Early on in his review of the new movie/vanity project documenting a year in the life of Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Taylor noted “it is difficult not to come away with the feeling that Ronaldo must shout his own name during sex.”
If the enduring metaphorical image of the movie is Ronaldo, mid-coitus, staring at himself in the mirror that’s no doubt affixed to the ceiling above his bed, and yelling “Ronaldo!” at the moment of climax, then the movie’s extravagant London premiere was the platinum-plated, diamond-encrusted frame it deserves.
There are two dueling drives within Ronaldo that lead to much of the strange and somewhat off-putting sensation he elicits. The first is his desire to at all times be himself. This is what explains his habit of showing up his teammates when they score instead of setting him up, his regular shots at his haters who he sees as motivated by jealousy, the absence of any self-consciousness when he proudly states whenever asked that he is the greatest player in the world, and here, his belief that an intimate view of his day-to-day life—carefully curated and approved by his people—would make fascinating viewing for everybody.
Running somewhat counter to that is his hunger to be loved, or at the very least acknowledged. This is what explains his overexposure in interviews and ads and social media and publicity tours, the importance he gives to individual awards and stats, his perennial threats to leave Real Madrid for somewhere he feels would appreciate him more, the (waning as of late, it should be said) resentment that peaks out when he discusses the more widely revered Lionel Messi, and his hiring of an established documentary team to shoot his own “candid” home movies and present them to the world at a massive premiere.
Put together, this is how we get a movie about how great Ronaldo is, one he thinks will win over the world. And its conception is as clumsily awkward as the ersatz ritziness of the premiere. Ronaldo was able to lure a handful of truly famous and important people to his home movie showing; the likes of Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti, and Gary Neville, who later hosted a Q&A session, walked the red carpet. Also in attendance were a number of popular British TV and radio personalities. Yet alongside those relative luminaries were the scores of regular people who probably only came to get gussied up and pretend they were famous for a day. The @RonaldoFilm Twitter account captured them all, star and plebe alike, knowingly offering those who showed up the illusion of fame while rubbing shoulders with the man who granted it, Ronaldo himself.
Ronaldo and his handlers were not content to let the goofy spectacle of a red carpet blowout event for a movie no one is going to see stand on its own as publicity for the movie. No, to make sure blogs like this one picked up on the story, the Guinness World Records people were on hand to add to the night’s viral-readiness.
The first order of business was for Ronaldo again to share some of his majesty with the masses by trying to break the world record for most selfies snapped in three minutes. It was as odd as you’d imagine:
Centering the attention squarely back on the man of the hour, Ronaldo was later presented with a plaque by the folks at Guinness for his standing as the most liked person on Facebook:
The selfies, the Facebook likes, the movie and premiere themselves—together they paint a sad portrait of a man almost completely divorced from everyday life, hungrily seeking the approval of everyday people.
Ronaldo is obviously irked by the common accusation that he’s disingenuous. As he’s said in one of the myriad interviews he’s given lately, he disputes this characterization:
Asked why people may dislike him, Ronaldo said: “Maybe the way I am, my personality, the way I see football. I’m not a fake person. It’s normal, it’s part of the business. No one can control that.”
But it’s not so much that people think Ronaldo is fake, in the sense that suppresses his natural impulses to behave in calculated ways to gain fans; rather, it’s that the more you see and hear of Ronaldo expressing his genuine sentiments and emotions, you’re left wondering how a person like that could ever be real at all.
Top photo via Getty