Siberian Soapbox

It was a bit dispiriting to be honest. Try and imagine the most macho scene; actually sod it, I’ll help you out. A Siberian pub, a bearded Armenian and a bearded Irishman sinking whisky, beer and moonshine while comparing tattoos. And there was me, an Englishman sipping tea quietly in the middle. OK so I do have a magnificent beard too, but it’s dangerously edging towards the hipster end of the scale.

The Bad Side of Raheem Sterling

While Robert and Johnny compared how butch their biceps were, my mind wandered to poor little Raheem Sterling. Let’s start with a good old moan first; I bloody hate his floppy body position when running. You know those arms that bunch up into his body with limp wrists? It reminds me of those kids at school who looked like they should be shit but annoyingly were brilliant.

Then there’s his heinous choice of teams. If you haven’t picked it up by now, the Soapbox is a Scouse and ‘cityzen’-free zone. Christ there’s almost a whole new column right there on that name alone. I digress. Next up to the plate – those round sunglasses. You know, the ones just like that salty prat taking pictures with Ramos and Salah after the Champions League final? Whatever his name is, he’s a prize tool, and his shades are too.

Tabloid Attacks

Alright we’re descending into farce here, so let’s get this whole rant back on board. What in the holy name name of God almighty has Raheem Sterling done wrong? I’m hardly first on the scene with a bleedin’ exclusive on this, but the rabid red-tops are twisting the boundaries of sanity on their own claims to what are becoming practically daily exclusives into the lad’s every movement.

So utterly ridiculous is the depth and breadth of the bizarre ‘stories’ concocted I have to pause a moment. Genuine question: is there actually something Sterling said or did that so deeply offended the tabloid media? Even for the gutter rats that they are, it seems a stretch to believe they feel so strongly.

There are numerous brilliant threads on twitter that detail the string of ludicrous content spewed up about him. At my latest count – and almost certainly not a complete list – there have been breaking scandals about him being tired, having breakfast, not cleaning his car, flying low-cost airlines, eating in Greggs, shopping in Poundland and Primark, proposing to his partner, going on holiday, spending some of his salary on a sink and having friends.

Tattoo Tittle Tattle

What a terrible and offensive person he must be. The latest scandal of course is over a tattoo the lad has revealed – hence my thoughts from the pub. Forgive me for a moment, but I must suspend the sarcasm for a moment. When Sterling was just two, his absent father was gunned down in a poor area of Kingston. He moved to London four years later, and had to fight his way into football.

His choice of an assault rifle on his leg was explained by the man himself as a reminder of a promise he made to himself to never touch guns. It’s not a decision that would be copied by some. That, however, is spectacularly missing the point – it’s his father, his life, and his body. Trying to criticise it for the image it promotes is pointless; we’d be here all day analysing the impact footballers’ tattoos have.

Rather predictably his choice of ink was lambasted by the beer-swilling louts who presumably read the bog-roll garbage titles. Equally unsurprisingly, Piers Morgan waded in with another ‘please-take-me-seriously’ tweet or few. I mean if that moral vacuum has an opinion, it’s usually safe to say the opposite is valid.

Let’s play fair to the phone-tapper briefly. In his entertaining twitter row – aren’t they becoming quite the must-have accessory nowadays? – with Gary Lineker, he did concede that it wasn’t Sterling’s intention to glamourise gun violence. Then again, he will do anything to cosy up to a powerful, deranged and childish orangutan who loves guns and racists for coverage, so the attempt to play fair becomes a little insincere.

Who’s Really To Blame?

Part of me thinks this descent into dredging every drop of click-bait crap is a natural consequence of people’s stupidity. The moronic masses who listen to anything they read in the absence of grey matter to think for themselves feed – quite literally – the bile that pours forth from tabloid pages. Copies are sold, attention-seeking excuses for journalists are fed, the world keeps spinning.

Here’s the thing: while it is correct to lambaste the trollops propagating the hatred, the real root cause is the audience. Supply and demand – if the crowd want hate, give them hate. Just to be clear, that is the likely mindset of editors, not my personal opinion. Then again, if you needed that explaining to you, you’re probably part of the problem.