Sunday, December 3, 2006

Football Extra

Back in 1979, Andy Warhol -- the pop artist who's perhaps most famous for his (multiple) Campbell Soup can, Marilyn Monroe and Mao paintings -- made the suggestion that "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes". In doing so, he was referring mainly to the fleeting condition of celebrity. However, his statement also has been interpreted as pointing out the power of the media to make anyone famous, even if only for a short and limited span of time.

Earlier today, I had my own -- but more like 3 rather than 15 minutes... ;S -- taste both of fleeting celebrity and the power of the media by way of Football Extra, an association football ("soccer" in American-speak) magazine show on Star Sports, a satellite TV channel which gets beamed "live" out of Singapore to Malaysia, Brunei, India and many other Asian territories on Sunday mornings.

As part of its "viewer participation" segment, the hosts of Football Extra throw out an "Extra Trivia" question each week that's designed to test the knowledge of its football crazy audience members. The day after my favorite footie team, Arsenal, beat their North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, by 3 goals to nil, the question asked was "Who is the only player in the last seven years to have scored in the North London, Merseyside and Manchester derbies?"

Not only did I get the answer right (for those who can't recognize him from the photo at the top of this blog entry, it's Nicolas Anelka -- now of Bolton Wanderers but formerly of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City together with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Fenerbahce) but, a few minutes after e-mailing my answer to Football Extra, I found out that I had been chosen to announce the answer on the show via a "live" telephone conversation with the show's hosts.

Shortly after the programme's conclusion, I received a congratulatory phone call from an uncle in Singapore. During the recorded repeat of it that aired this afternoon, I received another phone call about my "appearance" and mention on it -- this time from an aunt in Kuala Lumpur.

All this got me wondering how many people I know watch Football Extra (this not least since I hadn't counted on this particular aunt being a viewer of the programme!), and how many people's first -- and only -- knowledge of my very existence came from watching this particular episode of the show. Thinking further, I also find myself wondering how many people who think they know me actually know that I'm a football fan and capable of answering this kind of football trivia questions.

Something that's always struck me as curious and interesting is how segmented many of our lives are. Perhaps this is more so for my life than most others by virtue of my having lived in so many different places; and ones, at that, which, more often than not, literally are continents apart. This fact not withstanding though, it's also the case than at any one time, we can move in more than one social as well as professional circle.

Consequently, in my case, some people knowing me primarily as an anthropologist, others as a Hong Kong movie nut, still others as a Gooner (which, as I had to explain to a non-Gooner friend who knows me primarily as an Asian cinema fan earlier this week, is a supporter of Arsenal football club and team, A.K.A. "the Gunners"), yet others as a beer geek, still others as a heritage maven and "expert", etc. And more often than not, albeit not necessarily of my own choosing, never the twain shall meet.

This can seem like a sad situation because it means that many people are only seeing part of rather than all of -- and thus, the "real" -- "me". Alternatively, it can seem really cool in that I can and get to "connect" with different -- and many more -- people on a variety of subjects as well as levels. Also, like I joked to a friend shortly before I left Philadelphia back in July 2003, it means that whenever I take my leave of a place, I tend to get more than one farewell party thrown in my honor by virtue of my being a member of more than one social group!

Returning to the subject of football and me: A week or so ago, a friend who is a fellow movie geek but not a fellow footie fan was moved to ask me whether my love for football is as strong as for the movies. It's hard to answer that question since it's like comparing apples to watermelons for me. However, like I told him, I actually do believe that my level of footie knowledge is at the level of my movie knowledge.

And should anyone wonder: My footie version of Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia (i.e., god[dess]) is a Frenchman named Arsene Wenger; my movie version of Arsenal football club is Hong Kong cinema; and my choice of beer equivalent of Peking Opera Blues and the Arsenal-Everton match which saw Arsenal clinch the English Premier League championship portion of their first "Double" under Arsene Wenger has to be the North Coast Brewing Company's Old Rasputin Imperial Stout... :b

No comments: