There’s something called Paris Syndrome, which is like Stockholm Syndrome except with less cross-country skiing and more museums. That’s actually a lie. The happy truth is that Stockholm Syndrome, where a group of hostages will come to agree with and support their captors, is in many ways the polar opposite of its Gallic counterpart.
The Japanese embassy has a dedicated helpline for any of its citizens suffering from Paris Syndrome, and every year it affects a few tourists to the point where they need to be repatriated under medical supervision. I swear I’m not making this up.
It does raise interesting questions about how people view the world outside their own borders: how realistic those views are; how those views are mediated by various groups with their own vested interests; how the seemingly inevitable disconnect between image and reality is comprehended and accounted for by various societies and individuals. I have to say that I’ve got a good deal of sympathy with the Japanese francophone diplomatic corps in have to wrestle with these issues on a regular basis, especially as it threatens to distract from their primary job of complaining about tasteless jokes told by private individuals.
Seriously, offering official protest regarding the humour of non-governmental media organizations would appear to be the main task of Japanese diplomats. They were displeased about a football commentator’s, er, comments a while back, and now they’re unhappy about some cartoons. The Parisian embassy seems to bear the brunt of this, but in recent times their colleagues around the world have also seen fit to complain about American magazine covers and British light-entertainment TV shows. And to be fair, while you may question the validity of these complaints or the value of making them through official channels in the first place, they are generally expressed in a manner befitting the complainant. At this point, by way of comparison, I’ll draw your attention to Israel’s now former Head of Online Diplomacy, who managed to invert that validity/expression paradigm and in doing so display an alarming lack of understanding of the final word in his job title.
Read up on that little contretemps? Good, because now I’m going to talk about Robbie Savage.
Robbie Savage, for those of you who are happily unaware, is a former professional footballer in the UK. During his playing days he was perhaps one of the most reviled men in the sport, because he was a cheat (also: his hair).
There are essentially two types of cheating in sport – the sneaky and the blatant. The sneaky, at least in football, involves trying to con the ref – diving, simulation, call it what you will. This is generally the preserve of the less physically intimidating athletes and is seen, despite copious evidence to the contrary, as something of a foreign affliction. With the increasing internationalization of the English leagues it’s become more tolerated by fans, and many see it as an almost legitimate way for more technically skillful players to protect themselves from the other sort of cheaters.
Because the blatant cheaters are your enforcers, your midfield hard-men (it’s a relative term), the type who like to get their retaliation in first even if it leads to an early bath and the inescapable conclusion that they really are ‘that type of player.’ It’s largely on the wane now, but despite all the compulsory hand-wringing about tarnishing the image of the game there’s still fewer more amusing sights than seeing a truly late tackle.
Cheaters of both types generally find their niches and some form of acceptance, however grudging, by fans and commentators alike. Robbie Savage’s failing was that he wasn’t one type of cheat, he was both (also: his hair). One minute he’d tackle someone so late their unborn grandchildren would feel his studs, then the very next he’d be flopping on the floor even though his nearest opponent was somewhere in the next county. If he’d just been a diver that would have been fine, if he’d just been a thug that too would have been tolerated; it was the shamelessness with which he tried to have his cake and eat it which really rubbed people up the wrong way (also: his hair).
Can’t imagine what made me think of him…