I know it’s the perfect headline, combining transfer stories, WAGs, FIFA, and new kits and you feel abused now because you were trolled, I know, but there’s a larger point: you are always being trolled but you willingly give in to it all the time.
You’re probably one of the smart ones out there. One of the people who sees a headline like “Why Jovetic will eat thunder and crap lightning for Arsenal” and immediately roll your eyes, but you click the article anyway. And worse still, you scan the whole thing looking in vain for a small bit of news to add to some growing gestalt construct called “Jovetic at Arsenal”: oh look, this guy calls him a “cool finisher.” Right, “mazy dribbler, cool finisher, will make Arsenal Champions of Europe, the missing piece to the attack, right, got it.”
Don’t get me wrong, I get why you click. Transfer stories aren’t just “fantasy football” as they are often derided, they are more like porn.
I probably lost some of you with “gestalt construct” but got some of you back with my mention of porn.
Porn and transfer stories are basically the same thing, they are a combination of fantasy and exaggeration: they are simultaneously something we wish we had and something we know we can never have. They are the physical made fantastic and the fantastic made physical.
Porn is somewhat about fantasy but more about the exaggeration. Normal people fantasize about sex, sure, but porn takes sex fantasies and exaggerates them. So it’s not just one beautiful woman, it’s two or three or thirteen (you freak). The girl’s not just young, she’s “barely legal” (really? Uhhh, sit down over here). The breasts aren’t just large, they are gigantic (and fake). On and on, every aspect of porn is more about the exaggeration than the fantasy.
The same with transfer rumors.
For example, right now the fantasy is that Arsenal will sign a forward, despite having purchased two and a half forwards last summer and re-signing Theo Walcott, and maybe they will.* The exaggeration of that fantasy, though, is that Arsenal will sign Cavani or Falcao. Those are the really big names in world football right now. So, why aren’t we seeing a lot of stories on them?
Because, the girl next door.
See, we’ve gotten so inured to fantasies writ large like Falcao that we need something we feel is more “attainable” and so we turn to Jovetic, the girl next door. Just like porn, the more “savvy” people become to transfer stories, the more they need to occlude reality with the cover of something “realistic”.
Let’s be realistic. Arsenal would never sign a Falcao. But we could sign Jovetic! Sure, he would break Arsenal’s transfer record but Fiorentina just missed out on Champions League football and they could offer him that!
The trick here is to be “realistic” just like the “girl next door” variety of pornography. Not real. Realistic. Real-like. A facsimile of real.
The next step is that once you’ve tricked the person into believing that he/she has a chance with this fantasy babe, then the fantasy has to be re-branded within the story to make it porn again. No one watches videos of the girl next door reading Chaucer, they want to see her doing something fantastic.
Thus with Jovetic, he becomes:
a gifted player who is amazy dribbler with the ball at his feet. He has excellent vision and passing skills, but is also capable of finishing with deadly accuracy and skill. His poise on the ball gained from Serie A will be particularly valuable to the Gunners’ possession-centered attack
Most of that is fantasy, he’s a 41% dribbler and does have 66 dribbles on the season but hardly “mazy”, his passing skills are actually surpassed by his own teammate Adem Ljajic who has 8 assists on 44 key passes and passes at an 88% rate, and his finishing is not “deadly accurate” as he has just 13 goals on 114 shots with just 43 shots on target — an almost identical rate to last season.** You know who else shoots a lot from outside and has similar percentages, similar goal tally, but from fewer actual shots? Podolski.
But still, you say, we could use him! Yes, in that fantasy world we could use him except just like the porn actress, this too is not attainable. ”I don’t think Arsene Wenger is interested in the boy” said Fiorentina’s Prade today as reality broke into the fantasy world. Maybe Arsenal are interested and this is all just smoke and mirrors, right?*
In many ways everything about sports is fantasy anyway so I don’t mean to disabuse you the fantastic. We buy the shirt with the player’s name on the back because the little kid inside us still wants to be that player despite the fact that we know we will never be able to score a goalazo like he did against AC Milan. We want the team to win trophies because we become champions by proxy, and we ultimately want to get all the big name signings because we feel like we own a little piece of that person when we buy our season ticket or watch them on teevee.
So, by all means, click away on those transfer stories. Go for it and make sure you have lots of tabs open at work and that you hide them when a coworker walks by.
Just try not to get anything on the screen, the janitors are not paid to clean up your biohazard.
*Fantasy must always be given hope
**”He shoots a lot from distance” say people as an excuse for his profligacy