The politics of gestures: The politics of entitlement

Man Utd boss Sir Alex is in the news again for making an obscene gesture at Wally Downes and the Reading fans. He purportedly ‘flipped the bird’ but it looked more like the ‘fisting’ version.
The manager of the league leaders makes an angry gesture at a club staving of relegation. This is Commedia Dell’Arte. Sir Alex is the persecuted one in this case because Reading gave his team a run around. The injustice of it all. He was relieved that it turned out well and gave vent to his feelings. My persecuted bladder roams around in NYC looking for a public restroom nowhere to be found. Do I relieve myself on the streets in protest? Its a real quandary.
Surely, Steve Coppell should be walking around alternately ‘fisting’ both hands after the way his club season has gone. In fact, the FA should have given him an ‘early bird’ special after the Spurs game. But he is a manager of a small, relatively poor club and they have to remain classy. You can’t be poor AND petty. Its too bourgeois. But competitive is the codeword. When Sir Alex does it he is being ‘famously competitive’ or has his ‘competitive juices’ flowing or whatever schlock is used as descriptors. If Coppell does it, he is being a sore loser. His season is going to pieces. He has venereal disease. He is a psychotic mofo. He probably has credit card debt.
Sir Alex gets away with a wink and a nod because he is a member of the G14. He gets to hang around Sepp Blatter and decide whither English soccer should go. His club has the largest following in the world which means billions of pounds for the EPL. He eats up titles like breakfast cereal and enjoys a knighthood. The Colossus of Rhodes can be indulged garden variety hand gestures. Its the fire hydrant kind on a Reading street which would get him in trouble. Or maybe not.
Di Canio getting all Roman
Here is another example and apologists have defended this man for years. When Paolo Di Canio raises his arm in an obvious fascist salute he is being proud of his heritage. Its a gesture celebrating the Roman Empire. Through his book he is lauded as a sensitive man, pro-immigrant and anti-racist. This comes in a country that has approximately 4% immigrants, the toughest immigration laws in Europe, and one of the most insular soccer leagues. Its the same shtick that Southern racists use to defend the display of the Confederate flag. They defend it as their heritage rather than a symbol of the Jim Crow days. But ask them and they too claim that they are anti-racists and would love voting for Barack Obama. The reality is that they turned their backs in anger on the party that gave African American their civil rights, which gives the lie to the whole flag controversy.
The Italian government made the salute illegal for a reason. It led to a World War and millions died in it. But Canio is a Lazio legend and has scored many important goals. More importantly, he pushed a referee which makes him a stand up guy. He has never been a coward. So he is entitled to it.
Claudio Lotito traded him and cut the lucrative patronage system which the Ultras enjoyed. Good riddance to bad rubbish. It took courage and extra-ordinary measures to achieve what at onetime looked impossible. Lotito now has to travel with an armed guard.
Two different gestures.Two different people. Two different leagues. Two different countries. Its the same politics of entitlement.

One comment on “The politics of gestures: The politics of entitlement
  1. I really can’t comment on Fergie because I didn’t see the incident, I will say that he’s not Gary Neville, and I would be utterly shocked if he allowed himself to do anything to insult the other team, especially considering he’s friendly with every manager who’s not Keegan or Wenger.
    As for Di Canio, you’re right. Is was sick, and had nothing to do with the Roman Empire. He’s a fascist and that’s what it was. Especially considering it was directed at Livorno and Roma, two teams that are traditionally leftist or Communist.

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