I, like record numbers of other people around the world, have been watching the 2008 Olympic Games and have been quite entertained. It’s not like I’m a huge fan of all the events, but the fact that it’s only shown once every four years kind of compels you to tune in.
Seeing as how the games are in Beijing this year, and have been treated as China’s “coming out party” to the international community signifying their almost inevitable rise as a global superpower, people have come up to me and been like, “Hey Cheddar, being a Chinese American and everything, what’s your take on the Olympics?” I don’t claim to be any kind of voice speaking for all Chinese Americans, but I do have some initial thoughts. Brace yourselves, this is probably going to be one of my longer posts.
- With China and the US being the two countries with the most medals won, and China having a sizable lead in the number of gold medals won, there’s been some clear “China vs. America, battle of the superpowers,” Cold War-esque shit going on in the coverage of the games. It’s reflective of America’s uneasiness with China’s rapid rise to power over the last twenty-five years, paralleled with the dismal state of our economy and strained relations with the global community (our whole history of imperialism and the Iraq War thing really doesn’t seem to be helping our image). It is also another reminder that as much as we would like to view sports as an objective institution used to promote “unity,” you can never separate sports and athletes from the political context they are in.
- Upon witnessing the spectacle of the games themselves, and seeing how important it clearly is to the Chinese government to display China to the world as a modernized, developed, civilized global powerhouse, the Chinese nationalist in me can’t help but be impressed by China’s rapid rise to power in recent years. I mean, this is a country that in a single generation, roughly twenty-five years, has gone from being a virtually closed society to one of the most important economies and trading powers of the world. The Chinese people probably look at this as the natural order of things, seeing as how they were the major global superpower for thousands of years of past history anyway. However, I’m also wary of this new Chinese “hyper-nationalism” that is popping up in reaction to things like protest over China’s military actions in Tibet. I love my people, but China’s dismal record of human rights abuses and political corruption cannot be excused or ignored. I’m all for altering the global power relations and humbling American arrogance, but I’m really hoping China doesn’t just become an equally oppressive global superpower. At the same time, it’s mad hypocritical for the US government to try to criticize China, the Soviet Union or any other nation about their human rights abuses (cough..that whole Iraq War/history of imperialism thing again).
- To the Spanish sports teams who recently took pictures for the Olympic games doing the “chink eye,” shame on you. What, are you all like seven fucking years old? Spanish basketball player and current Laker’s center Pau Gasol apparently thought it was “absurd” that anyone would take offense to the pictures. What a bunch of idiots. I already thought Gasol was a jackass, and this only further proves my point. I’m actually pretty late in commenting on this, as the Asian American blogs picked up on it fast and have been buzzing about it ever since, peep the homie P-Sani’s reactions here. The athletes that participated in this (the mens hoop team started it, then the womens hoop and soccer teams got in on the act as well) get a big “Fuck You” from the Box.
- Not Chinese related, but Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is a boss.
(Ali, Miya and Kori spending time with our Chinese “brothers” at the SF MOMA)
In other news, I recently was home in the Bay Area for a little while and got to check out the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MOMA). As an added bonus, the exhibit is right across from another exhibition on contemporary Chinese art with pieces made between 1988 and 2008. It was dope and I recommend it to everyone in the Bay.