Choking Whiteyby Brandon Edmonds / 22.06.2009
In ‘Choke’ the just-about-worth-renting movie adaption of the icky Chuck Palahniuck novel, a dude fakes choking in restaurants and gets saved by customers who later give him gifts for making them feel useful and brave. This is choking with a purpose. Rational choking. Choking that makes perfect sense. Then there’s the Proteas.
What they do is irrational choking. Choking to no end. Choking that makes no sense.
The foundational choke came in the 1999 World Cup semi-final. Re-live it on Youtube here. It plays like a Laurel & Hardy cartoon on acid. Allan Donald loses his mind, his balls, his bat and his country the World Cup (not necessarily in that order). It is a moment in our sporting history as fraught and shameful as Zola Budd skopping Mary Decker and Hansie’s Mumbai mafioso on speed-dial. From that day forth the bad choker Mojo plagued our Proteas. It was terminal. In the last T20 World Cup, India’s oh-so-low 126 was a bridge too far when we should have won. Now the unlikely semi-final defeat to Pakistan. What is up?
Sports-related choking apparently involves over-thinking. Instead of letting instinct raise your game in the key moment, think a slashing Nadal return or a Shumacker inside pass, the perfect gesture in the perfect moment, pure performance, all that jazzy Zen shit. The choker complicates things and acts too soon or too late. It’s almost sexual. We may have the real inside clue as to the why the Biff-Minkie hookup floundered. She just wanted to have fun while Smith is an arch complicator. He over thinks. Just as Hansie was. And Kepler Wessels. White guys generally over think in a bad way. We’re self-conscious. Hesitant. Predictable. It’s why black comics use that nerdy white guy voice. Just watch ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. You can see white guys thinking the moves instead of moving without thinking. Norman Mailer knew this. He once published an essay called ‘The White Negro’ over forty years ago calling for an influx of instinct, soul and cool (qualities he problematically ascribed to blackness alone) to save white guys from themselves. The Proteas need to be saved from themselves. The Proteas need an influx of instinct, soul and cool. The Proteas need a black captain.
Choke on that!