Monday, June 14, 2010

Jumpers for goalposts? Not quite, but....

We were watching one of these endless 'Best World Cup Moments' spacefillers last night and I became really nostalgic.

Twenty four hours earlier, notwithstanding the complete fuck up of ITV's HD coverage (they lost the goal!!!!), at the start of the England game I'd been marvelling at the pin-perfect picture and sound being broadcast live from the other side of the planet.

And then I decided I didn't like it.  Not just because of the bleedin' vuvuzelas, but because in adding something (digital quality), broadcasters and the technology they use have taken away something far more emotionally powerful.

The clips from past tournaments on the programme last night showed us what we now miss.  Back in the seventies, eighties and early nineties, when the World Cup came from a different continent, you knew about it.  The picture was grainy and slightly bleached, and the commentary sounded like it was coming to you down a phone line, sibilant and shushy and tinny and flat.

And I'm not just being nostalgic here - even at the time, I adored it for that.  It underlined that this was coming to you from thousands of miles away, that Our Lads were out there, on a world stage.  It reminded you how big the world is, and how important that stage.  You were keenly aware that you only got this kind of coverage every four years.  It created a Pavlovian anticipation that you were about to see something special.

If I see a miraculous goal from Brazil in any higher quality broadcast, counter-intuitively it feels less real.  If a World Cup final 12,000 miles away has the same immediacy and presence as a third round FA Cup tie on a January Sunday, how can it not feel more ordinary than it did when the compromises we had to endure underlined the enormity of the planet, and the significance of its coming together to play football?

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry about, soon you will be able to get a software plug-in for your TV that will render any broadcast in 50s Technicolor, 405-line black and white, VHF reception snowstorm, worn-out VHS video tape or any other effect you can think of.