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"A massa laranja"

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Foto: Maarten Zeehandelaar

It happened in the nineteen seventies, when the Dutch soccer team ended up in the finals of the World Cup, not once but twice. They didn’t win either, but their performances earned them the nickname la naranja mecánica. This literally means ‘the mechanical orange’ but in Spanish the phrase is also the translation of that famous book by Anthony Burgess: ‘A Clockwork Orange’.
   Yes, the Dutch soccer team (and by now most Dutch athletes, when they excel), earned its nickname in that most life embracing Latin American fashion: shirt colour and soccer excellence washed away all dystopian connotations of that violent and disrupting novel. And thus “we” unintentionally got seriously jinxed.
   See how various teams in different decades ended up in finals and semi-finals but never really won (except once, in 1988). See how they often turn sour in their sportsmanship. Ashamed by losing, but not by showing the ugly face of the poor loser to the world. Alas, who can really blame them? All over the globe they are named for extremely violent bullies and rapists who turn out to be unredeemable. That’s a heavy burden to bear, even if only subconsciously.
   However, Burgess never intended his novel to end so bleak and unforthcoming. Actually, the American edition that made the story famous (the book and especially the movie almost everyone knows) misses the final chapter of the original. In that 21st chapter the main character does mend his ways, grows up, and out of violence and cruelty. This message of hope and redemption has been cut in the US, because it was perceived as being too boring to be believable for the reading public (which is hysterical, given the relentless violence in that country; but let’s not digress).
   Boring or not, the existence of chapter 21 shows there’s hope for Dutch sports yet! Forget about that menacing clockwork orange effect people! Look at yourselves and believe. Like these two selfie-ists do, so light-heartedly in sync with their time. Defy the view of the outsider, the photographer, the reporter, the columnist, the anchor-man, the nickname-bestower! Take matters into you own hands – we live in the age of the selfie and it is a brave new world.


Texto por: Peter-Jan Vermeij


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Copyright © 2010-2017 Maarten Zeehandelaar.