Media Events Are Still Alive: The Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics as a Media Ritual

Xi Cui


This article is situated in the scholarly debate over the relevance of the notion of media events in the contemporary social and media environment. In closely reading China Central Television’s (CCTV) presentations of the Beijing Olympic Games’ opening ceremony to the Chinese audience, the author argues that this mediated ceremony not only has important ritual features that qualify it as a media event, but also is intended to construct a national image rich in cultural meanings in order to consolidate the contemporary Chinese society. In addition, the author shows that the media event’s ritual function is also actualized through artistically produced spectacles charged with symbolism operating alongside the documentary live broadcast. This article aims to contribute to the literature on contemporary media rituals through a renewed understanding of media events in a different social and technological context.

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