Archive for November 6th, 2005

November 6, 2005

How to hurt your little sister

(In ten easy steps)

1. Find a friend willing to help you.
2. Steal your sister’s baby doll.
3. Take the doll outside.
4. Hang the doll up outside the garage
5. Obtain a football.
6. Take the football outside, near the garage.
7. Kick the ball in the general direction of the doll.
8. If you miss the doll, keep trying till you hit it.
9. Continue to use the doll as target practice till it eventually falls down.
10. Ensure that your little sister has been watching through the window.

And that is a recent ad for Nike Football. I saw it for the fisrt time yesterday, and was mildly amused by the first part. I mean, there is a certain amount of dark humour in the stringing up of baby dolls (..or clowns, if anyone has been reading this long enough to remember that little incident) but the little girl’s expression removes all traces of humour.

I’m not sure if this is going to mark me out as a person who can’t take a joke, but when I was about her age I spent most weekends with three male cousins, all a few years older than me. Now, I’m very fond of these particular cousins, and relationships did improve when I got older. But at that point, they were just entering their teens (people that age can be cruel), I was the youngest, and therefore the whipping..er..girl. I know the look on that kid’s face from experience, and it isn’t a great thing to feel.

I’m not sure why Nike would want to associate football with the cruelty of adolescent boys. There have been some great ads that showed what football really means…mostly ads that showed the beauty of the sport itself, but also some about football fans. Such as that one with the kids playing football in the marketplace and familiar objects/people being given names from the world of football. (The irate vegetable seller being transformed into Sir Alex, that’s a masterpiece.) Then that rather brilliant mastercard ad with the red and yellow blobs to represent the teams and their fans. Football has this tremendous power to bond; I’ve been stunned by exquisitely worked goals, but it’s the power of a whole stadium singing the team song that really brings me to tears.

What’s very interesting is, with the abovementioned cousins, it was over football that we became friends. Kailash and I (and my dad, but he doesn’t really figure in this story) are Liverpool fans. Navin and Ashwin have always been Man U fans (look, this was in England, of course our choices of club would be Anglocentric). This didn’t cause a rift, it just gave us something to argue about, some common ground. I can be quite fierce while defending my team, but I argue with a feeling of a sort of kinship – this person may have their priorities skewed, but at least s/he’s a football fan, right? So we would poke fun at each other’s teams, and passionately defend our own, and every four years the world cup would come around and then it was England all the way.

And I have to wonder about the person who thought up that ad – did s/he never get thoroughly muddied playing the game at school (tackles that would be completely illegal in a real game, but okay here because we’re all friends?) or feel his (her?) heart swell to overflowing at a song or a team celebration on TV (ridiculous dances by flamboyant players and the removal of shirts, now made illegal.)? Who is this person, and what does s/he know about the game?