Greatest World Cup Commercials

> hsu_worldcup.jpg

Nike


The Mirror is counting down the 50 best and worst World Cup commercials of 2010. I will be shocked if "Write the Future" is not number one, just as I am shocked that there are any World Cup commercials judged worse than the universalist Bono-narrated ESPN clip about everything the World Cup is supposedly "not"—globalization, national borders, love/hate, etc.

It would be nice if these globe-wide spectacles like the Olympics and World Cup were just about moments of we-are-one convergence. (It would be nice, too, if we didn't need sports to even imagine that.) But national character matters during the World Cup, and not just because of the geopolitical tensions certain matches might come to approximate (Match of Death, anyone?).

It's all about style—one nation's preference for marauding fullbacks, another's unbreakable passing triangles. The possibility of reclaiming some morsel of imperial glory. A national identity redefining itself in the wake of war and migration, with its players as vanguard. This is what Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Nike commercial nails: Abidjan is not Manchester, even if fiber-optics, satellite and wirelessness (how many scenes in that commercial involve watching someone watch something?) purport to erase that distance.

That, and Cristiano Ronaldo has an incredible imagination.

At least ESPN's World Cup/Sportscenter tie-in clip got it right.

Presented by

Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. More

Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Bookforum, Slate, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe Ideas section and The Wire (for whom he writes a bi-monthly column). He is on the editorial board for the New Literary History of America.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Entertainment

Just In