Archive | July, 2010

The Ungenius World Cup

20 Jul

The FIFA TM (PBUH) World Cup was a wonderful event, full of celebration and excitement and all of that good stuff, but what place does such an event have on a site dedicated to whingeing and celebration of failure? So let’s pay tribute to Africa’s World Cup by chronicling its most noteworthy failures.

#5 The Vuvuzela
VuvuzelaIt’s easy to hate the vuvuzela. It’s loud and monotonous, none of which is all that endearing. It reminds me too much of Lloyd Christmas’ most annoying sound in the world. Yet somehow, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I don’t hate it all that much. It did add a unique flavour to Cup, and at least none of the games were silent and funereal. But for flattening out the highs and lows of crowd participation and for making it impossible for any other kind of noise (singing for instance), the Vuvuzela enters the Ungenius rankings at #5.

#4 Afropessimists
afropessimismThe idea of holding a tournament in Africa led to all sorts of predictions about how much of a shambles it was going to be. If the prophecies had all come to pass, our politicians would have run off with all the money, the stadia would all have fallen down, and the natives would have cannibalised all the tourists in their over-priced B&Bs. Countless South Africans just knew that nothing would be finished on time and that the games were going to be disasterously mismanaged. Even the Guardian UK kept running reports about how foreign visitors were staying away because of the exorbitant costs and danger to visitors. We were back to lions roaming the streets. In reality, it went off virtually without a hitch, and it was as safe as any Cup has been. Every one of the pessimists were proved wrong. I haven’t heard any retractions yet. No apologies. Still waiting.

#3 Picture delay on the public broadcaster
tension graphIf you were subjected to the local broadcasting of the tournament, you would have to have suffered a commentator who said ‘from x’s point of view’ and ‘as far as the x is concerned’ at least 50 times a match. But that was not the biggest worry. The most Ungenius mistake made by the SABC was the delay of the visuals at least a second behind the commentary. This had the effect of making the commentators seem especially sharp during regular play, quoting the name of the player as he received the pass. Unfortunately when the commentator got excited about the possibility of a goal, the viewer heard about it before it happened. By the time the striker hit the ball, you could already hear in the commentator’s voice whether or not it was going to be successful. It was a little bit like having someone notifying you what is just about to happen in the movie you’re watching. It’s unbelievably annoying not to be able to experience the growth and release of tension at the proper times. I tried switching to the radio commentary once, but the radio commentators were describing the action replays before we got to see the goal being knocked in.

#2 FIFA’s baffling technophobia

Goal disallowed

It only crossed the line by a yard. Too close to call.

For some reason, FIFA imagines that we all secretly appreciate it when our favoured teams suffer a serious injustice. Disallowed goals, bad offside calls, red cards for nothing… we all love it when our teams crash out because of a referee error, because football is all the richer for the beautiful analogueness of it. Well bugger it, FIFA, the rest of us like technology. We enjoy watching the replays. We like computer-assisted visuals that reveal whether someone was offside or not. I’m dern sure Frank Lampard would have been happy to have a one-minute breather while the refs consulted the TV on his goal against the Germans. The difference between 2-1 and 2-2 at half time is huge. The difference between telling your grandkids that you banged in a cracker at a World Cup and that you went to a couple of tournaments but got nothing… that’s pretty big. So thanks FIFA. I’m sure all of the hard-done-bys are really grateful that you’re scared of the computer.

#1 Letting Adidas reinvent the football
Jabulani Beach BallSouth Africa spent a lot of billions organising this World Cup. Players have been training their whole lives for this moment. Oh, but by the way, that ball that you’ve been training with your whole lives? Yes, you won’t be using that one. We’ve let Adidas decide what you’ll be playing with, and they quite liked the way a beach ball behaves in the air, so they’ve gone with something like that. Hope you don’t mind. The goalkeepers? No you guys will probably flap at it a bit, or palm it back straight down the middle. Freekicks? Um, no, it’s quite hard to get used to, so you’ll be hitting it like a rugby conversion for the first 6 or 8 games. It’ll be a rubbish spectacle until sometime in 2012 when you’ve all had a good go at it. Sound alright? Good! On we go then!


Wedlock and Mandible

1 Jul

We’re a little over half-way through the World Cup proceedings, and I have completely missed the opportunity to rail on our mascot.

mascot zakumi

Zakumi the FIFA WC mascot

South Africa is ‘safari’ country, and we punt the Big Five all the time, so it is fitting that our mascot, Zakumi, should be some kind of big cat. I think he’s meant to be a humanoid leopardy thing. It’s hard to tell, because the much-vaunted AFRICAN World Cup has borrowed it’s aesthetic from Japanese anime. Obviously. Why would you not?

And when you come to the stadia, you will be eating American Mc-Cardboard TM and drinking breathtakingly overpriced Budweiser or Coke, and that’s about it. [I thought democracy was about choice?]

“Democracy: now on sale to the highest bidder!”

Our opening ceremony also featured one or two bad imitations of American Hip-hop, and I think one genuine bad American Hip-hopper. African-American Africans. That’s us.

Even Shakira’s WC song ‘This is time for Africa’, or whatever it is, features a distinctively Indian dance move at the chorus, which I suppose is meant to capture the average American’s grasp of world geography.

Oh well. Except for when he’s really badly animated (i.e. most of the time), Zakumi is pretty cute.

It could be much worse. It could be London 2012.

The Olympic Logo, which is just MTV circa 1987, apparently causes seisures, not (as far as I can tell) because it flashes too much, but just because the brain can’t handle that much ugliness at once without stroking out. The logo isn’t the only issue. Their Olympic mascots, known as Wenlock and Mandeville, have also received mixed reviews. While they haven’t just ripped off anime, my problem is that they appear to have ripped off Nickelodeon’s Plankton:

They were allegedly designed at unusually low cost, which — while commendable on one level — really shows.