Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

41. Not knowing a thing about soccer

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

I am sitting in the Kabul Hostel (which is a party-animal zoo, but that’s for another post)  bar in Barcelona right now, watching the Brazil-Côte d’Ivoire game and the place is packed with Brazilian backpackers, along with other travelers watching the game. Brazil scored to go up 1-0 about 15 minutes ago and people were having fits. I mean, once the ball hit the back of the net, these Brazilians were screaming, jumping up and down, waving flags and doing everything short of having a seizure. The frenetic display lasted four minutes*.

It’s clear I’m not a die-hard soccer fan because I’m sitting here on the Internet while this whale of a match is being played, just glancing over at the screen instead of giving it my full attention. I don’t even know what that says about me. I suppose I’m pretty self-absorbed. No wait, I’m chanelling my inner journalist; I like to stay informed about world events and my friends’ business on Facebook. Yeah, that’s what it means.

As a Canadian who doesn’t even watch much hockey — I’m more of a basketball guy — I know next to nothing about soccer. Sure, I played it as a kid, but so did everybody in North America who knows as little or less about soccer than I do. We call it “soccer” for chrissakes. It’s pretty obvious we know dick about soccer. That said, I hate when North Americans pretend they’re hardcore into soccer. Fine if you’re an immigrant kid or you played mad soccer your whole life. No, I’m talking about people who go traveling or live abroad and come home pretending they’re absolutely mad about international football. It’s a joke, like coming home and using UK slang with your buddies in Buffalo (see 19. Coming Home with a Lame Accent).

Christian Lander writes,

“Most white people choose a favorite soccer team based on either a study abroad experience or a particularly long vacation to Europe or South America. When they return, they like to tell their friends about how great ‘football’ is and that they are committed to ‘getting more into’ now that they have returned home.

“Some white people take this charade so far as to actually play in adult soccer leagues or attend a local professional match.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, upon going back to reference the above post, I found that Lander’s most recent post is about the World Cup. So to not inform the rest of this post as I’m writing it, I haven’t read his last one yet.

So what more can I say? Well, sitting here watching these people take in the game makes me wish I had an appreciation for the lack of scoring in soccer. I’ve often felt that watching soccer is like constipation. You’re rocking back and forth on your seat, trying to squeeze a long hard deuce out and it just refuses to come out, or in the case of the ball: it refuses to go in the fucking net. Go in the net. It’s your home, ball. Go to your home.

How can a game end 0-0? Riddle me that. That’s not a game. That’s a two-team aerobic workout. I don’t buy tickets to a sporting event to see nothing happen, with no clear winner determined. Unbelievable, these people.

I wish I had the appreciation internationals have for the “beautiful game”: its precision, its finesse, its teamwork, its short bursts of speed and athleticism… its flopping theatrics. As a fan of the NBA, and more specifically of the San Antonio Spurs, I’ve tried very hard to find joy in seeing players dive to the ground when somebody gently  brushes by them. I just don’t like it. That’s not sports to me.

Those are really the only two beefs I have with soccer. Not enough scoring and the diving is gay**. The rest is pretty sweet. I’m having fun witnessing this cultural international soccer experience in this here hostel. In fact, I’m gonna log off this wretched computer right now. What the hell am I doing? I’d better grab a beer and really immerse myself in this live phenomenon. I’m gonna damn well enjoy myself. But let’s get one thing clear: I’m not gonna come home and tell everybody I’m so into soccer. Like I said, I know nothing about it.

*Here’s a random social observation for you: Among the 50-odd Brazilians (aged 20-30) in this room, not a single one is a black Brazilian. All of European descent. What does that tell you about their poverty gap?

From Wikipedia.org: “Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa with, in 2008, 6.84% classifying themselves as preto (Black) and 43.80% as pardo (Brown)[7], for a total of 50.64%.”

**Two main features of San Antonio Spurs basketball, coincidentally.

26. The Light Skin Paradox

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

india06nw1When you visit a country of colored people colonized by Europeans (i.e. any country outside of Europe, North America and in most cases, Russia), you quickly realize that locals do not want to look like locals. They want to look like their former masters, their former invaders and slave masters: white people.

