Tonight, the yearly nonsense battle between two colours kicks off. But what does the State of Origin really mean, really?
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’d ever have to a civil war, except all the actual bloodshed on this soil we never talk about. It’s about colours, it’s about billing addresses and it’s about three special school nights of concussions brought to you by white goods retailers.
It is bloody stupid.
I was recently asked to explain the State of Origin to a friend of mine from afar. I did so, telling her that it was similar to the neighbourly hate between her native France and Belgium. She didn’t know what I was talking about, and upon reflection, neither did I.
Tonight, these you-beaut warriors, will again be split in twain by the winding yet unfeeling line that winds its way between the two states; 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 Cold War was about conflicting ideologies, McDonald’s and Burger King is about unmasked plagiarism. So what is the State of Origin about? Postcodes? Hasn’t the long-running Bloods/Crips feud 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 will be recorded in the books forevermore, there are two more wars will be fought this year before yet another shaky peace, where the two armies will retreat back over the borders they started at, with little gained, or won, except vast shrinking of the brains of those who endure it.
But why? Do we not have enough conflict? Must we entertain the brutality of others for the temporary justification of the choices our parents made? Oh, why must we chase the cat?
Perhaps the final word should go to Winston Churchill. Once upon a time, he was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he simply replied, ‘then what are we fighting for?’. Crucially, he never said such a thing, but the poignancy of such an untruth would best define tonight. Go you cockroaches, go.