On the blogs we should be fighting the media and their attempt to brainwash us all with their version of reality – but most blogs do the reverse.
There is something utterly sinister within our media. The issue raises the question of the news, and how it is created, and through it, what is happening to Arsenal in the media at the moment.
Of course in many cases there is no question about what is, and what is not, the news. The events at West Ham against Millwall, were, of course news. A man was stabbed, there was fighting in the streets, a football match was interrupted. That’s news.
But having rushed to cover the pitch invasion at West Ham, and the fighting outside the ground, the media were stuck on two points. If they kept running that story then football as a commercial industry would take a dive. Firms would be less inclined to be associated with it, would be less likely to advertise alongside football, and the implications for the media would be huge.
Huge pressure followed from the EPL and the FA – lay off West Ham and the pitch invasion.
At the same time, the story was awkward for the media itself. West Ham is always portrayed as friendly, family, the image of Brooking, Moore and the like. You get the feeling that the commentators want to call it Sir West Ham.
It is the true English home of football, unlike Arsenal with all its Johnny Foreigners and clever-clever approach.
Yet clearly West Ham were at the centre of this event – and as the Millwall manager pointed out, no Millwall fan was on the pitch. West Ham invaded from three sides – no Millwall involvement.
But Millwall are always paraded as evil – the cause of problems in football, so none of this fits at all. The BBC had real problems with the Millwall bit – when one commentator said that inside the ground you could not blame Millwall, the others quickly huffed and puffed, and said “I don’t think you can say that.”
So two things needed to happen – the story had to be spiked and quick, and a replacement found. Step forward Eduardo.
Players go over, dive, do all sorts of things – look at Chelsea at the end of last season to watch players screaming at the ref for example, but the fact has been long estabished, if the ref saw it and made a decision, that’s that. You don’t touch it.
But the media needed the story, and the authorities in football needed a diversion, and they all needed to pick on a club that can be derided. A new story, and a new person to target, and old enemy.
Arsenal are a target for the media on many levels. The club is long-term establishment, not of the ordinary people. It is foreign (remember it was Liverpool who first played a cup final without an English player – but we never hear that – it is always Arsenal who are destroying English football).
It is careful with its money – which is a good thing – except the media now turn it into a bad thing (Arsenal are a selling club).
And worst of all. It is intellectual. It applies the laws of health eating to football (how un-British do you want to be???) The manager and his team know everything about world football. How very different to Happy Harry and his wheeler dealer approach. Let’s forget that he left West Ham overnight, and they then had huge problems, Portsmouth (what a mess today) and Southampton (administration, 10 points off, division 3).
But no, let’s not celebrate a funny foreigner with his clever-clever ideas. Let’s focus on good old British muddle, and let’s ignore the disaster that Harry’s career has been, and instead let’s celebrate him.
The fact is, in a very real sense, the media creates the news and creates the images around the news. It tells us what to think.
It has been this way since the earliest national papers appeared at the end of the 18th century: the media creates reality. Here’s a most simple example – if a channel does not have TV access to a forthcoming match – it removes it from the record. The BBC teletext service ignored Arsenal / Celtic while covering every other game – even down to the Conference. Sky doesn’t even acknowledge the World Cup, and so on.
Or consider Heysel and Hillsborough, both involving Liverpool FC, and in both a tragic loss of life. The media decides one is newsworthy over the years, the other not. How true this is will be seen this season. Last season was the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough, this season the 20th of Heysel. Compare the coverage – or compare the Heysel coverage this year with the amount of time spent on a Liverpool fan who got locked up overseas last season.
Of course matters are getting worse now with the concept of simply making up stories. Take the Sun’s piece about Arsenal having a short team. Totally invented – as a comparison of heights between Arsenal and other sides last season shows (just read your members’ handbook if you want to check it match by match).
But the Sun said it and the media picked up on it. Now, each time Arsenal play there are commentators talking about “Arsenal’s lack of height”.
And this is what the media will never tell you. That they interpret everything to their own ends, and push that interpretation down your throat so much you start to believe it – even when it is quite untrue.
And what they can’t interpret they invent. Arshavin needing a new contract because of tax? Fabregas dropped from Arsenal against Celtic because he is off to Spain?
The media is desperate for you to believe that there is a real factual world out there which they report. A world in which Eduardo dived and should be punished. A world in which Arsenal’s team is short of height. A world in which the media is just faithfully researching and publishing the truth – when in fact they are both inventing facts, and more incidiously, deciding on the interpretation of facts.
What is really sad is the much of the blog sphere follows this way of working – seeing the way the media works as a blueprint, rather than as a dire warning. On the blogs we should be fighting the media and their attempt to brainwash us all with their version of reality, but this doesn’t happen.
There’s no point even suggesting any of this to any aspect of mainstream media, because even to admit it might be an issue is to admit to a chink in their armour, and they won’t have that.
But just remember, every time you turn on Sky or pick up a paper. You are being told how to see the world, and how to respond. And that is exactly the vision that has worried people for quite a few years.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009