I’ve never really understood the hijacking of the arts and sports by government for propaganda purposes. If I was living in poverty under a harsh regime where I couldn’t access news, voice an opinion, or practice my religion, I don’t think my dissent would be quelled because they put on a big street party or made a film saying how great things were.
But it seems to have been a common tactic used by most governments at some point. I’ve been intrigued for a while with the CIA’s championing of Abstract Expressionism in reaction to the Soviet realism. But yesterday, London found itself dragged into China’s propaganda party – the Olympic Torch Relay.
I can’t claim to know that much about the Tibet situation but the blatant use of the Olympics as a means of propaganda by the Chinese government makes me uncomfortable. The relay apparently was a tradition introduced by Hitler, so it is on dodgy grounds anyway. But I can quite understand why sports stars and athletes took part in it as they have genuine pride in the Olympics and the power of sport and most of them do seem to have agonised over whether to take part.
The same cannot be said for the D-list celebrities who also got in on the act yesterday. What business did former Blue Peter Presenter Konnie Huq have being there in the first place? She might play lip service to her love of sport now, but if that was the case just make a donation to a sports charity? What really motivated her and the other celebrities to come to this dubious event, was to keep their own names and faces in the paper.
So now its not just the Governments commandeering these events for their own ends, its also the celebs.