Imitating Life or Art: Were spectators' effective in affectively transforming the 'Zidane incident' into civic mythoi?
Sociology University of Western Sydney Sydney, Australia
Samuel Huntington notably suggested that post cold-war conflicts would originate from cultural and religious differences referred to as the "clash of civilizations". Operating as physical and psychological extensions of civilizations, mythoi are imbued with meaning reflecting societies' ethical systems while encapsulating ways of understanding cultural differences. Despite the pluralistic values intersecting modernity, mythoi continue to permeate contemporary society traversing fields of popular culture and sport. The' Zidane incident' occurring during the 2006 World Cup operated within archetypal paradigms of the tragic hero enabling spectators to affectively relate to, and reorient, civic values in their quest for meaning. Accordingly, this paper explores mythoi in light of spectators' affective reactions to 'the incident', illuminating how these emotions reflect racial segregation in France while conversely examining whether affective projections enabled spectators to transcend these divisions. Zidane's allegiance to Kabyle, Algerian and French narratives allowed spectators to affectively transform their emotional reactions into mythoi reconciling France's present tensions, past conflicts and future hopes. The Zidane myth, however, deviates from mythic forms as he failed to recognise his hamartia (error of judgment). Mimetically reflecting his internal state, aesthetic mediums, media commentators, spectators and political figures responded to Zidane's final gesture by emphasising the grandeur of his heroic act solidified by national honours and "unconditional love" towards "France's most popular person." Thus, we must ask what audiences affectively recognised from the Zidane myth" If there is no recognised error, no regret towards the actions leading to his tragic decline, can we represent the Zidane myth as an effective affective experience? While some suggest Zidane's final act and aesthetic representations of it ultimately offer little insight, spectators' affective reactions to this incident reveal social significance extending beyond permitting what appear to be violent acts of masculine pride.