Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Ashamed to play

Okay, so I turned on my computer, pulled up Google to search for something, but instead I saw Support a world where every athlete can be #ProudToPlay” just underneath the search bar, and clicked it in anticipation of something awful. But it’s even worse than I thought—it’s a covert ad for the World Cup at a time of unprecedented protests that threaten to derail the games. Protesters in Brazil are calling attention to the mass displacement and structural inequality caused by the construction of an unnecessary $500 million new stadium, facing repressive police state tactics in response. The “ProudtoPlay” video paints an entirely different picture, starting images of Brazilian beaches and cheering soccer fans, and a voiceover by Nelson Mandela, back from the dead to tell us that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” And then we are treated to gay athletes from around the world, mostly people of color, telling us how proud they are. “This is the biggest moment in sports. It’s our time to make a difference and show the world that every athlete can be proud,” says a white guy towards the end, and then we see Nelson Mandela again, telling us that “Sport can create hope where once there was only despair,” and then a rainbow soccer ball next to the YouTube logo. The official YouTube blog for the video tells us that “In celebration of the upcoming World Cup in Brazil and LGBT Pride month, we’re honoring the LGBT athletes, their supporters, as well as the YouTube Creators who stand up for diversity in sports and elsewhere—all of whom help create an equal and inclusive playing field for everyone.” Apparently an equal and inclusive playing field means spending $500 million on a new stadium in an impoverished neighborhood instead of putting that money towards schools, healthcare, housing, food, and other basic necessities Gay athletes and everyone else should be ashamed to play at any sporting event that causes massive displacement and serves as a showcase for corporate greed and real estate profiteering. Yet again, an allegedly pro-gay agenda is deployed as a covert advertising gimmick for multinational corporate whitewashing. When will this end?

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