By Walter Broeckx
You know that I do not agree with the way the doom and gloom brigade sees things around The Arsenal. Like I said before I get angry by seeing them telling all their silly sentences like “sack Wenger”, “Give Denilson to the spuds” and more nonsense.
But as I always have the habit of trying to look at both sides of the coin and I wonder if there is something so we could say : forgive them as they do not know what they are doing.
Ever since I grew up I had a (very) soft spot for England, London and of course The Arsenal in my heart. My favourite programs on TV were mostly British comedy’s and I really liked the way you could have a laugh with yourself and your society.
As I am a Johnny Foreigner I also have to look from a certain distance and I have noticed some differences between the UK and my own country. Let’s take the media as an example as this is going to be very important in relation to my conclusion.
When I learned English we talked a lot about English society and also about the media. You had The Times which always was seen as a serious newspaper and also thought to take a balanced approach to the news. On the other had you had the tabloids like The Sun, (to name just one). Today perhaps one might argue that the serious unbiased papers are The Guardian and The Independent – but it is a matter of perspective.
They were always looking for more sales and did about everything for that. I must say the page 3 girls are really unknown in my country and I must say we look at it with some amusement and find it is rather silly to do. I never would buy any newspaper for the naked breasts that could be in it, not that I don’t like a nice women’s breast but if you want to see that you can also buy more specialised magazines or ask your wife to show hers. Way off topic.
But to sell newspapers the tabloids are in a fierce competition with each other and the way to sell is to make good headlines or (to be more accurate) write headlines that sell newspapers.
We all know how important a good title is. Even this week I clicked on a link with the intent to tell a writer that he was an utterly big c*nt, just to discover that his article was just the opposite of his title. It was about sacking Wenger and I ended up by congratulating the guy for his great article and it was only because of his title I went on his site. So headlines or titles are important.
In my country we have no tabloids, and no page 3 girls. We have some weekly magazines who tell the interested audience who is sleeping with whom in glamour land but that’s about it. Our newspapers are mostly moderate in their headlines and it is only in exceptional circumstances that they cross the line and make hard headlines. When Dutroux, our worldwide known paedophile, was caught after years of blatant incompetence by the police it really did express the anger off the people.
But I must say that I really think that this is totally different in the UK. When I run through the headlines in the British press I always stumble in on rather aggressive headlines. I’m going to give some examples which could have been in the papers when it comes for example to the game against MU: “Rooney rips Arsenal to pieces.” “United humiliates Arsenal”.
If someone hasn’t seen the game he will think: Arsenal have been shit for 90 minutes and MU has outplayed them and Arsenal had no shots on goal…. But this was not the case. In fact Arsenal had the upper hand for most of the first half hour until the two goals just flew in, and in an instant changed the game.
In my country we would have titles if it was a game from over here: “United had the lucky break in an, until then, balanced game” or “United wins on the counter attack”. If you then haven’t seen the game you would be better informed and think: It was rather even but United finished it on the break. And this sums the game better up than the headlines where they speak of ripping a team to pieces.
It seems to me that in the British media there are only 2 colours left and those are black and white. If you win you are the best, the greatest, and all superlatives are thrown out to hail the winners. Even if those winners played terribly for 90 minutes and won by one shot that took seven deflections before it went in and the other team has hit the post 17 times, had 9 balls saved from the line and had 5 goals disallowed for offside when they were not offside.
No the rule is: you hail the winner and bury the losers with all the mud you can find. The press seems nowadays always need to choose the side of the winner. Except when the winner is Arsenal of course. Then it is the other team that didn’t turn up. It is never Arsenal that rips other teams to pieces or humiliates other teams. This is not done but this isn’t my point.
In that black/white world of the media I miss the colour that in fact is the most appropriate namely GREY. Is it a part of the society that is getting harder on people more and more ? Or is the media by its behaviour setting out the lines to society ?
This is a question I cannot answer as I have to sit in the distance and try to make sense of it all. But looking from a distance I really have the feeling that some 30 years ago your society was much friendlier and more balanced than now. In those days I remember losing teams getting a lot of credit for their performance. Now the winners are hailed and the loser are presented as the worst team ever. Hardly any balance anymore.
So the thing is I have another point to refer to but if you live in the UK you only get the same message in black and white version. And I see the way the same game is talked about in our press and then it is mostly grey. You don’t have this and so you tend to accept that it is all black and white. I can imagine that when you grow up in such an environment after some years you develop the habit of always looking for those two colours and don’t even know that there is grey out there.
But, and this is the luck of me being a bit older and more experienced and as I can look at it from the outside, I can see the difference there is.
So the question is now: are those who write in doom and gloom about The Arsenal brainwashed by the press? Have they not have enough experience in life to know that there are other colours? I could say that each person has the duty to think for himself and not letting his thoughts be dictated by the media. We have a free mind and we should use it and not run blind behind what the press is telling us to think.
But maybe not all people have reached that phase in their lives yet and maybe as they say in Dutch: common sense comes with age. And yes I’m a bit older and maybe wiser…..
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