I am a writer. I write about stuff. Most people know me for my portfolio of football articles. The kind words and praise are all very nice.
When you write about anything the one thing you must have is ‘an angle’…With football this isn’t very difficult. We all have opinions. We all have the necessary means to voice those opinions. If we want to be ‘In The Know’ about fictitious transfers then we can be. If we want to shout and swear about opponents we can do that. If we want to slate our own players – its all too easy. In terms of communicating to the masses…..it’s never been easier.
I have been an avid reader of fanzines for years. Red Issue is just one of them. I’ve often read other clubs fanzines as well, cos it gives you a good barometer of what is going on at a club. The humour is also great. Football fans know how to laugh at others like no other facet of society…sometimes cruel and sometimes unneccessary…but always sharp and on the money.
So Red Issue, with Manchester United only a matter of games away from a historic title have decided to proceed with a front cover featuring an almost dead Fabrice Muamba as medics fought to save his life, with some clever speech bubbles. Nice….good bit of current satire is that. Provocative. Different. A bit like how The Sun would put pictures of a car crash on its front porch so we could all see it and go…..”oh dear oh dear”
Of course Red Issue are NOT making light of what happened to Muamba (It’s worth pointing out that I do not know yet what is inside the pages of the publication)
Their point is highlighting the incredible amount of grief that was collectively displayed across the public and social media, as Muamba was taken to hospital to try to facilitate an unlikely recovery – We now know his heart stopped for well over an hour. Red Issue describes these pre meditated mourners as ‘Grief Junkies’…it certainly is commonplace on sites like Twitter. Stick a hashtag in the right place, and baby you’re gonna trend! Next doors dog gets run over? And its all #Pray4Rover
In essence, I thoroughly agree with the sentiment. I think social media has created a monster. The way people congregate has changed. The way people act as a collective has also changed. When a celeb dies, or if a Blue Peter presenter is in a skiing accident, or maybe a well know TV animal meets his maker…it is on Twitter before you know it. Not the 9 o’clock news….but Twitter. When Michael Jackson died…I read it on my timeline first. When Whitney Houston died, the first place I looked for gruesome death information was Twitter. This is the modern age.
Some of the things I read in those first couple of days after the Muamba collapse were laughable. I saw people making elaborate tributes as if the lad had died. I saw people producing decorated shirts with kind graffiti adorning their once club shop purchase. ‘We’re with you Fabrice!!’…was the order of the day. I found it slightly disconcerting. Arsenal fans only this last weekend produced a whole banner of the lad’s face…for a player who played all of about 3 games for them. There is definitely a case that it’s all a bit OTT.
But let’s be subjective about this. Let us try to have a rounded opinion on what has very much been a unique event in Premier League terms.
What if it wasnt Fabrice Muamba? What if it was Ryan Giggs? …Giggsy trots across the Old Trafford pitch as the play enters the penalty box. The Old Trafford crowd notice him fall to the floor in the centre circle. Has the boy’s hamstring gone again? His hamstrings always go! No…it looks worse than that. Medics then rush on to the pitch. We stand their with our hands over our mouths. What are we witnessing? Surely we are not witnessing…….this? Well yes we are. We’re watching a Premier League footballer take what looks like his last breath…in front of an audience. It wouldn’t matter if it was Giggs or Paul Pogba. The event itself would be tragic.
But yes Muamba, and in this case Giggs….didnt die. That is the bit to be celebrated. It is a classic football story…where victory was stolen from the jaws of defeat. The player survived. We all rejoiced. We all got back on with our lives.
The point is that Red Issue’s point about people (via its tweets) is wrong. What is wrong with having empathy? In its most basic form we can feel sorrow and understanding for whoever we want. If Ryan Giggs had been that player on the pitch, would Red Issue stick it on their front cover? Would Red Issue feel riled by all the people tweeting about Giggsy? Or would Red Issue do a tribute special? Would Red Issue thank fans from other clubs who showed support during a trying time? Red Issue tweeted about Munich as a comparison with Bolton cancelling it’s fixtures. I just think that is insensitive and crass. Not just to Bolton…but to MUFC fans as well. Connecting tragedy does no one any favours.
Without trying to preach…Its called humanity. It is very easy to tread all over having a bit of humanity in a cyber age, when using the technology of the internet to display ’emotion’
Red Issue can cut their cloth closer to the bone if it thinks it may sell a few more copies of their publication outside of Old Trafford, and that is all well and good. Id personally prefer fanzines to concentrate on good writing, than try to ‘shock and awe’ with not-so-clever satire. Im honestly not ‘judging’ Red Issue…no way. It is just unfortunate that they would lead with such a topic when the situation itself that prompted their tweeting outrage… is still so raw. As someone who edits a United website, I find the justification behind the means odd to say the least.
Im not interested in telling anyone how they should support Manchester United. Or what makes a ‘Top Red’….but hey…a bit of compasion in life goes a long way. We can save all our jokes for later, surely? Red Issue has been a great fanzine for many a year, and I hope that continues. But I do hope it understands the difference between being thought provoking and emotive, and being offensive.
Because offensive eventually just loses you readers.
It’s not about having empathy though, is it. It’s about shouting “Look at me, I’ve got empathy!”