Beyond the Five-Ring Beijing Circus

Brian Allen Anderson

The orgy that is mainstream Olympic Games coverage (and the subsequent applauding over Beijing’s city-wide “blue-day” environmental initiatives) is shattering just as many records as that Phelps guy.Consider these numbers: NBC Universal, with its stranglehold on Games coverage, is broadcasting its 11th Olympics (a record) and, when all’s said and done, will have aired a dizzying 3,600 hours (nearly 2,900 live) of Beijing goings on (also a record). In its first two days alone, NBC coverage pulled in some 114 million viewers (yet another record).To the chagrin of progressive media and activists alike (sports fans or not), Big Media’s doting over the Games – and their hostess, Beijing – has in large part bypassed, you know, the rest of the world’s most populated country. “VBS: Made in China” undercuts Big Media’s Beijing bulwark in ways only Vice could manage, i.e. gallivanting across the country sans visas with Birthday Boyz (“one of the last American bands to be let in”), through Shanghai with Yang Lei (winner of “Super Girl,” China’s version of American Idol x 15), and into the capital city to spotlight a surprisingly vibrant punk scene.More disturbing, though, is a peak into the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s pervasive “Golden Shield” web-nanny/bully initiative and a tour of Linfen, a coal-mining town in Shanxi Province known to be the most polluted city on the globe. “Toxic Linfen,” not to be missed, can be viewed here.(Note: To its credit, Linfen is trying to clean up. Ürümqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, has since taken the top (bottom) spot as world’s filthiest city).

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