Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Tonight we went to see Martin Sonneborn read from his work for the German satire magazine Titanic and the political party they founded, Die Partei. Although I already knew most of the stories, it was very entertaining. Which is probably due to the fact that many of the things he and his magazine do are absolutely hilarious in the first place… and quite depressing in what they demonstrate about the country in the second place.

To begin with, he dug up old stories about how they wanted to ‘help out’ ‘unsuccessful’ political parties (like the liberal or social democrats) by running some information campaigns before elections in their name. The most vital parts of that are dressing up in the correct colours, getting alcoholic drinks of the matching colour and finding parts of the public to sell this to. As absurd as that sounds, it seems to work quite well. As usually the affected parties would rather sue them for doing this than to appreciate the effort, making sure some neutral media people are around to document things turns out to be a good idea as well.

The next logical step after this was for them to found their own political party which they simply called Die Partei which itself is just a silly acronym. They want to be good at playing the political game and thus needed a catchy theme which many people agree with… the re-dis-unification of the country, i.e. building a new wall between the east and the west of the country. They did manage to get accepted to participate in elections with the help of their readers and could be voted for in two states last autumn.

The best thing about that was that you get free TV ads on the public TV channels if you run for elections. And so they did. With some scandals about product placement on the public channels being current at the time, they went straight ahead and offered the chance for product placement in their ads for sale on eBay. And they ended up doing stuff for the cheapo-airline HLX, claiming to be paid €25000 for that. By now the airline is in denial about that. It is claimed that the headquarters of the company owning them complained… this sounds plausible but it could have been made up as well. Fun! At least those were the most entertaining pre-election ads I have ever seen.

To finish off the topic he brought a news show from a crappy news station where they interviewed him for a full five minutes. That was just hilarious as the front-woman really took up the topic and asked a lot of questions with a straight face. That only broke down in one scene when she told Sonneborn that the gestures with his arms ‘look almost professional’ right there on the show (apparently he had asked about how he could improve in between). Amazing stuff!

But that was just the first part. After a short break he went on to tell us how they brought the FIFA world championship to Germany. Most people call it ‘football world championship’ but read the PR – it’s really called FIFA world championship officially. Not that that makes any sense or anybody knows what the acronym stands for.

So the FIFA is a club of rich stupid old morons or liars. Not a big surprise as there are both big money and football – possibly the worst aspects of western culture – involved. And Germany’s football association with support by many people wanted to give up public and commercial liberties of the people around here and have those morons rape the country for a few weeks. So they applied. And – so the story goes – it was a bit of a tie between Germany and South Africa for who’d get the championship and the highly transparent and democratic poll of the FIFA was arranged so the vote would end up being a tie, meaning that their dictator/boss/whatchacallit could just decide on his own.

Somehow that didn’t work out because a very old guy who voted for New Zealand abstained from his vote instead of voting for South Africa. Later he claimed that he was confused and so on. And part of that confusion may – or may not – have come from the fact that the good people from Titanic sent faxes to all the voting members of the committee the night before the decision was made. Apparently the fancy Swiss hotel they stayed in had no problem with delivering those faxes both timely and discretely.

Those faxes, of course, were very plain offers of bribes. They didn’t offer millions or fame… no, they just offered a basket of sausages and ham topped off by a cuckoo clock. And that may just have confused the old guy a bit too much, causing him to vote incorrectly and Germany having to endure that FIFA thing. Ever since, Titanic claimed that they are the ones deserving the credit for having that event around here.

Somehow the faxes weren’t discreetly hidden but made it to the public. Apparently none of that was intended or thought through… so the faxes included the fax number of Titanic. And they started receiving calls from around the world for days. The German yellow press caught the story as well and told their readers to call Titanic as well and complain to them (which resulted in a CD with the most ridiculous calls… people who call somewhere to complain about, errr, what exactly? but they’ll do it with a lot of energy, swear words and calls for death penalty). Statements like You’re lucky that I’m living far away from your place were heard a lot.

Hence a small practical joke turned into a huge story. And apart from the fact that we have to endure that championship around here, that was quite funny.

April 11, 2006, 1:11

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