The Null Device


The Chinese government has hit upon a novel solution for preventing troublesome protests from erupting at Olympic events: surreptitiously lose most of the tickets, and bus in well-disciplined cheer squads to fill the empty seats, taking place of unpredictable members of the public:

Blocks of tickets went to government departments, Communist party officials or state-owned companies, which have quietly obeyed orders not to hand them out. “People are so angry because they slept all night outside ticket booths and got nothing and now they see this,” said one blogger, Jian Yu.
At some football matches in the northern city of Shenyang, only a third of the seats were taken. Even some gymnastics finals, usually one of the biggest attractions on the programme, were not sold out.
Of course, people who waited for tickets but failed to get them (from ordinary Chinese sports fans to the relatives of foreign competitors) are rather annoyed, though they are assuming that the purpose of the Olympics is to provide an entertaining spectacle (or, alternately, to serve as a promotional exercise for corporate sponsors). The Chinese government's view of the Games' purpose is somewhat different: to buy legitimacy for a worrisomely totalitarian one-party state (one typically associated with doing unspeakable things to cuddly PalesTibetans and Falun Gong monks, and/or executing people for trivial crimes, harvesting their organs and billing their families for the bullet) in the international market of public opinion. The government is taking this function of the Olympics very seriously, and leaving nothing to chance, from editing the blogs of Western Tibet protestors to recant their views to ensuring that everything is under control, even if they have to keep the audiences out of the stadia, to spending a huge amount of money and backing down on long-running disputes with neighbours:

And here is Charlie Brooker's take on it.

china deception olympics the spectacle totalitarianism 0