush might not have had a choice in the matter anyway. What do I know?

But talk about keeping order! The new Olympic Stadium, called “the bird’s nest” over and over again by commentator Matt Lauer, was filled with 91,000 spectators, and the government thoughtfully provided 130,000 cops at the venue, probably to give directions and retrieve lost children and stuff. Oddly, no fights broke out.

I’m already sick of the Olympics, because I watch The Today Show every morning as I’m trying to start my day, and NBC — by virtue of a billion-dollar payoff to the Chinese Olympic Committee — is the exclusive purveyor of all things Olympian to the U.S. television market. They started months ago with a daily “Countdown to Beijing.” Daily.

Every morning they interviewed some jock or other, and showed an inspiring video about their struggle to be the best. Then Ann Curry or Meredith Viera would put on a fencing suit or a pair of shorts and engage in a little swordplay or maybe some beach tennis (yes, it’s just like beach volleyball, only not) out on the street in front of 30 Rock, all in fun, until somebody fell down, and then “…this is Today, on NBC,” and cut to that glorious trumpet fanfare they’ve been using on NBC since the LA games in 1984. Three months of this. I don’t care to see the games, since they no longer include team handball.

But that opening ceremony – whoa! Fifteen thousand performers. An LED video screen 400 feet long, that you can dance on! An epic pageant, displaying the history of a culture that is thousands of years old. Who even knows when they started? But I can tell you this: the Chinese invented paper and movable type. They invented the magnetic compass. They invented gunpowder, and the subsequent stuffing of it into rockets. So they were able to sail safely to far off lands, shoot the bejeesus out of the natives, find their way back, and write it all up in the Sunday papers.

And what did we learn from the scene where a thousand or so invisible Chinese carried a dance floor the size of a basketball court around on their shoulders while a solitary woman danced evocatively on top of it? That the glory of any achievement is possible only through the anonymous labors of many, many faceless laborers. And what lesson from the part where the beautiful children carry the flag around the floor of the stadium (excuse me, the bird’s nest), smiling and waving, only to have it snatched officiously by uniformed soldiers and run up the pole, where artificial breezes unfurled it only at the very top? That children may be the future, but it is The State that will protect and defend that future. Out of the way, kids!

I really only watched to see the fireworks, and I have to say they were not disappointing. At one point early on, the entire city of Beijing was used as a stage, as footprint-shaped explosions took place in the sky, 29 of them, symbolizing the 29 Olympiads of the modern era, each one a half-mile apart, pefrectly synchronized and marching to the bird’s nest. Holy shit, you’d never get the permits to do that across all the districts and municipalities of Los Angeles. And once the show started, there haven’t been so many rockets in the air since Bush took Bagdhad. I mean, it wasn’t launch-boom! launch-boom! launch-boom! It was more like the sky was on fire. It’s amazing the kind of fireworks you can buy for a billion dollars.

Anyway, the Chinese wanted to show that they’ve arrived, and they really showed that. They didn’t want any dissent, and by damn, there wasn’t any, that you could see, anyway. They wanted to show that they can plan and pull off stuff with precision and on a gigantic scale, and there’s no doubt — they did it, big time.

I surrender. There is no way to stop the Chinese. They are alien (like, totally!), they are many, they are ancient, they are modern, they are clearly superior. Learn the language, folks. This will be the Chinese Millennium.

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11 Replies to “The Chinese Millennium”

  1. But what if we just kill them all with a million bombs? Maybe while Bush is still there? We don’t need him, we have others who will be glad to rape and ravage the land and violate the constitution. Whatever happened to the theory that we could kill their millions before they could kill our millions? They can’t ALL hide under that goddamn floating dance floor!

  2. Ah, an error in judgment, watching The Today Show every morning. That leads to all sorts of ills – repeating oneself, banality, baldness, toothiness, laughing at not funny jokes. Seek help asap – or stay up late as to avoid mornings.

    BTW, China has about 20% of the world’s population.
    The US comes in at 4.5%

  3. Ron – Not only are they technologically advanced, but there’s so many of them they will survive no matter what we try. In any case, bombing them should not be our first impulse, should it?

    Bill – Hey, I’ve been watching to see when Dave Garroway is coming back from vacation. Anyway, I don’t pay much attention to it — I turn it on in case something has happened in the world overnight. After they tip me off, I can get the details online. Also, I’m deeply in love with the local NBC weathercaster.

  4. Dave’s coming back? I’d settle for Jack Paar.

    On the China note…. my wife has had numerous biz trips to China and her snap shots show a country few of us realize exists. There’s a reason why steel and concrete are in global short supply – China is changing by the minute – high rises and roads show up seemingly overnight. Whole towns and villages are bulldozed away so that new hotel-resort-conference places can be built for Western use.

    The scale of what’s happening in China is staggering and there is no similar occurrence or model in this country.

  5. The opening ceremonies somehow managed to be awe-inspiring and deeply boring at the same time. And tai chi? Seriously? I had a movement teacher in college who insisted on starting our class every morning with tai chi. My opinion is that if what you’re called upon to do in class is equal to, or less beneficial than another hour of sleep, then you should be able to choose the sleep option.

  6. And get 2,000 tai chi masters who are all the same height with the same hair style to wear the same outfit and synchronize their choreography perfectly!

    The Greeks, they are not a collectivist society. They could not get organized enough for a great opening ceremony, but they sure do have fun.

  7. Bill – So that’s where the paving stones in my patio have been going!

    Vikki – What the hell is a movement teacher?

    kStyle – This morning (on The Today Show, where else?) I saw the “Light Dancers” again — those guys in the green suits that light up. There were probably 2,000 of them at the opening ceremony, and everybody matched. That’s because 230,000 people auditioned for that gig. 230,000. Talk about collectivist. Talk about a cattle call.

  8. Oddly, no fights broke out.

    That line got me lol! Thx!

    Hey! One of the few events I managed to flip to was Team Handball. No idea who was playing. I just had never seen the sport before so stopped to watch ’til I figured out what it was. Oh yah.. It was Germany against somebody. I think…

    Vive la Chin! Errr… or somethin’.


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