Still 86

Ruthless. Lead. Charge. Wary. Attack. Fight.  Fire with fire.

When the right war comes along, one that ticks the right nationalistic box, one where our collective manhood is impugned, “we” will be ready to charge over the top all over again.

Thanks rugby.  Job done.

Well not quite.  NZ Rugby has made an effort to even more specifically link rugby and war to celebrate commemorate World War One.  In their video we see battlefields and rugby fields, panoramas of devastated French and Belgian landscapes, and the news that:

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Fuck.  I never even knew World War One was so bad.

After the list of the 13 dead All Blacks no on remembers NZ Rugby tells us: We will remember them… forever.  Should we remember their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and wives and children too?  Nah, just them.

NZ Rugby are warmongers in the business of perpetuating the systems that led the West to devastate others, and then glorify those actions.

When the time comes will YOU be ready?

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Belong to what?  Adidas, AIG, Ford, Rexona?  Fonterra and Weetbix?

The devotion of fans is greedily monetised and loyalties taken for granted at every conceivable moment…. its form is association, socialism, the sociability of players and fans yet its material substrate is money… often from highly questionable sources.  Football is completely commodified, saturated in sponsorship and the most vulgar and stupid branding. 

Simon Critchley

We always seem to need to be reminded that the environment is collapsing through human action because almost anything can make us forget.  We might profess to care about the environment at one moment and then sit down to watch our favourite team brought to us by a car company, and an aerosol company, with the confusing interleaving of adverts for a dairy conglomerate brought to us by an All Black divinity.  Fonterra.

I remember watching the All Blacks rumble out for the very first time with some sponsorship on their jerseys.  It was for Steinlager.  At the time people had opinions about this.  I was of the opinion that it was bad, but I couldn’t tell you why.

I figured it out why when I was working for an English language corporation in Japan.  It had a corporate culture which insisted on loyalty and devotion and long hours.  This message went down well with the Japanese staff, but was received indifferently by the 22 year old English speaking teachers on one year contracts.  It occurred to me then that corporations may demand loyalty, and make exciting pep talks, but that they are corporations and don’t give a shit.  You might buy into the loyalty thing but when you are not economically viable you will be fired.  A job is just a job and money makes it that.

And so a game of rugby should just be a game of rugby.  Maybe you pay to watch a game of rugby and then leave.  Or, even better, you don’t pay, and it’s about the social event as well as the game, and the game is about testing yourself against others who also want that test.

But it’s hard to remember that because NZ Rugby and their corporate sponsors want you to think other things.  To think about “just” wars, and nationalism, and belonging as window dressing for the even greater truth of buying things.  We used to have the church tell us about gender, and patriotism, and sexuality now we have corporate rugby to do the same job and repeat the same messages.

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Vodafone and NZ Rugby want us to think about how “it connects us” (like a British multinational telecommunications company), and  how the love of the All Blacks is handed down through generations, from wise old father and gently supportive mum to son and daughter – daughter who is appropriately attracted to the heterosexual All Blacks.

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What’s happening here?  Are they singing for Adidas, the All Blacks or Vodafone?  With their hands clutching their corporate hearts.

And if you’re not into it?  If you don’t like anthems about God and war, or rugby, or rampant nationalism and heterosexuality and hyper-masculinity?  What then?

What are ya?  A  bloody girl?

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