TV, Films and Football
Big Brian Yates captures a microcosm of the 20th Century's great cultural phenomena, in a single night in front of the box
Tuesday night’s menu offered serious political documentary and a psychological study of the twentieth century’s major art form. It also offered the world cup semi-final between Germany and Italy (ITV 1, 8pm) So guess what I watched?
Half-time in the footy did give me a chance to catch part of China (BBC 2, 9pm) where some professors talked about the freedom of political protest. ‘We are a nation drowning in lies,’ said one. (Cue mental visions of diving footballers.) ‘We have a slave mentality; we should take up a sword and fight,’ added another.’ A third suggested that, ‘rich people’s dogs live better than the peasants.’
After the 90 minutes were up, psychologist Slavoj Zisek explained what movies can tell us about our deepest, darkest desires and fears (he had not replaced Terry Venables, rather he presented The Perverts’ Guide to the Cinema, More 4, 10pm). From Vertigo to The Matrix, films show that our desires for pleasure require fantasy and that, if we look too closely at the truth, we find ‘shit.’ I think of Zinedine Zidane and Argentinian midfield play. Then I think of Rooney and England.
But among all this highbrow navel gazing there was a football match to watch. The German press had whipped up the tension by referring to the Italians as ‘oily mama’s boys’. Military imagery is rife as young men whose dogs live better than peasants pick up their swords to fight. “No prisoners!” declared Clive Tyldesley. David Pleat caught metaphor madness, calling Genarro Gatuso a "splendid ferret" before suggesting that another player had taken to his new position "like a duck to water . . . and stuck to his guns!" But then something strange happened: a fouled player starts to perform his multiple dying swan roll, changes his mind, gets up and accepts the proffered hand of the fouler. As an Italian player lies injured, one German kicks the ball into touch while another massages his opponents leg! Liberal refereeing seems to have encouraged this game to be played in a positive spirit, suggested Tyldesley. We have a serious political message here. “The two teams have behaved like men!" hymns our commentator. And there is hope for humanity.