A recent Globe and Mail article about this desire among Indian men should be poignant to backpackers, who flock by the millions to developing-world countries.

In these dark-skinned countries, where people’s skin is dark because of a genetic adaptation to increased exposure to sunlight, backpackers (most often white) notice that the predominant image of beauty is a colonial one.

It’s a lot like Chris Rock’s recent movie, Good Hair, which explores the head-scratching (pun intended) phenomenon in which African American women prefer having white women’s hair: The grass is always greener. It’s human nature to want what you can’t have. Curly-haired people women want straight hair, and vice-versa. Big titted-women want smaller tits, and vice-versa. Fair-skinned people want to be tanned.

The post-colonial ideal of a light-skinned, European-looking halfbreed exists all over the world. Television ads, fashion mags and billboards  promote uncommon specimens of beauty, unrepresentative of the greater population. Consider models in Brazil, Bollywood stars in India or celebrities in West Africa, Mexico, Cuba, the Caribbean (Sosa, see below, is Dominican), Colombia or the Philippines. Whether these countries were colonized by Spain, Portugal, France, Britain, Holland — whomever, the mulatto or mestizo is on TV. 

The paradoxical desire for dark-skinned people to have fair skin, while white people fry themselves in tanning beds, is something that I — as a Filipino-Canadian — am all too familiar with. Like many Asian women, my mom carries an umbrella on sunny days, so not to get a tan and, God forbid, be mistaken for the poorer, more indigenous classes of Filipinos who slave away in the rice paddies and plantations all fucking day. My mom has a bottle of Eskinol in the medicine cabinet. Granted, I’ve never seen her use it, but she has it.

Skin lighteners and bleaches are commonly used by females in places like the Philippines and India, but the Globe and Mail’s Diana Coulter reports that a growing number of Indian men, both urban and rural, have recently adopted the practice “in the belief that a pale complexion brings sucess in life, love and business.”

This isn’t some either-Michael-Jackson-bleaches-his-skin-or-he’s-got-vitiligo type bullshit. This is real. (Nov. 12, 11:00 p.m: My ESP is kickin’ in again. As my buddy Rhett just informed me, Sammy Sosa is apparently the new King of Pop.)

My brother has lighter skin than I do. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for a local Canadian newspaper about my brother’s mercurial rise to stardom in Southeast Asia. He was first discovered as a model in the Philippines and eventually became a VJ on an international music station. When I asked one of his producers what about his audition convinced her that he would make a good VJ, she listed his bubbly personality, his genuine demeanor and his “pan Asian look.” As the music station’s lineup of VJs indicates, ”pan Asian” can be translated as “half Asian.”

So to be or look half Asian is to be better looking, right? Apparently not in South Korea. Two days ago, I came across a NY Times article about how Hines Ward was reaching out to fellow point-five Korean kids who’d been bullied or discriminated against by their full-blooded Korean counterparts. I guess the Tiger Woods look doesn’t fly over there. (My buddy Mike points out, though, Ward and Woods are half black and darker. Big difference.) Then you come to North America where biracial, dark-skinned models are sought after, sometimes to the point where being weird-looking or “exotic” is celebrated. Like I said, the whole light skin/dark skin thing is a perplexing phenomenon.

Nov. 28 - Here’s another NY Times article, about the integration of point-five children in South Korea.

Backpacking in the News

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Link to article: British backpackers plead guilty to insurance fraud in Brazil

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Two British backpackers, Shanti Andrews and Rebecca Turner, have pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in a Brazilian court after admitting they misled police about being robbed while on a round-the-world trip. (Source: Telegraph.co.uk)

As you can see, just another couple of Female Backpacker Type As doing their thang. Lookin’ pretty wubes, too.

I told you guys my ESP was kickin’ in.

Aug. 21 - Here’s a link to the follow-up article: British backpackers could spend months performing community service in Brazil

Aug. 25 - These bitches won’t quit: British backpackers in false robbery claim appeal conviction

Dec. 19 - In the end, just as it happened for O.J., shoddy police work gets them off: Jailed British backpackers acquitted of fraud conviction