China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

The Spectacle: Beijing Olympics


Look – over there!
See the great flashes!
The towers crimson!
The showers golden!
What wonder! What fashion!
Are you looking?
Are you amazed?
Trust me! Please!
This will all be a breeze!
Why be afraid?
Take in the show!
Never mind what they say!
And now, it’ll be quick,
No pain but a prick!
Let it all fade away…

Oh, the greatest trick of all – with a nudge, point, and promise, arm around the shoulder, we are turned to the spectacle. Finally, we know why they invented fireworks – not to scare the ghosts away, but to divert their attention. “Hey, look at that!” they shout, and while we stand wide-eyed and gaping, eardrums dissolving and all hope of awareness eradicated, the needle slips in. “Opression? Pollution? Negligence? Just forget about it…” Not magic so much as salesmanship. Dazzle the senses, seal the deal. And after, when its over, all dazed with retinas glued over from the assault of light, we stand around in a stupor, like a bunch of tired, sobering junkies and we think, “Hell, it must have been worth it…”

Dazzle and daze – that’s the routine. The problem is maintaining it – how long can they make the spectacle last? How long before the viewers, and even the participants, grow so numb that they begin to remember that latent desire for something real? The show must come to an end.

Look! Yes, look, but be sure to shield your eyes from the blinding flame. Nothing works better than a good skeptical squint. Then you’ll see the dirt beneath the rugs; the cracks in the beams; the laughable thinness of it all. And listen, too. Listen past the blaring, megaphone bombast, and you just might hear a crackling voice call out, and realize there’s something else out there.

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