by Andy Ruddock
Everyone knows that the World Cup is a media event, before it is anything else. And, as Australian scholars have explained, we also know that digital media have transformed how sport is played and consumed. So it’s no surprise that 2014’s first tournament star has appeared on Twitter: @boringmilner.
@boringmilner is the alter-ego of England midfielder James Milner. In real life, Milner is a gifted, versatile player who has crafted a solid career for club and country. He’s an unassuming northern lad who has managed to hold down a place in Manchester City’s dream-team squad, all while looking like any bloke standing next to you in any chain vodka bar in any English city on any Saturday night.
@boringmilner mines this quotidian streak for all that it’s worth. Obsessed with tea and housework – “Great victory tonight. Hopefully, If I don’t get home too late I’m going to pull the fridge out and give the back of it a damn good clean” – the feed relentlessly parodies microblogging. Every banal observation is preserved as … an utterly banal observation. On arriving at training camp:
When I stepped off the plane in Miami I thought it was really warm and I was right because when I checked the temperature it was 27°c.
Hilarious dressing room repartee:
I told Baines I liked his boots. He said Thanks. I said Did you buy them in a sports shop? He nodded. I said I got mine in a sports shop too.
Insider injury insights:
I asked Aguero if he injured his groin. He said Yes. I said I thought it was your groin you injured because I saw you holding your groin.
James Milner is not @boringmilner, but he thoroughly approves of the joke. Maybe it’s because @boringmilner does tell us a truth: the life of the football star is mostly about waiting for things to happen. And being forced to speak when there’s nothing to say. Hence volumes of inane banter.
As Simon Kuper pointed out some time ago, it’s unreasonable to expect elite footballers to furnish elegant explanations of what they do. They’re usually knackered, it’s incredibly difficult to verbalise physical intelligence, and they’re forced to speak by media outlets trying to stir up public anticipation for the next match.
But, just sometimes, there’s a sly wit behind the clichés.
During the 1998 World Cup, star striker Alan Shearer exploited his reputation as the most boring man in football to orchestrate an elaborate practical joke on English journalists. He and his teammates conspired to sneak song lines into as many interviews as they could. Star of the show was centre-half Gareth Southgate, who smuggled not one but two Wham! titles into a piece to camera:
It’s not club Tropicana, but there won’t be any Careless Whispers coming from this dressing room.
All of this distracts our attention from the media trick of getting us to enjoy predictable tournaments where there’s more talk than action. We already know what will happen in World Cup 2014. There’ll be an upset in the group stage. Someone will cheat outrageously. The most entertaining team will be kicked off the pitch; Brazil or Argentina will lift the trophy; and we’ll all be watching until July 13 anyway.
If only to find out what @boringmilner makes of the Copacabana beach.
Dr Andy Ruddock is a senior lecturer for the School of Media, Film and Journalism in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University.
This article has appeared on The Conversation.
Find out more:
Monash supports marriage equality
Monash has joined over 690 organisations and numerous Australian individuals showing their support through Australian Marriage Equality.
Consuming Anzac: some thoughts on the Anzac centenary
If prizes were given out for the enthusiasm with which nations commemorate the centenary of the Great War, Australia would be first by a long shot. Dr Carolyn Holbrook looks at ‘Brandzac’.
From hostility to lasting friendship: cultural reflections from Turkish and Anzac soldiers
For the first time in Australia, stories of Turkish soldiers will be told alongside those of Anzac soldiers in a bilingual exhibition at Monash Univeristy about the Gallipoli experience. The exhibition has been curated by Dr Azer Banu Kemaloğlu, of Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University.
On remembering and forgetting war
Join us this Remembrance Day for the launch of – World War One: A History in 100 Stories – a path-breaking social history written by Monash historians Professor Bruce Scates, Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James.
Monash project on Women, Peace & Security makes its way to United Nations Security Council
Australian ambassador, H. E. Gillian Bird, made in her statement to the United Nations Security Council yesterday during the annual debate on Women Peace and Security.
From pages to the silver screen: Death or Liberty documentary launched in October
A feature length documentary film adaptation of Dr Tony Moore’s book Death or Liberty, detailing the lives of rebels and radicals transported to Australia as political prisoners, will have its world premier in Victoria this month, ahead of screenings around Australia and Britain.
Godzilla, Wine and Video Games: Getting to know Monash researcher Jason Christopher Jones
Want to know how the Japanese language, wine, Godzilla and video games all tie in to being a researcher at Monash? Lecturer in Japanese studies, Jason Jones, tells us about his passion for ‘all things Japanese’, and about his research around the themes of cultural exchange and adaptation.
Telling the larger story about terrorism: a conversation with PhD candidate Noor Huda Ismail
PhD candidate Noor Huda Ismail is an author, filmmaker, activist, and self-described “repentant journalist”, and has a desire to tell a larger story about terrorism, foreign fighters and why people join violent organisations.
Mentoring matters: Global mentors for Monash University students
The value of a mentor both personally and professionally – to provide guidance, support and advice – is almost universal.
In the aid and development sector…
Welcome to Nowhere: Monash at the Fringe Festival
The Melbourne Fringe festival is providing plenty of opportunities for Monash to showcase its theatre outputs this year.
Indian dignitaries visit the Faculty of Arts
On 26 August, the Faculty of Arts had the honour of welcoming a His Excellency, Navdeep Suri, the High Commissioner of India in Australia…
More Monash student travel in New Colombo plan
Monash Arts has once again been very successful in securing funding for our students under the … Continue reading More Monash student travel in New Colombo plan