There is no justification for objecting to the existence of Arsenal FanTV.
Its creators spotted a legitimate gap in the market, and shrewdly constructed a platform on which to allow fans express their opinions to a wider audience. Their plan and its execution are to be admired rather than belittled, the latter of which has been the case among many critics of the channel and its format.
The world of Arsenal FanTV is here to stay, and that must be accepted. Perhaps we should even rejoice at the creation of a place where the previously voiceless can become, however briefly, the vox populi of the vast nation that is Arsenal. But then again, perhaps not. Because several of the more intransigent denizens of this brave new world are nothing if not tremendously adept at chilling the blood of less dogmatic observers through the rather distasteful combination of anger, frustration and entitlement that they hurl into our lives via the ersatz therapy couch that is Robbie Lyle’s microphone.
There are those who are capable of leaving you with a sense of cold dread, a feeling of despair and self-righteous wonder at what must be missing from their lives to make them so invested in the result of a sporting contest; or who should be the head coach of a sporting organisation; or who should not be the head coach of a sporting organisation. Or who said what about our Sharon last Tuesday in Tesco and can you believe it the absolute b**tard how f**king dare he blood?
People should not be this angry about football: aren’t they aware of its irrelevance except as what should be an enjoyable diversion? People this engorged on fury are to be feared. They inhabit a tiny space where nothing is visible beyond the wall of bitterness they have erected to shield themselves from the reality of their own disenfranchisement. They have allowed their rage to consume them to the extent that they will gladly scream, threaten and rant with abandon to an audience who – as they are surely unaware – view them largely with disdain.
These are not the type of people who should be speaking to a global audience in the millions. And yet, they are. Courtesy of Arsenal FanTV.
Moreover, several regulars on the channel now appear to consider themselves genuine authorities on football (and probably everything else), holding forth with the gravity of Cicero addressing the Senate. You just know they’ve been thinking about what they’re going to say since the moment the match began, and probably long before that. And so, after each match, the rage-orators assemble and, with the patience of crocodiles, await their turn to cast their views into the violent maelstrom that is The Arsenal Internet.
They speak with a self-important assurance that is entirely unjustified and has been in no way earned. Realistically, very few people with a true claim to possessing actual insight into élite-level football have ever appeared on Arsenal FanTV (which of course is partly its raison d’être). The most recent was a former Manchester United fullback and failed La Liga manager, who, when featured on the channel, quite evidently considered his interlocutors to be little more than jumped-up imbeciles.
Which, of course, is incorrect and unfair. But could you blame him for feeling that way about what he perceives to be the average FanTVer? After all, for most of us, the only time FanTV enters our lives is when a particularly furious or deluded ranter has been freed from the shackles of sanity and is suddenly Retweeted into our consciousness.
There isn’t really any doubt that Arsenal FanTV is a clever and worthwhile innovation on the part of one or two rather astute individuals. There’s even less doubt that it has the power to be a force for good. The problem is that the very breadth of humanity and discourse that it’s capable of encompassing means there will inevitably be those who seek to use its reach in order to appease their own frustration. And, of course, that may be absolutely fine with the owners, as they watch the hits rain down and the subscriber numbers skyrocket, but perhaps given their success they can now afford to be more discriminating when it comes to who they broadcast.
Possibly, many of you reading this piece will currently be yelling “free speech” at the top of your lungs. But this isn’t an attack on free speech. It’s a letter of objection aimed at those who use free speech to infect others with their anger. Certainly, they have a right to do so, but equally there is a right to rail against them: to suggest that, perhaps, they should all just calm down a bit; to point out that, at the end of the day, it’s really just not that important whether or not Arsenal FC are winning football matches.
Maybe it’s time for these people to simply take a deep breath, re-evaluate their priorities ever so slightly and, well, stop being so furious all the time.