Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pope Video 8: Finally a Black Man Who Isn't Holding a Spear

I'm glad they finally let him on the team.

The new Pope Video is out and it begins with a black man kicking a soccer ball at the camera.

I have written previously about the curious absence of black people in the first seven Pope Videos, made all the more jarring by the rainbow of other races and by the nature of the few exceptions - two African kids on a rusty bed in what looks like a shack and a child's drawing of a "typical" African family with Dad wearing a grass skirt and carrying a spear.

It's an Argentine thing, I think.

From Pope Video 4
In any case, it might be claimed that the new video is basically unobjectionable. Who wouldn't be in favor of sport as something that, among, other things brings, people together for peaceful competition. That was after all one of the primary goals of the ancient and modern Olympics. And it is of course a laudable one.

In the new video, there's a black male soccer player, a white female tennis player, an asian male ping pong player (stereotype alert), a scary white male rugby player (obviously meant to placate Vikings) and a female Indian volleyball player. The mercifully short narration by the Pope emphasizes the value of sport in fomenting a culture of encounter and helping the cause of world peace: 
Sports make it possible to build a culture of encounter among everyone for a world of peace. I dream of sports as the practice of human dignity, turned into a vehicle of fraternity. Do we exercise together this prayer intention? That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between people and may contribute to peace in the world.
For Pope skeptics such as myself there are of course the usual annoyances - the failure to mention any Christian or Catholic things - Christ, God the Church, etc. - the use of the Pope's favorite buzzwords - culture of encounter - which for skeptics like me may contain quasi-sinister connotations and so on.

There's also the unbelievably narcissistic implied claim that after, say, 120 years of modern international Olympic competition, finally someone (Pope Francis) has come along who really understands that sports may help people from different countries come together in mutual brotherhood, and that finally someone (Pope Francis) has enunciated a plan to further effectuate that.

If you think I'm being unfair about this, consider his words. If sports as a "vehicle of fraternity" had been already happening, why would the Pope say he only has a "dream" of it?

The weirdest thing about the video is the reoccurring image of a wall being breached - not being broken down exactly, but literally being penetrated in rapid succession by a soccer ball, tennis ball, rugby ball  (the ping pong ball was too small, I guess) and volleyball.

When I saw the soccer ball hit the wall for the first time to a kind of downer note in the music - brong! - I actually thought the video was turning into "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" message - the poor guy meant to kick the ball into the net but hit some wall on the sidelines instead, and he even chipped off a bit of the plaster on it. How embarrassing.

Of course it's a metaphor for breaking down walls - the same ones presumably that Donald Trump, international finance capital, weapons manufacturers, Cardinal Burke and all the other neo-pelagians are busy erecting, patching up, extending, reinforcing, etc.

But the balls hit the wall with a force that Serena Williams could only dream about. They look like they've been shot out of howitzers - as all the while the Pope mentions and re-mentions the word "peace." I suppose the effect could have been intentional. Tennis balls as rocket grenades.



  1. This reminds me of something 'Big Brother' would cook up to destroy remaining resistance to his totalitarian program. Pope Francis even looks like 'Big Brother'. But it all done in such a benign way reflecting, perhaps, a certain religious sentiment.

  2. You forgot to mention that all the women are dressed immodestly. The popes have previously specifically warned about the use of sports to breach what is (or was then) considered to be modest and respectable dress for women.

  3. Sorry, Hound, but you've got it all wrong. This is not a regular Pope Video. It's a Nike commercial featuring the sports company's latest spokesman. Bear scooped you this time, my friend.

  4. That headline nearly killed me....I'm still choking from laughing.

  5. Hilarious title!!

    Seattle Kim