Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.
Recently, there has been a new outbreak of fan warfare regarding the Arsenal. A couple of bad results, some poor performances and Mr Wenger making certain statements has once again fuelled caustic and venomous debate within our fan base. It didn’t take long after the euphoria of the FA Cup win. So I thought it would be a good time to repost something I put on A Cultured Left Foot a few months ago.
Having now visited and read several different Arsenal fan blogs over a few months, I have started to formulate some thoughts relating to the diverse and sometimes abusive differences which have developed within the Arsenal fan base. The underlying causal factor is quite clear, the internet, which has connected people from all over the world and therefore, increased the possibility to converse with others on a daily basis. The secondary causal factor is conflict, with a clash of opinion and belief.
A faction is a subgroup within a larger organization that is in conflict with other members of that organization. Factions occur when a subset of organizational members begin to develop a distinct collective identity that is at least partially at odds with other members. Factionalism refers to this conflict between an organizational faction and other members, or between competing organizational factions. Strictly speaking, factionalism refers to this intra-organizational conflict. (Kelsey Kretschmer 2013)
From the perspective of Arsenal fans, the biggest cause of conflict to arise in recent times has been nine trophy-less years and who is to blame, or not to blame, depending on your standpoint. So factions have developed, from the pro-Wenger at one extreme, to the anti-Wenger at the other, with several variations in between. The catalyst for these conflicts appears to be Arsene, stuck in the middle, being judged by the way the team performs, by his decisions, his transfer dealings, his footballing philosophy, his hairstyle and the fact that his zipper doesn’t work.
Each day on the webby, these discussions, debates, arguments, disagreements and sometimes outright shit slinging take up thousands (if not millions) of typed words. If it was happening in a pub there would be a full-scale riot and people would get hurt. Luckily the internet protects us from physical violence but verbal abuse is not uncommon, I understand at some games however, different factions have resorted to fisticuffs. (I should put a little smiley here.)
In 1787, George Madison (well I think it was him, some American geezer anyway) defined factions as groups of people who gather together to protect and promote their special economic interests and political opinions.
What is clear from browsing the internet, is that opinion about the Arsenal, and Wenger in particular, is extremely varied and divided amongst fans and has led to some entrenched views and some quite aggressive reactions to fans with a different perspective. Break away blogs from established blogs have been set up because of the different opinions.
We can also see a form of Webby guerilla warfare taking place, by what are endearingly called ‘trolls’. Using various spy like name changes, these internet ‘warriors’ get some form of bizarre pleasure from visiting Arsenal blogs of a different philosophy and trying to cause havoc and mayhem, often using offensive and abusive terminology and sometimes getting the same thrown back at them.
“Do you know what “nemesis” means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an ‘orrible cunt…. me.”(Brick-top: Snatch: 2000)
I’ve not visited or read blogs of any other fan base so have no idea if this happens on the Spud, Man Utd or Chelsea blogs for instance, but my guess is that Arsenal supporters are not unique in this and I’m sure someone will be able to enlighten me.
Stanley Cohen’s study of Mods and Rockers in the 1960’s was a foundational text both in terms of investigating the workings of subcultural groups and identifying the concept of a ‘moral panic’ generated by the media, which leads to groups being vilified in the popular imagination, and inhibits rational debate about solutions to the social problems such groups represent. The insights Cohen provides into subculture and mass morality are as relevant today as they were when the book was originally published. (Stanley Cohen: Folk Devils and Moral Panics: 1972)
Cohens theory can only be loosely applied to understanding the current situation between Arsenal factions but the fundamental, underlying theme is relevent.
Factions develop over time, drawing together like-minded people, their beliefs being reinforced by regular meetings and discussions which help to consolidate the same ideas and to build a unified front against those with a different perspective. On the internet, this can be multiplied rapidly on a daily basis, whereby a faction is able to strengthen what they see as their moral high ground.
