Spielberg Rethinks Beijing 08–part II

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Per Simon’s previous post on Steven Spielberg possibly resigning as an unpaid “artistic adviser” (whatever that may be) to the Beijing Olympics: I’d be fascinated to learn what it was that prompted Spielberg to sign on in the first place. No doubt it was at some level a commercial calculation–Dreamworks gets more films approved to show in China–but I also wonder whether at some point a few years ago China didn’t become vaguely “cool,” at least among the (self appointed) arbiters of such things in the West. Young Dot.commers and VCs and other business types were running around Shanghai and Beijing, getting blasted out of their minds at packed techno clubs, the memories of Tiananmen had long since faded, and Beijing 08 approached. There was–and is–undeniable energy and forward motion in the country’s major cities.
But now, just a year away from the Olympics, Chinese companies are in the dock for poisoning toothpaste and Thomas the Tank Engines (et al), the government is taking withering abuse for being the Sudanese government’s best friend on the planet, and the Hollywood crowd believes the United States should leave Iraq yesterday but invade Sudan tomorrow. So Mia Farrow calls Spielberg the ‘Leni Riefenstahl” of the Beijing Olympics.
Suddenly China doesn’t quite seem so cool anymore.