Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 69: Beware the PRK

My sponsored child - Ana Carla Torres - might be happier than me this morning. You see, Ana Carla Torres (ACT) lives in Brazil and her team have just won, predictably, their opening game at South Africa 2010 (the World Cup) against a plucky team from the PRK (the People’s Republic of Korea) better known as North Korea to you and I.

ACT is my third sponsored child. What was it that Oscar Wilde said: “to lose one parent is unfortunate but to lose two is careless” or something like that? The first sponsee was the wonderfully monikered, Mohammed Ali, who left his village in Bangladesh to head to the big city. After him came Bisnu Baroi, who trod the same path and only then came ACT.

But, at the risk of sounding patronising, how delightful to see and think of the disenfranchised of the world enjoying themselves this morning; and that’s not just ACT that I’m thinking of, but those people behind the rice curtain in the PRK. It’s funny isn’t it, North Korea has been so demonised, especially of late, with the investigation into their sinking of a South Korean ship last year and yet here they are, taking their place with 31 other nations of the world - including their justifiably (?) embittered neighbours from the south of the Korean Peninsula.

The chances of the two teams playing each other in this tournament are remote, but wouldn’t it be fantastic? Previous World Cups have thrown up other ‘interesting’ politically infused games; in recent times I recall England vs Argentina four years after the Falklands War; that was the famous “hand of God game”, not only remembered for the goal that Diego Maradonna and God scored together, but for the individual goal (divinely inspired) that he scored not long after - arguably the best goal ever scored in a World Cup?

I remember the USA and Iran facing each other not long after one of the flashpoints in the Middle East and there’s been countless Balkan vs Balkan match-up’s. Worthier football historians that I will, I’m sure, be able to trot out many more examples of where nations, often at each other’s throats, have been able to find the green turf of a football pitch a better place to sort out their respective differences. Make’s me want to start humming “...we are the world, we are the people...”

ACT and PRK aside, another abbreviation caught my eye whilst watching the game from Johannesburg this morning. As the electronic advertising hordings around the ground changed from time to time, I noticed a Sony ad spruiking “It’s better in 3-D”.

I don’t get the ports-on-3D -TV-thing? Am I being a luddite? I don’t think so.

When the World Cup was hosted in the USA in 1974, the American broadcasters lobbied to have the rules of “soccer” tweaked a little. See, “soccer” is an also-ran sport in the United States and in an effort to gain the support of the American public, it was suggested to FIFA (football’s world governing body) that maybe a few rule changes could be introduced to “jazz the game up a little”. How about this one: if it’s a draw on 90 minutes, why not start reducing the players on each side, two at a time until.....shucks, there’s just the goalkeepers left, on the pitch, running at each other?! That’s not the only one that they came up with and what makes things worse, is the fact that FIFA actually considered some of these changes!!!!!!!!!!!

In my nearly fifty years of watching this game, I can count the significant onfield rule changes, probably on the fingers of one hand. Football is very successful because it works very very well as is; the game does not need jazzing up, pepping up, livening up or any other form of “upping”. Why I and most other people watch it is because we love the game just as it was handed down to us and I, for one, intent to hand it on that way. For me, all I can see 3-D viewing to be, is more “jazzing up”.

Go waste your money on a 3-D television screen if you have to, I’m sure that life is impossible without one and I’m sure that’s why Mohammed Ali and Bisnu Baroi headed to the city, so that they could earn enough Rupees to own their own 3-D sets. I’m certain (and yes you can accuse me of “contempt prior to investigation”) that anyone watching football on a 3-D set is actually more interested in the viewing technology than they are in the game: spectacle over meaning maybe, worship of the teapot not the tea?

Day #69 Tip: Trust in Aristotle
I follow Aristotilean thinking when it comes to dramatic writing.

The Greek philosopher and scientist (384-322 BC) founded a school outside Athens (the Lyceum) and, amongst many other endeavours, penned the seminal work on dramatic writing (from which all others flow), his Poetics. He lit the flame and the torch was carried from writer to writer to those thinking-about-writing, down through the centuries to the screenwriting “scholars” that I often mention here: Christopher Vogler, Syd Field, Linda Seger, Linda Aronson, Michael Hauge and Robert Mckee. It all began with the Greeks and Aristotle.

Here’s something that McKee passes on from Aristotle: in the Poetics, Aristotle puts forward the notion that there is some sort of hierarchy of prerequisites needed in dramatic writing for it to reach greatness; first must come “story”, second “character” , third on the list is “dialogue”, fourth “costume and setting”, then “music and dance” and finally “spectacle.” Mr McKee argues that we’ve got that hierarchy of needs upside-down these days. There’s Greek food (by way of California) for thought.

I’m hoping that, like me, Aristotle wouldn’t have felt the need to embellish the football-watching experience with the three-dimensional option on offer, but maybe I’ve got it wrong. I just can’t believe that, when Mr Ji Yun Nam of the PRK pulled a goal back in the dying seconds of the game against the greatest exponents of the world game (Ana Carla Torres’s Brazil) that watching in in 3-D could have done anything to improve on the meaning of that moment or made it any “better”.

Olé, olé, olé, olé

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