do not mention the war

An Unmoral Offer

In Anglo-German Relations on June 24, 2016 at 08:00

Germany’s biggest selling tabloid BILD came up with a superb front page this week about Brexit. The main article is a series of admissions to Britain to convince them to stay in the EU. Should Bremain win, the Germans are said to

– accept that the third goal in the 1966 World Cup final was actually a goal
– they won’t make jokes about Prince Charles’ ears
– won’t use sun cream at the beach out of sheer sympathy
– won’t use a goalkeeper in the next penalty shoot out to make it more even
– they’ll introduce tea time in Mallorca
– they’ll supply the baddie for James Bond movies, voluntarily
– they’ll set the clock back an hour to Greenwich time
– they’ll outlaw froth on top of beer
– they’ll reserve the sun beds at the hotels pools for the British with their own towels
– Jogi Löw will guard the Crown Jewels
– they’ll all visit Britain for the Queen’s 100th birthday

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This is quite an offer from the Germans and the British would be foolish not to accept it. It is not without historical precedence, though. Twenty years ago, the Daily Mirror and Bild engaged in a similar discourse during Euro 1996 in England. It all began with a list of 11 questions posed by Bild to the English:

Why do you drive on the wrong side of the road?
Why can’t you pull a decent pint of beer?
Why, as the birth place of modern football, were you never European champions?
Why do you wear bathing trunks in the sauna?
Why do your electric locomitves still carry a fireman?
Why do you eat your pork chops with peppermint sauce?
Why can’t you beat your former colonies at Cricket?
Why do look like freshly-boled lobsters after a sunny day?
Who won the 1990 World Cup semi-final, anyway?
When did an Englishman last win Wimbledon?
Why are you the only people who still think the Wembley goal went in?

It was an attempt to connect humour with steretypes but ended up not being funy at all. The answer by the Daily Mirror was insightful:

‘We drive on the wrong side of the road to make it more difficult for our soldiers to invade other countries. We were never European champions because we are an outward-looking nation that doesn’t think Europe is the centre of the universe; we were quite happy with the World Cup. We are sorry that you do not understand that proper beer is served warm: why don’t you wear proper trouasers? We wear bathing trunks in the sauna, because we’re not a boastful people … At least our former colonies still want to play our national sport with us. Do any of your ex-colonies want to play yours with you? Come to think of it, what is your national sport? We won the 1990 semi-final in spirit. You just scored more penalties, that’s all … As for THAT GOAL, we simply abided by the referee’s decision.’

This can be best described as ‘blokey nationalism’ or ‘the jokey jingoism of the press.’ Thankfully, 20 years later not a lot has changed: football is still seen as a vehicle to portray nationalism of the worst kind as we have in recent days in France. Nonetheless, Bild have come up with a witty reminder of the Anglo-German football rivalry in particular and the Anglo-German relations in general. A lot what this paper contains is utter garbage and not worth reading but they have always been pro-Europe; in fact journalists had to accept a code of conduct before being allowed to work there. One was a pro-Europe paragraph another was German unity and finally the fight against Communism. The last point earned Springer, the publishing house behind Bild, the label ‘idelogical arsonist’ during the 1960s.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, Bild made it clear that the EU with Britain is simply funnier.

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