The Corner

Cruelty to Little Girls

Before the event recedes farther from view, I wanted to say something about the little-girl switcheroo, pulled by the People’s Republic of China. You know: One little seven-year-old, Yang Peiyi, won the competition to sing at the opening ceremony. But, in the words of one report, “at the last moment a member of the Chinese politburo who was watching a rehearsal pronounced that the winner . . . might have a perfect voice but was unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.” So they substituted a prettier girl, nine-year-old Lin Miaoke. The older girl lip-synched to a recording of the younger girl.

I have three (main) things to say — something serious and two things light. I’m going to start with the light ones:

1. Isn’t it a matter of Western racism to focus on Chinese buck teeth?

2. Some important opera administrators are behaving like the Chinese Politburo now — hiring for looks, rather than on musical qualities.

3. Damn that Chinese Politburo — forget the fakery and all that jazz. What a thing to do to a seven-year-old girl — tell her she’s too ugly to appear in public, though the party will be happy to use her voice. That’s one of the worst things about Communist and dictatorial regimes: They are cruel to little girls. I once ended a review that way — of a memoir by a daughter of American Communists, who was taken to Czechoslovakia and China and endured a series of hells.

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