So at last, after a trophy-less nine years and a manager with money in his pocket, we have a nice piece of shiny silver in the Emirates Trophy Cabinet and a bloke called Sanchez Sanchez. As Gollum would say, (puts on Gollum accent)
“ We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.” (The Lord of the Rings: 2002)
As I would say (in the same accent) “We gots it, we wants to keeps it, we wants to gets more. It’s our precious.”
The million dollar question is therefore, has finally winning a trophy changed things between the different factions? Have they all of a sudden come together in a great out-pouring of joy, comradeship and mutual masturbation?…………..from what I’ve seen so far, have they fuck! On the streets of Islington in May it could have been observed that there was a coming together of joy and celebration amongst the fans. But unfortunately, underneath the gloss, the disagreements and venom continue.
From observation, I’d say some of the vitriol has increased on some blogs. On others, there is the obligatory congratulations, back-slapping and gloating for keeping the faith with Wenger. Others are still in the ‘lets wait and see camp’ and alternatively, there are those who are just fucking relieved that we’ve finally won something and Wenger is spending money. So if winning the FA Cup hasn’t changed the differing opinions within the fan base, what does this tell us? I would assert that the basic flaw is that we are not just Gooners, we are human as well, and as humans we have different opinions, we are varied and diverse, we feel that we have a right to stand up and be heard and finally, we want to support (or not) the Gunners or the manager in our own unique ways. In addition, we now have the internet to express ourselves, which fundamentally adds up to several different Arsenal blogs with their own philosophy, viewpoint and identity, which in turn, have thousands of fans and commentators with different viewpoints. Given the nature of man, factions are inevitable. As long as men hold different opinions, they will continue to fraternize with people who hold similar views to them.
Spoon boy: Do not try to bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
( The Matrix 1999 )
In conclusion therefore, I don’t see much changing in the near future. The disagreements will continue. The vitriol and ‘I told you so’s’ will continue, the gloating and the eating of humble pie will be awaited. So whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever you are, keep blogging in your own specific way, stick to your own individual perspective and contribute to the continuing debate which surrounds our great club.
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” (John F. Kennedy)
That was the article which I wrote for ACLF just after the FA Cup win, I didn’t realise at the time that the shit slinging would get out of hand again so quickly and with even more venom than before. The vitriol is also being aimed at our players. A recent tweet by Mertesacker about a friend who had died attracted some of the most disgusting comments towards one of our players that I have ever seen on the internet. That is not acceptable and is downright vicious and cowardly. I think as a fan base, and generally a good fan base, we should strive to get these cunts off the internet. They are a blight on our great club. The majority of fans, despite alternative views and opinions of how the club is run and the performances of the team and our manager, are able to discuss the issues calmly and with intelligence.
Beware though, with a couple of crucial games approaching, Man United and Dortmund, if those two games end up as defeats then the Arsenal world will probably go into meltdown. Demonstrations are already being talked about for the home game against United, if things go badly for us in that game then the backlash against our manager will be vicious.
It’s something I don’t want to see, I don’t want to see Arsène Wenger under that sort of cloud. He has been a great servant to the club and I want to see him go out with pride and dignity. If things get bad on the internet then it won’t be too long before it spills over into the Emirates, something I’m sure most fans don’t want to see, who don’t want to witness the club dragged through the mud and mocked by rival fans and the media. We need to see the boys pull their socks up, claim a couple of good wins and then go on a run of good results. It’s the only thing which will calm the current negativity surrounding the fan base. If we don’t improve our performances then there will be dark days ahead for our club and our manager.
Quote from a recent comment on another Arsenal blog:
“This fighting in the stands has been going on a while tbh.
I first saw it first hand away to Brighton in the FA cup. That must be two years ago, nearly, now. It was after the game, which we’d won, a flag was unfurled and punches were thrown amongst our own.”
Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo…… I hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.
GunnersoreArse, an Arsenal chill out bar for those who are searching for a safe haven from the crap that sometimes invades our bloggosphere. A place where fun is more important than argument. Where wine, women, food and song live comfortably alongside football and the Gunners. A refuge from the negativity.