China: Spielberg boycott

LONDON - China can expect more outbursts by celebrities and athletes angry at its perceived support for Sudan but opinion is divided over whether such action ahead of the Beijing Olympics will have any impact on Chinese policy.

Campaigners say the withdrawal of film director Steven Spielberg as artistic adviser to the Games in August is a sign of things to come for the Chinese organizers.

“The Olympics is China’s debutante ball - their chance to announce themselves on the international stage,” said Save Darfur spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure.

“If things in Darfur don’t change, it is going to get more high profile, more embarrassing, more lonely.”

Mr. Spielberg said his conscience would not allow him to continue working and he pledged to spend his time and energy not on Olympic ceremonies, but on trying to end the “unspeakable crimes against humanity” in Darfur.

On Monday, nine Nobel Peace Prize winners wrote a letter to China asking it to uphold the Olympic ideals by pressuring Sudan over Darfur.

China is accused by critics of shielding Khartoum in the face of international efforts to send peacekeepers to Darfur. It says the Games should not be politicized and any link made between Darfur and the Olympics is irresponsible and unfair.

Amnesty International said it wanted prominent international actors to use the Olympics to raise concerns over rights issues in China, including the widespread use of execution, labour camps and attacks on rights workers.

But with its high profile celebrity activists such as George Clooney and Mia Farrow, Darfur is likely to dominate the agenda in the lead-up to the Aug. 8-24 Games.

China says it is unreasonable to blame it for killings and displacement in Sudan’s west. Campaigners such as the Save Darfur coalition say Chinese weapons sales and oil purchases give it enough clout to get Khartoum to halt atrocities.

“As human rights defenders we can only play on conscience, but China has to respond to the demands of the international community,” lawyer Salih Osman, the winner of the European Union’s top prize for human rights, said.

“International opinion necessitates that China should at least listen about what is going on,” Mr. Osman said.

Activists say Chinese officials have been happy to listen to their concerns but taken too little concrete action on Darfur.

China could even face the prospect of athletes using the event to raise the issue. Some international athletes have joined Team Darfur, a collection of sportspeople pushing for greater action.

“It’s a very tough to keep a polite silence about a conflict that continues to cost so many lives,” British badminton player Richard Vaughan told the Times newspaper.

“This is exactly what the Games are created to talk about,” American Joey Cheek, Olympic gold medallist at the 2006 Turin Winter Games, told reporters.

International experts say some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million fled their homes in more than four years of conflict since local rebels took up arms against the government, prompting the government to mobilize mainly Arab militias.

The British Olympic Committee inserted a clause in its contract for athletes going to Beijing that was described by newspapers as effectively a “gagging order.” After protests, it was dropped.

“We won’t be blocking anyone’s right to free speech,” she said. “But we hope that when they are in Beijing the athletes will be using their energy for training, not anything else.”

Campaigners say they believe the process labelling Beijing’s as a “Genocide Olympics” helped push China to agree to a United Nations resolution to send a UN peacekeeping force to replace a smaller African Union mission in Darfur.

But the force has been slow to deploy and violence in the region has spiked, with refugees and instability spreading into neighbouring Chad.

“I think (by the Olympics) things will be very much the same as they are now,” said Wolfram Lacher, Sudan analyst for London-based consultancy Control Risks.

“China has been very resistant to this sort of pressure. I don’t think it will have any effect.”

It’s pretty ironic that throughout the last century, SOME countries claiming to be Marxist (or in China’s case “an evolution of Marxist-Leninist”) actually go against a fundamental practice Karl Marx had: to question everything.

If you claim that you’re Marxist, then you’ve gotta let people question what you’re doing! Otherwise you’re just a hypocrite.

I thought the Olympic Games was beyond banning athletes for political reasons. Just let them say what they want. They’re only words.

With that said, I think the Chinese are going to put on an awesome show for us in Beijing. :). I’m pretty excited about it.


Tarantino to replace Spielberg as Olympic Adviser

Chinese government officials have revealed that controversial Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino has been drafted in to replace Steven Spielberg as Artistic Adviser to the Beijing Olympics.

