The Daily Mail website has knocked a business model out of it.
Time-wasting on Twitter during the week. ‘Britney Spears Without Autotune — This Will Make Your Ears Bleed.’ What could you do but click it? Dreadful stuff, alright. Not a note in her head.
You’re suspicious though. Why this shocking expose? You Google. The Mirror has it. The Telegraph. The Huff Post. A dozen more. What was it they say about publicity? Soon Billboard tells us Britney is surging up the ‘Trending 140’, which presumably is what Larry Gogan has to call it nowadays.
You just can’t trust shame anymore.
Except in sport. Alright, even here you can never be 100% confident. With Luis Suarez, for example, every fresh ignominy tends to prologue a lucrative transfer. So we must always keep our wits about us.
But you could examine the proceedings in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday from many angles and still find no good PR in it for David Luiz and the lads. This was as real as it gets. It was the evening that catapulted a flagging World Cup back into contention in the annals.
It broke Twitter records. It drew gasps. It saw friends and partners and annoying neighbours without televisions elbowed out of their half-sleep on the couch to look, just look, at what was happening.
A two-way street. The worst of times was the best of times. We are also compelled by the master-classes.
This was a six-minute streak of perfection, when a generation of German planning found expression in total hypnotic flow. And four goals.
It was 9.69 seconds of Bolt in Beijing; 91 seconds of Tyson battering Spinks in Atlantic City; four hours of Woods scorching Augusta.
Or at least it could be. Messi’s conflicting narrative notwithstanding, we need the Germans to finish the job now, whatever it takes, to hammer a signpost on this little miracle. To apply the seal.
Otherwise, this will stand only as a preposterous humiliation. Since we don’t know yet if the Germans will do it, that is how it must stand for now.
So the search for answers has been grandiose and wide-ranging. To get maximum enjoyment from this humiliation, we must read as much as possible into it. What exactly happened to Brazil? Was it the overbearing grief for their stricken brother that paralysed them? Did their backbone crack with Neymar’s? Did they buckle under the pressure of placating a fractured, furious nation? Did their near-demented levels of passion melt into a blunt, helpless rage? Was it an over-reliance on their God, who left them forsaken and confused? Or did a nation’s betrayal of its glorious heritage wreck fatal cracks in its foundations that caused it to implode when the world’s glare was greatest? Or was it just that David Luiz switched off again at a set-piece? And Fred never switched on at all?
Maybe it was a bit of everything. High-pressure situations can impair the working memory, the psychologists tell us. A choke. Certainly, when Toni Kroos was bearing down on him for goal number four; Fernandinho had forgotten, for the time being, everything he knew about being a top-level midfielder.
“We got caught up maybe in the occasion, taking on too many bits of sideshows.” Big Phil? No, Small Davy, after the 2008 trauma in Croke Park. For Waterford waving to the crowd in the parade, take Luiz holding up his Neymar shirt, or Thiago Silva loitering in his baseball cap, counselling them, annoying them, distracting them.
“I wish I could have found that play that would have taken us out of that spiral.” Phil, this time? No, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, after the blowout in this year’s Super Bowl. Managerial paralysis? Maybe. We have had a few high-profile blowouts lately, in football. Spain, this tournament. Barcelona shipping seven against Munich last year. Arsenal too many times to count. Madrid treated many of the German players to their own humiliation in April.
Could it be, in an era of forensic tactical planning, that footballers are becoming more likely to unravel when the script is torn up? But then it was hardly too much forensic tactical planning that undid Arsenal.
Maybe we should stop reading too much into it, and listen to Pirlo, trying to make sense of his own blowout in that famous second half in Istanbul.
“There are always lessons to be found in the darkest moments. It’s a moral obligation to dig deep and find that little glimmer of hope or pearl of wisdom. You might hit upon an elegant phrase that stays with you and makes the journey that little bit less bitter. I’ve tried with Istanbul and haven’t managed to get beyond these words: for fucks sake.”
One of those things. Embrace the shame. Without too much fundamental reinvention, Milan were back two years later, for a kind of redemption. Brazil will trend again too.
But it is the Germans who can give Belo Horizonte lasting significance.
Everything seemed more clear cut during the innocence of the groups when even the Aussies showed up to play and our new prince James reigned supreme. But it is time now to make a call. Has it been a good World Cup? Is it the best World Cup?
It’s tempting to include 1978, to make this a top 10, but all I remember is the ticker tape, the telly packing up during the final, and a row over a lack of bedtime flexibility during the early rounds. In the end, the old rules probably apply; your best World Cup is usually your first or second.
1: 1986: Diego’s destiny but beguiled by the Soviets and Danes.
2: 1982: Crying for Brazil. Hiding under the covers from Schumacher.
3: 1998: The Marseillaise. Also the year it didn’t fall flat after the groups.
4: 2014: If Argentina win on pens after a 0-0, it slips to fifth.
5: 1994: Rich promise from the east with Romania and Bulgaria.
6: 2006: The year of the defender. No wonder Zidane blew his top.
7: 2002: The one the referees took over.
8: 2010: Great champs but much of it passed in a vuvuzela drone.
9: 1990: Notwithstanding our role, a shambles.
Once, according to Eamo, the guy who ‘won a competition in Tesco to play in the Champions League’, there are still moments when he fresh-airs and stumbles and you’d almost ask him to show his ticket. But he is the rightful player of the tournament.
There were hints of Germanic efficiency in the way Kerry went about their business too. All clean lines and clever angles and economical runs.
Who knows how low the rise of the selfie will eventually take us? The clowns standing with their backs to the cyclists on the Tour de France climbs are certainly registering a new watermark. There are a few of them trying it at the Pamplona Bull Run too, with mixed results. But then eejitry is taken for granted at that event.