19 February 2015

Confederacy of Dunces: Adrian Durham to the left, racist Chavs to the right...

How I love painting entire swaths of the population with one brush. Stereotypes are, after all, a real time-saver. Who has the time these days to understand nuances and complexities, let alone facts, when a few quick generalizations are usually enough to encapsulate the entire experience of hundreds of thousands of people on the basis of the actions or opinions of a vocal few? Hang it all, man, my attention span is short and the outrages are many, so I, like most, don't have the time, inclination, or ability to suss out the details. Far better  to seize on the nearest available piece of evidence or misremembered fact and go from there (easier, too!). And that brings me to Adrian Durham's latest bit of drivel. Yes, I know that referring to Durham's drivel is both alliterative and redundant, but give me credit for not including dross or droolin' as well. Overkill. Subtlety is, after all, a calling-card of mine...

Right. For this one, lads, let's make me look thoughtful, dense, and...
NO! I mean dense as in full of depth, not, like thick.
A few days ago, among other words successfully arranged into sentences, Durham manage to dribble out the following:
Who's next on the conveyor belt of world-class superstar heroes?

The tell-tale signs of this condition are as follows: Gooners go on social media to over-praise a certain player, selectively use statistics which support their point, and avoid at all costs a degree of measured judgement. The Arsenal player should be compared favourably with all others, especially if they play for Real Madrid, Barcelona or Chelsea.
Of course, this is an epidemic of Biblical proportions that is also completely localized and unique to Arsenal supporters, for no other club has its contingent of naifs and breathless, supporters who take to twitter to intemperately extol the performance, virtues, or sexual desirability of the latest Gooner to achieve something on the pitch. None of us is capable of, in Durham's words, "measured judgment" (emphasis mine).  Exhibit A: Mesut Özil. As Durham states it:
[E]veryone quickly worked out the reasons why Real Madrid were happy to let him go. Without him they won the Champions League, with him Arsenal lifted the FA Cup. You do the maths.
Ah, yes. As we all learned in first-form maths, if one event happens after another, the first event ineluctably caused the second. It's inescapable. The same will inevitably be trotted out should Barcelona win the Champions League. Like Özil. everyone knew that Alexis was dead-weight, the only factor holding his club back from achieving the pinnacle of success. Everyone knew it but only Durham had the brass-balls big enough to say it.

Moving on from Özil to Coquelin, Durham offered the following:
Did I just hear someone compare him to Patrick Vieira? Next they’ll be claiming he’s better than Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic put together.
Maybe you did, Adrian, but it doesn't really count if you yourself say it out loud just so you can pretend to have overhead it for the purposes of sounding snide. Climbing down a bit to offer a morsel of respect and diplomatic pander, he offers this fig-leafed olive-branch:
The over-hype of Coquelin embarrassed a few Gooners who understandably felt the need to inject some realism into the matter.
Thank you, Adrian, for admitting that there are a few Gooners who understand reality. It's hard, lonely work, I tell you, trying to counter the mindless opinions of the hundreds of thousands of Gooners who, without the intrepid, tireless efforts of a few of us, would convince the world that Özil is one of the best creative passers in the world—an opinion held, after all, only by Gooners. No one anywhere has ever claimed that Özil is any good. Not worth two-bob. Nickin' a livin'. Alexis? Flat-track bully. Barça were thrilled to unload him. In neither of those cases were the selling clubs looking to finance the purchase of some other sexier bauble by selling off a valuable asset. Nope. Just because one event happens before another just doesn't mean the first one caused the...wait. I lost track of...nevermind.

All of this thinking is complicated, and inspired by Durham's model, I'll back instead on some tried and true tropes.

All Chelsea fans are racist. 

That was easy. Being a wind-up merchant who specialises in classless aspersions takes a lot less effort than looking for substance or detail. I could have said, "it is truly infuriating that a small number of boneheaded knuckle-draggers escaped their cages and showed themselves for who they really are when they rudely and racistly prevented a black man from boarding a train in Paris, and I'm sure that the broad majority of Chelsea fans are appalled, outraged, and up in arms hoping that those knuckle-draggers are banned from Stamford Bridge or any other stadium". See, though, that would require me to think things through, and that takes effort. Standards. Attention. Thinking skills. Why bother, when I could for half the effort slap an alluring title at the top of a post and offer the same pictures-to-text ration one might find in a children's "I Can Read" primer?

All sarcastic and sardonic attempts aside, Durham and his ilk offer nothing less than yellow journalism at its worst: lurid headlines, mindless exaggeration, and juvenile wind-ups. Are there a few racist Chelsea fans out there? Sure. Thanks to that video, we can prove that there are at least a few who think, at best, that racism counts as "top bantz" or, at worst, a legitimate mindset. Even against the faded backdrop of 1980s hooliganism, though, it's more than a stretch of the imagination to accuse the broader fanbase of similar attitudes. Each club—Arsenal included—has its sliver of nitwits and nimrods who are prone to boneheaded exaggerations in defense of their club and on offense against others.

It's a pity that Durham isn't guilty of a more-imaginative, nuanced critique of Gooners, but, then again, babbling cretins are what babbling cretins are. However, while we're getting wound up over his mischaracterization of us as mindless boosters of our own club, let's be careful not to become mindless critics of another club. There are plenty of reasons to loathe Chelsea without slinging the ugly charge of racism at its entire fanbase.

For every club as popular as are Arsenal and Chelsea [choke—sorry. Just threw up in my mouth a little bit there], there's going to be a leech who attaches himself to that club in order to suck at its proverbial teat. So it its with Durham. I hope you don't mind me latching onto him to prove a point about staying sane, logical, and level-headed. After all, it would be ironic if not hypocritical to succumb to the same disease that plagues Durham's brain region inside his cranium where a brain might otherwise be found.