The move follows Spielberg’s withdrawal earlier this week in protest to China’s failure to take action to resolve the crisis in Darfur, but there are fears that the new appointment may see some changes to the way the 2008 games are organized. On the athletics track there are already plans to have live ammunition in the starting gun with the official ruthlessly gunning down any runners who are too slow out of the blocks. The athletes themselves will also be heavily armed and will be expected to fire back from where they lie bleeding to death on the track. The race themselves will be at a slower pace, and will feature wise cracking men in sharp suits and sunglasses walking along the track to the sound of cool tracks from the 1960s.

Other track and field events will remain unchanged, although the relay race may involve athletes passing a fat joint to the next runner, while the white dust that the gymnasts rub on their hands might also appear around their nostrils. Fans of the gymnastics may also notice a slight change of style; instead of featuring pubescent East Europeans running round a mat with a ribbon, the girls will be clad in yellow leather and will beat up the judges using a variety of martial arts.

The plans have divided opinion in Beijing, with some athletes welcoming the ironic violence that has been so lacking from previous Olympiads. The resignation of Steven Spielberg was openly welcomed by the synchronized swimmers, who had always opposed the original appointment of the Jaws director; ‘We’d always been worried about his plans to spice up the event with the addition of synchronized sharks.’

Posted: 16 February 2008 by ianslat

Interesting concept of questioning everything. So, under Lenin, the Kulaks had the right to question why they were being shot just before the bullets struck.
If athletes can express their political opinions through statements, so too can Governments via more boycotts.
As the coach of many athletes who lost their Olympic dreams in 1980 to protect the poor Mujihadeen in Afganistan from the pesky Russians (while today, our government is asking the Russians and others for help fighting our former pals), I am somewhat jaded by this whole business.

Spielberg resigns- what was his event again??Synchronized Jaws is replaced by Reservoir Firing Squads. Should be interesting.

BEIJING, Feb 18, 2008 (AFP) - Hollywood film-maker Steven Spielberg has been ridiculed in the Chinese media and on the Internet for living in a sci-fi'' dreamworld over his decision to sever ties with the Beijing Olympics. Spielberg said last week that his conscience would no longer allow him to work on the Olympics as an artistic consultant while Sudan's China-backed government carried out genocide in its western Darfur province. Spielberg's films have been box office hits in China but the producer has come under regular attack after his withdrawal from the Beijing Games. This person is completely living in his sci-fi world and cannot distinguish dream from reality,’’ said a commentator in the China Youth Daily.
The official Xinhua news agency said Chinese people were baffled by the behaviour of the man behind blockbusters like E.T., Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List.
Mr Spielberg knows nothing about China's endeavour to solve the Darfur issue,'' Xinhua quoted a commentary in the Guangming Daily as saying. He is unqualified to blame the Chinese government.’’
Thousands of angry Chinese ganged up against him on Internet forums, according to the news agency.
They targeted Spielberg as a person who failed to keep his word'' and for linking politics to the Beijing Olympics. One posting said: The US slaughters civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. Director Spielberg, don’t you feel ashamed being an American?
``You don’t criticise your own country, then how can you criticise China?’’

But Spielberg’s work has been spared criticism, according to the Xinhua report, because Chinese people still loved his movies.
It quoted Xinghe, a Chinese writer, as saying that the US producer had inspired Chinese youngsters who love science fiction.
``He has great talent. We are regretful over his decision, but we can still enjoy his movies,’’ he said.

Fairly level response from the Chinese Govt, critizing him but still respecting his work.
Sadly, easy targets like the Olympics always will be chosen over actual real and effective but difficult and costly responses to murder and outrage in Darfur.

A number of countries established systems apparently based on the writings of Marx, but I am not sure Karl would be to happy to have his name associated. Lenin and others took their own desire for absolute power, but wrapped them in popular ideals, to try and cover the stench.

Putting down the copy of Das Kapital, now where are my running shoes.

I find Olympic boycotts completely abhorrent and unnecessary, but what can you really say? It’s politics and politics just keeps getting dirtier and dirtier.

Like recently with the Kosovo call for independence. I mean Kosovo is Serbian land and this is pretty clear according to international law – and the Albanian leaders of Kosovo just go “Nah, we don’t care about the law because the US is backing us.”

OK so Serbia’s had its troubles in the past, but since 2000 it has been a democracy and even just two weeks ago they had Presidential elections that went incredibly smoothly-- and I don’t think it’s a good idea to start breaking up fair and just democracies like that. It’s not right.