09 September 2011

9/11 and Rugby: Odd juxtaposition

For an interesting Kiwi American perspective on 9/11 anniversary and the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, check out Tim Wilson's take . . . an excerpt

The murder of just over 3000 civilians was a spectacle seemingly made for television, and unleashed all kinds of consequences, intended and unintended, including Bin Laden's own bloody execution earlier this year.

As the world returns its eyes to New York (somewhat wearily perhaps; the hacks agree this will be the last big year for 9/11 ceremonies), New Zealand is justifiably receiving some attention as the Rugby World Cup commences.

I've been thinking about 9/11 and the RWC. The two events share only the characteristic of being spectacles of a dimension not previously witnessed within those countries.

What happens during such events, and what follows? Having observed 9/11 for the past 10 years, I can suggest some general points.

First off, the prophets will be proved wrong (feel free to consider what follows as prophecy). For example, I remember reading well-reasoned stories about how Osama Bin Laden had slaughtered irony in American cultural discourse. My arse he did.

Okay, I'll amend that. Expect a lot of nonsense. Much of it will be well-intentioned speculation by members of the press who are trying to earn a living.

On no account are such people to be taken seriously.

Go make a cuppa

An excellent tell is the reliance of the first person plural. When a columnist/journalist starts overusing the royal 'we', go and make a cuppa.

The rule of big events is that they're essentially meaningless, in that they're so large they can be twisted to mean whatever you decide. Rugby is good; rugby is bad. Rugby fans drink excessively, with boorish results.

They have too much/too little fun when doing so, and become prone to self-pity. Will there be a baby-boom, post RWC? Yes! Yes! All of the above. In big events, there are too many stories.

Conversely, a cast of familiar characters will emerge. They'll come - for better or worse - to exemplify whatever it is that the Rugby World Cup is finally agreed to represent.

Take, Rudi Giuliani, NY mayor at the time of 9/11. Some believe he's a hero. Others say he's a cross-dressing fascist. Strong evidence exists to support both views.

A line in the sands of history can be etched from 9/11 that includes Dick Cheney and George Bush. Perhaps -depending on the RWC's outcome - another line may be drawn extending to Graham Henry and Ritchie McCaw.

Whatever fissures exist within the country will only be exacerbated. Big events only erase divisions momentarily.

Remember the Le Monde headline the day after 9/11, "We're all Americans now"? It was true that morning of Europeans and Americans, Republicans and Democrats. All felt united. A few months later many Americans didn't feel like Americans. Unity - if produced - will be passing.

The event won't change anything fundamental. How can it?

But what follows the event will be decisive, as was the case with the Iraq war.

Some will profit from the event hugely. Others won't. The difference will not be a measure of comparative intelligence, but it will gauge scruple.

Enough. Some will be muttering to themselves this very blog is poor form. Of course it is.

The crucial difference between 9/11 and the RWC is that one spectacle was a terrorist attack, while the other is a series of games held with the intention of discovering a winner, and entertaining some people at odd hours of the morning around the world.

9/11 was a horror show; the RWC's a sporting fixture. Pray God they don't get confused, and play on.

Tim lives in the US and reports back to NZ via TV One and other outlets. He's often enroute to somewhere else. He writes with humour, insight and common sense. I like that. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimWilsonBarrio

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Well, thank goodness he says not to take him seriously either - if I followed his advice I'd be awash with tea!