For those who didn’t understand the fuss about State of Origin last night, we’ve done our best to explain it.
The frog versus the cockroach. The immortal, unsolvable problem. No matter how many times you step on either one, they’ll always be there next year. The closest thing we have in Australia to outright hostility. The closest thing we’d have to a civil war.
That, and its bloody stupid.
I was asked to explain the State of Origin for a foreigner last night. I did so, telling her that it was similar to the neighbourly hate between her native France and Belgium. She was perplexed, then lightly chuckled at the cultural appropriation of the Belgian inventions (French Fries, Tin Tin) and asked me if that’s what I meant. I agreed, because I was confused, so in that regard its probably closer to Australia vs New Zealand (Russell Crowe, Crowded House).
But, clearly, it isn’t.
Last night, these you-beaut warriors, split in twain by the winding yet unfeeling line that winds its way on the covers of the nations school books; two armies, forever clashing for a reason that no-one can remember; decades of blood spilt, hopes dashed and tears shed – for what?
As far as the great, unsolvable clashes go, it stands alone. Primarily because it has no point. The West Bank is about religion, the Cold War was about conflicting ideologies, McDonalds and Burger King is about unmasked plagiarism. So what is the State of Origin about? Postcodes? Hasn’t the long-running Bloods/Crips fued in LA done it with a better soundtrack?
The root of the conflict, I believe, is conflict itself. This location guff (NSW vs QLD) is merely the excuse. Australians have a need for conflict. Be it the heat, Johnny Turk, insects, politicians, traffic, work, backpackers, each other…we fight something on a daily basis, but it is a silent clash, with no announced victor. We don’t celebrate our victories, because ‘Straya. The State of Origin allows us to loudly focus our rage, squarely upon those who wear the other colour.
Let me rap to you about how deep, and deeply indoctrinated, the psyche of the two (yet many) combatants be. In my previous sentence, when I mentioned “the other colour”, in my mind it was maroon. Always maroon, and nothing would make it any different. It was maroon before I’d finished typing, and the possibility of it ever being blue only came to mind after re-reading it.
This makes the 80 minutes of hate wrung from the Origin clash very unique in our landscape of constant clashes. There are rules, and over the hill is the enemy. No fraternising, or you will be socially gunned down for desertion. Not even the other great, unsold stoush of our national stereotype (Ford v Holden) runs as deep. Though that is primarily because those spectating are too drunk to accurately settle the argument in the format that it is fought in (driving), so a vessel is needed – namely a blue oval (Ford) or a Holden thingo. But, a car does not have a face to punch and that’s where the difference lies.
People can be Holden people, and still be people. However, during Origin, humanity is off the table.
To explain this theory, the fight unifier (fu) is shown thusly.
Bill (subject) drives a Holden (catalyst), but you believe he’s a good bloke (modifier), therefore the fu in this equation is quite low due to the modifier, which divides your anger toward the subject.
S x C / M = fu
Whereas, in Origin time, the equation changes markedly.
Bill (subject) is from Queensland (catalyst), and therefore he can fuck right off. The fu in this situation is magnified, due to the lack of the modifier like that applied above.
S x C = fu
To conclude, the State of Origin means something, because it means nothing. And while the score is recorded in the books as 6-4, there are two more wars to be fought before peace, where the two armies will retreat back over the borders they started at, with little gained, or won, except vast bloodletting.
Wait, I’ve got it.
It’s like World War I. Three years (matches) of pointless trench warfare, and medals handed out at the end.