Talking Movies

July 11, 2021

Any Other Business: Part LXIX

Filed under: Talking Politics — Fergal Casey @ 4:37 pm

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Purity of the Turf Revisited

There was an unfortunate coincidence the other week of happenings in the Tour de France and the European Championships. Kylian Mbappe was running at speed towards defenders and the commentator bellowed about how they were backing off because they were so afraid of him. Well, yeah, because he was near the edge of the penalty box and if they touched him he would fall down. Indeed if they didn’t touch him but merely invaded his personal space he would probably also fall down. Because, despite his great speed and skill, Mbappe would always rather fall down theatrically and seek a penalty or a free kick than ride a bad tackle for the sake of glory as Maradona did in the 1986 World Cup for his spectacular goal against England. But this is somehow now normal in soccer. When Jurgen Klinsmann joined Spurs in the mid-90s the parodic diving goal celebration was appreciated because it was understood that diving was wrong and he was repentant. Now diving is par for the course. Gamesmanship. Clever play. There are any number of euphemisms to cover such disgusting cowardly craven cheating. But on the same day Mbappe was being praised there had been a number of crashes in Le Tour. Geraint Thomas, after one, with an audible pop, had his dislocated shoulder put back in place, and then got back on his bike to continue the race. He is still continuing in the race. I’ve complained before about the decline of soccer as both spectator sport and character building exercise due to the incessant cheating and the tactical negativity (raised to an art form by the Italians). It is not hard to imagine a time-travelling Spartan on his way to compete at Olympia passing Geraint Thomas: “What was that pop?” “Dislocated my shoulder. Put it back in.” “Respect”. Can you imagine that same Spartan having anything other than utter contempt for the parade of dissemblers at the Euros? Bafflingly two Atlantic writers have been praising the England team. Because they make all the right gestures for all the right political causes. And this apparently makes it okay to completely overlook these footballers’ actual conduct as footballers. England might well win tonight, but it will have an asterisk after it, just like France’s disgraceful triumph in 2018. The conduct of their fans, booing the Danish national anthem, defended by Gary Neville, and shining laser pointers at the Danish goalkeeper before a penalty kick, was equalled only by the conduct of their players, diving to get an unwarranted penalty, and thereafter retreating into corners with the ball like they were small children going nah-nah-nah-nah-nah. I don’t know how such behaviour is a spectator sport. I don’t know how such behaviour is morally improving. And I certainly won’t be tuning in tonight to see a thrilling clash between such a cheating team and a team renowned for not playing, in an attitude of pure defensiveness that, if replicated, would see all matches everywhere end 0-0. The only way to win this curious game of petulant millionaires is not to play…

Intemperate language betrays inane logic

So, an incident at the RDS on Friday made me think about an unhinged conspiracy theory that rattled around Facebook back in 2013. Apparently the real reason that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning the Papacy was nothing to do with the rigours of the job and his advanced age. Oh no, it was to avoid being extradited *somewhere* to stand trial for covering up child abuse. Now, this didn’t seem all that logical. He would after all have to never leave the Vatican ever again by the logic of the argument. But he went to Castel Gandolfo a few months later. And no SWAT teams abseiled down from helicopters to crash thru the windows and arrest him for extradition. And they never have in all the years since. Because the argument was bollocks. And it was very obviously bollocks if you took the time to read the ‘article’ that was being breathlessly shared. The only problem was nobody did, because, in the manner of the scam outlined hilariously in the standout essay in Jessica Mitford’s Poison Penmanship, it played in to all their prejudices and fears about the world. I watched semi-aghast as numerous acquaintances after years of university education, who would regard themselves as educated and sophisticated, fell for gibberish, because they would also regard themselves as progressive, and this gave them a heaven-sent opportunity to vent Anti-Catholic bile in the name of justice. None of them ever posted anything retracting their venom when Benedict moseyed out of the Vatican, none of them ever gave any indication of feeling even a little bit sheepish about having fallen hook, line and sinker for total nonsense. Because none of them had stopped to wonder why the tone of the ‘article’ felt so wrong – breathless, abusive, poorly structured, poorly phrased, full of pseudo-legal claptrap. I couldn’t help but feel the same tonal incongruity the other day pouring forth endlessly, repetitively, and then see on Twitter and Facebook the faithful for whom it was meant lapping it up; all oblivious to the total insanity clear to anyone who would actually listen to it, think about it, and call it what it was – nonsense.

*As with a previous post on Legion I feel I ought clarify a drift from decorum; hopefully more people than not got the Blackadder Goes Forth reference and appreciated the tongue-in-cheek nature of using it amid a complaint about use of language.

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