Thursday, March 16, 2006

10 German bombers

Returning briefly to football chants, there's a piece in today's Guardian by Nicky Campbell (of Radio 5 Live and Just the Two of Us fame) which looks at matters of nationalism, xenophobia and sensitivity in the run-up to this summer's World Cup in Germany (is it only Ghana and England supporters who are getting excited about this, or are Nigeria fans just keeping a dignified silence?).

Campbell (who I once bumped into in Marks and Spencers on Balham Hill, celebrity spotters!) actually does something which we're not supposed to do this summer: he mentions THE WAR. Now, it's not big or clever to link German people or the history of the whole country with just one (or maybe two) horrific conflicts, but where should we draw the line when looking for subject matter for football chants?

As Campbell points out, there's a world of difference between singing the Dambusters theme and chanting "I'd rather be a P*ki than a Turk", but what's acceptable and what's not? It brings up interesting debates about political correctness, the power that language has to offend and incite, and more complex questions about how we define who we are.

And just to lower the tone further, the most hits this blog has ever had was when I posted the story about anti-Sol Campbell chants from Tottenham supporters. According to the hit counter, the main searches that landed people on these pages contained the words "Sol" "gay" and "Campbell"! So maybe Ashley Cole was onto something after all when his solicitors got on the case with Google for linking his name to gay sex scandals involving premiership footballers.

But of course by putting those words in that order I've just guaranteed 1000 extra hits from salacious websearchers and a legal writ from Ashley Cole (who - celeb spotters - used to live on the estate just over the road from my house!). Oh well...

Useful for:
ENA1 - Language & Representation

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