Now everyone just take a long deep breath and GET THOSE FINGERS OFF YOUR KEYBOAD I HAVEN’T EVEN STARTED YET (waving a wooden spoon imperiously).
First a ten-carat caveat: No, this picture does not say anything about who’s zoomin’ who, and no it is not our business anyhoo. Yes, the picture has inspired a barrage of homophobic bloggage and yes, homophobia is bad and no, such bigotry is not worthy of our attention, at least our attention and no, this picture has nothing to do with the hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, spinal-disk clenching end of la Liga. But this picture has gone viral, it has inspired its own Facebook page (now closed, I understand) and has made the first page of El País and Yahoo en español. Let us not feign ignorance in order to avoid the appearance of ignorance.
I, for one, find this picture fascinating, and in a prurient way … not in a Paglia-esque sexy way because frankly the image is not sexual. It’s not going up on any salacious sites and it’s not sending anyone of any persuasion or gender into paroxyms of passion, or at least anyone not predisposed to such paroyxisms. The image is shocking for its emotion, its intimacy, regardless of its reality. And I suspect that this emotional intimacy is driving the homophobes and homophiles and frees-to-bes-with-yous-and-mes into a bevy of blogging.
It is also non-rehearsed. I saw videoclips today on TVE’s ‘Telediario’ that show, as usual, players departing from the team bus to wherever it is that teams go pre-game. And I also noticed that the camera focussed, without comment (as if), on Pique, then Ibra, separated by some small, insignificant agent, surrounded by a throng of fascinated fans, walking calmly, smilingly, carefreely … that was rehearsed: ‘We’re cool! It’s all good! What Facebook page? Not that there’s anything wrong with that!’ We get it.
Statistically we know that there must be some gay soccer players out there somewhere, and politically we know that we ought to say that homosexuality in sport doesn’t really matter to the sport itself, and regrettably so, because we are all enlightened enough to celebrate gays among the Guy-est of Macho Guys. We might even declare that homoeroticism is inevitable. You know, lockerroom highjinks and all that. Bonds over the intensity of the unique experience. Buddies. Bromances. And in a team like Barça, with this exclusive, ‘més que un club’, philosophy-driven, super-glue bonded, mentor-paired team that pleases with its teases of intricate movements, quick little passes and psychic understandings (as opposed to big, manly, power runs and strong shots in the EE and EPL), well, there is a sort of mental-emotional bond fostered among the players by the system itself. Who doesn’t love a good blaugrana brodance? Xavi-Iniesta? Messi-Alves? Bojan-Henry? Ibra-Maxwell?
So what is Pique saying? We’re glad you’re here? We’re here for you? I’m here for you? I love you, man? Who carest.
Homoeroticism is part and parcel of the sport. It’s out there. Deliberately. Rehearsedly. Because sport is a business that sells itself and sex sells. And if you only have men to do the sellin’, and mostly men to do the buyin’, well, that leaves you with a limited set of options, i.e., which man is the hottiest?
Oh nooo, say you. The players are paid for how they play, not for with whom they may play. Oh yeah? Why isn’t Ribery at the EE right now? Hmm? Why does he seem, on the surface, a better ‘fit’ for Barça, in spite of ZouZou’s insistence? Because, in part, he looks the part: a) short; b) ugly; and c) funny haircut. Or perhaps you believe that this is an accident, a happenstance:
So maybe Fifi is not exactly singing ‘RedRoverRedRoverletRiberycome over’.
My little guy brought pictures of Xavis to preschool for Show-N-Tell ‘X’ day. Which photocopy, perchance, did the lovely Miss Preem prefer?
Who’s getting the international endorsements? Who’s in Vogue?
But he’s a playah! Paris! Kim! And that one is married! Oh yes, those are some sexy ladies. I venture that those relationships are as much a commercial venture as an emotional adventure. ‘Tis true, a Beckham caught on stateside like wildfire among the ladies. This one:
Well, the New York Times crows that Mexico is the United States’ favorite team. Sí, señor. With Becks biting some serious LA dust even as his superstar Spicewife struts the red carpet, who will lead the soccer charge? Who will finally bring football to America?
A final thought: Ought we really to be ‘shocked, shocked’ either by the Ibra-Pique pic or the hullabaloo that followed, given our own mixed media messages?
And, no, there’s not anything wrong with that!