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Freeze Peach | Olympic Medaling, at Any Cost (Part II)

By J.B.Browne

America's Olympic Goal: US Exceptionalism, at Any Cost

(Doug Mills/The New York Times)

As a microcosm of American media reporting across the board, let's start with this absurd headline that no "free" media outlet with an equestrian hoof of credibility would ever publish unironically ever. Except, of course, Mr. Ed, the New York Times did exactly that with this locked and loaded headline on China's Olympic bid six days into the games.

According to the article sub, Hou Zhihui of China's Olympic "sports machine" won weight lifting gold in the women's 49-kilogram division in Tokyo, as part of her "single goal" to "shatter" three Olympic records for "the most golds" and "at any cost" as she and her teammates formed part of a "fearsome Chinese squad" that aimed to "sweep" every weight class it was contesting. How ridiculous that she should have sacrificed her life for this one glorious moment, a drop of athlete machine milk born from the bosom of a state apparatus hell-bent on world domination through gold medals.

Due to China's innate lack of innovation, dystopian Chinese sports programs are, in fact, an attempt to mimic the more successful and "brutalist" American sports machine. But at what cost? Side note: Nassar was sexually assaulting the girls for decades. (Screenshot)

When the US Olympic team returned triumphant from Rio in August 2016, they boasted a colossal medal haul with 46 golds, topping the international table for the second games running. According to decorated former US gold medalist Carl Lewis, anything less would have been "totally embarrassing and completely unacceptable" about a country accustomed to Olympic domination.

Looking radiant. Dalilah Muhammad celebrated her gold medal in the women's 400m hurdles at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in 2016 and who benefitted directly from US government funding for her success. All countries are involved with state funding, using the Olympics as a platform for nationalist sentiment. It's normal for them to splurge on athletic teams to win medals, though when it's China… at what cost? (Getty Images)

The article's monochrome tone of dehumanization (defined as the psychological process of a written voice through which ideas of 'otherness' are perceived as non-human) and the writer's overly silent projection about medals and national pride wreaks of wreckless sinophobia. Allegedly, for her gold medals, Hou, one of 1.4 billion unwilling victims of communist authoritarianism, was forced to train six days a week since she was 12, driven by a thirst to "heave" more than double her weight in gold to please her communist overlords. The training "paid off" primarily because China's sports conveyor belt is designed for but one purpose: "churning out gold medals for the glory of the nation," writes enlightened reporter Hannah Beech.

Another example of how biased reporting is framed to make the same thing appear 'good' and 'bad.'

When it's America… (Twitter: @isgoodrum)
When it's China… (Twitter: @isgoodrum)

Beech's article swamps along incredulously, throwing out this fantastically wobbly passage somewhere in the middle. It refers to doping scandals in general, but, of course, specifically, China, which Beech frames as the worst culprit in the history of mankind ever:

"Doping is rampant in weight lifting, and China is hardly the only country to have been caught. But an individual making the decision to take drugs is not the same as children being directed to do so by the state."

China's growing influence is so secretive, it forces athletes in free, democratic societies to cheat more. But at what cost? (Screenshot)

She's exactly right, though. The freedom to choose and to evade is far better than being pushed by a brutal sports machine, say, rather than individuals making individual sacrifices or having talent or the personal agency to choose to train (or dope) in the first place. You know, like US cyclist Katie Compton of which US media wrote of her doping scandal as just "another victim of contamination" (she blamed her body's anabolic steroid spike on "inorganic beef" (aww)). Or runner Shelby Houlihan, who missed the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for nandrolone, which she blamed on a winged "pork burrito" that flew into her veins when she was sleep-dreaming of gold. Another innocent victim of communism. Sorry, *contamination.

NYT: "Listen, folks. She's either lying about being 'anti-doping,' or some miraculous meat happened, and it's really not her fault, ok? Sigh, why do these things happen to our great athletes? We're still not over Lance Armstrong's honesty. So brave of him to admit what he did." (NYT)

Lest we forget that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published figures for countries with the most doping violations two years ago. Aaaaand, the United States, clinched bronze, coming in after Italy and France, respectively. Longstanding Bond villain Olympic enemy No.1, Russia, placed fifth. And China? Not even in the Top 10. So what the Beech is she on about? And why is the hate-filled framing so salty aslant? At what cost?

The Art of Empire: Sport & Cultural Imperialism

The art of Olympic Medaling is not just the preserve of American hegemonic interests — despite medal table, um, meddling. It's also a game Anglosphere-media loves to play in a successful attempt to echo the bolder political narratives of the power structures that back them. In this way, the siren horns of "free" western media, despite its "independent" functions, somewhat indistinguishably, from Chinese "state" media. Both are foreign policy instruments of state propaganda.

White is 'alright!' says Reuters. It's easy to fall for anti-China propaganda with contrasting images like these. (Reuters)

In his 2007 scholarly article Rethinking Sport, Empire, and American Exceptionalism, Steven W. Pope identifies a thrust of American sporting discourse that resonates most powerfully during the Olympics, which is now essentially a platform to flaunt the national-ideological superiority of Americanism and capitalism. Pope describes this win-at-all-cost passion for dominance as the "soft power" underbelly of a cultural imperialism that cannot and will not be denied.

"We hate the CCP, not the Chinese people!" "Until the Chinese people start winning Olympic gold medals, that is." (Reuters)

The modern Olympics started in 1896 within a context of "raging imperial rivalries," providing the ideal display cabinet to dramatize symbolic power, however real or imagined. But it was during Cold War 1.0 that the healthier side of sporting geopolitical fisticuffs turned sour with fixed ideas of "the enemy" and "otherness." Opposing ideological views only emboldened the competition between countries and especially America's vision of itself as an aspirational nation on a mission to export and celebrate the "American Way of Life."

Ooops, we did it again. Modern cameras have ultra-quick flashcards that can take as many as 30,000 pictures in RAW format continuously. Scalici and her deputies deliberately chose ugly Chinese photos to distort reality for the "needs of the US government" (see above).

Cold War Games 2.0

We should also bear witness to what is occurring before our very eyes. Over the past few years, increasingly and at every stage, the US has sought to foment Cold War 2.0 with China in a very similar fashion to the first one with the Soviet Union. They are comparable as the lines of truth for how 1.0 occurred have been cynically distorted in revisionist history. But now we have the Internet. We can watch in real-time, find analysis channels away from mainstream media (with big tech approval), see videos they don't want you to see (with big tech approval), and make up our own minds (posting our opinions with big tech approval).

Reality vs. alternate reality: A deep rooted bias infused Olympic coverage especially towards Chinese athletes. Anglo-sphere AUKUS media are not above politicising the triumphs of a teenager for their smearing objectives (news.com.au)

The kindling of Cold War 2.0 took a nasty upward swing last Wednesday with the AUKUS three-pronged declaration of further nuclear armaments with an evident eye on China. From now on, our new reality will be military think tank propaganda, paranoia, and the triumphant return of white imperialistic views of the "otherness" of "the enemy." Now is the era where China and the Chinese people will be distorted beyond earthly recognition — a nifty mind control trick that helps ferment collective consent for war within the simplest of "good vs. evil" frameworks. We saw this with Iraq and Afghanistan; nothing more to say about that.

But in a cruel twist of lime-squeezed irony, the same care of manipulated coverage reserved for the main Olympics vanished during the Paralympics. Ironic because Americans venerate the disabled war veterans who highlight the deep ties between the Paralympics and the US military. Or perhaps embarrassingly, China's "dystopian sports machine" with socialist characteristics is just better at nurturing Paralympians who don't have the extra baggage of PTSD from a recent oil invasion.

BBC: "We stand with the Chinese people in their pursuit of freedom of expression." Also BBC: "Just not like that, old bean!"Maoist China presented to the world the case of a non-white revolution against Anglo-Saxon imperialism – Mao badges symbolize a similar yet subtler version of the 1968 Olympic Black Panther salute. One is condemned without historical context, the other now venerated despite the ongoing struggle of the BLM movement. (Wikipedia/Qiao Collective/BBC)

Still, as Cold War 2.0 crescendos in the South China Sea not even over a month after the disastrous bare-back pull out of Afghanistan, western electorates, those egalitarian "free" societies who vote for their leaders but never for war or policy, might and will recall their collective memories of how global events like the Olympics were covered. And they will look back at all the ugly Chinese, the unhappy faces, the bogus accusations of cheating, and human rights abuses to train under a commie gun to win at all costs. And they will mentally bang the war drums, consent manufactured, unknowingly adopting the unfettered hawkishness of their leaders toward nations who dare to resist the conformity neoliberalism demands, jeering for conflict against an "otherness" they do not understand nor ever did but now mysteriously despise. And they will recall the machine-like portrayals of Chinese athletes in articles like Beech's and others like it and think their leaders are doing the right thing to save them, to dominate them, to push them down at any cost.

But, at what cost?

As he would refer himself, J.B. Browne is a half "foreign devil" living with anxiety relieved by purchase. HK-born Writer/Musician/Tinkerer.


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.


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