Technology, Culture, and the World Cup

Vigo begins her article by quoting Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan infamous words about how the medium is the message. In short, Vigo says, “how we see ourselves as a culture is a reflection of the technology which we use to represent ourselves”. In this way “medium” means the way messages are disseminated.

Vigo uses an example of the 1968 World Cup(Argentina vs England) to illustrate how much impact different mediums have on the way we think about things. In the 1986 World Cup, Maradona scored a goal, which was controversial because the goal was actually scored with his hand and the referee failed to catch it. This became known as the “hand of God”. Maradona knew this was the case but as Vigo states,  “he understood the importance of how culture could supersede technology to create the truth”, and  even though there were numerous photos of his hand touching the wall he was able to leverage “social theatre” as a medium and have his team mates hug him after the goal, inevitably causing the masses to want to see the ball as a header despite actual photos of the hand ball.

The hand of God came to be seen as a representation of not just a hand ball but a “response to the unjust British invasions of Argentina in the past. No technology could now undo what Maradona had crafted from essentially a lie.

At the end of the article Vigo talks about the systematic society we are moving towards and asks the question, “what if the flaws are what drive our culture and individual emotions?”, which I found the very thoughtful provoking and true.

2 thoughts on “Technology, Culture, and the World Cup

  1. Mclain,
    It is definitely interesting how people choose to believe information based on the medium through which they have perceived it. This leads me to wonder how we assign relevancy and weight to different forms of media– are we more prone to be impacted by a newspaper, for example, or a facebook article? How does this explain people’s unwillingness to trust/ care about the photo of Maradona’s hand, once they believed that the goal represented the British invasions of Argentina?

  2. Mclain,
    The 1968 World Cup match as an example of how technology has impacted culture sure is an apt observation. When you wrote Vigo stated “he understood the importance of how culture could supersede technology to create the truth”, an assortment of possibilites came to mind, because this is the age we live in today. Technology dictates much of the modern world and the intersection of it with culture is fun to observe. I talked about it a bit in class, but the social theatre concept is so true in the modern era of sports. Whether you have Lebron James, Odell Beckham, or Trevor Lawrence exaggerating the role as the victim of a penalty in order to conjure up a reaction by the referees, it is a guarantee that some side of the stadium is going to agree with the theatrics or disagree with the reality. Modern NBA, NFL, and NCAA games have the most advanced replay technology, so controversial plays are often reviewed immediately. Even then, referees still get it wrong, in reality they can never make an objectively satisfactory call about a controversial play, because one side or fanbase will be outraged even if the facts presented by the technology contradicts their perception. Perceptions create reality, so as long as people can convince enough people that their perception of a situation is real, they win.

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