Face Paint

I thought I heard a faint echo of Facepiant patriots: the phenomenon of nationalism in Gideon Haigh’s opening article for the Guardian:

Exhibition of the “passion” of the crowd is a familiar trope of televised cricket in Australia. Nobody ever attracted a camera’s attention by clapping politely; flag, facepaint and fervency are de rigueur. No Australian batsman hits a boundary without a choreographed exultation.

It is possible that just as international teams have become more verbally aggressive, believing this to be an important element of the success of the world’s best team, so have international crowds absorbed the perceived partisan belligerence of that team’s supporters, convinced it is a big part of their strength at home. If this is so, we may be seeing something like the phenomenon christened by the Reagan White House – that of “blowback”.

It is true, whatever the case, that modern spectators go to be seen as much as to see, and that television is increasingly dependent on their unabashed, unrestrained allegiance: where would Twenty20 be without its air of patriotic rally and non-stop street party?

For these spectators, a target for communal indignation is part of their idea of fun; the game is entertainment, the players heroes and villains, and the trophy mere bric-à-brac.

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