You know in The Dark Knight how The Joker places a bomb on each of the outgoing cruise ships, giving each captain the detonator to the other ship’s bomb and providing the ultimatum that if they don’t blow the other ship up, both ships will blow up? One was packed with hardened criminals and the other was packed with ordinary citizens with no sympathy for those who’d preyed on others. It was a test to see whether people would break their own morals to save themselves, and how they’d justify it. In the end, neither ship did.
This week, I reckon if you put Roosters fans on those ships each side would run to hit that detonator faster than you can say “fuck your opinion”.
It’s been one of those weeks. It’s understandable, especially in a losing environment that we’d forgotten existed. We’ve all earned the right to our opinions because we pay the money: through memberships, merchandise… heck, even through sitting and watching free-to-air broadcasts, your eyeballs justify the massive broadcast deal that funds the game and the club you love. The passion and the emotion that we express through opinion… that’s what makes sport what it is. Otherwise it’s just a TV show or a live performance.
But this week it’s been something else entirely. It’s like we all just quit smoking and now we’re all crammed together inside a broken lift.
The angst and the agro is palpable. You can almost taste it. It’s that taste you taste when you grind your teeth too hard; it’s that feeling of blood rushing to the head when your fingers tweet faster than the thoughts can catch.
Why this week? Well, to reference The Dark Knight again: you lose to the Titans once and everybody loses their minds!
Fans have been running at each other online all damn week. Relentlessly. They’ve come from polar ends of the argument spectrum and not once meeting in the middle for the friendly debates of yesteryear; instead, they’ve been happy to collide, bounce back to their starting position and collide all over again. Each side of the argument du jour is leaving no space for nuance; it’s their way or the highway and THAT’S IT. It’s been aggravating, captivating, hilarious, sad, maddening and fascinating all at once.
It may seem like it all started with a loss to the Titans, but it’s been building to this zenith (or is it the nadir?) since the round one capitulation to the Bunnies. Since then there’s been all manner of debates with the understanding that, at some point, this would all turn around with the return of the big three.
Why is Burgess not playing? How is Tupou not on notice? Where is Guerra? Is Jacko first grade standard? What’s doing with Friend? Do these guys care? Is Robbo the next Ricky Stuart? Why’d we let Maloney and Jennings go? If we had $600K in reserve why did we not keep Maloney or RTS?
(Forgetting the fact that the $600K, if real, opened up after we released Jennings in 2016 when those guys had already… ahh, shit, I’m doing it again! I shan’t digress anymore.)
Notice the question marks? You may have forgotten what they looked like: they’re a relic of the earlier part of the season when debate was robust but polite. Not this week. The loss to the Titans changed all that, those question marks suddenly straightening and each statement met with an equally strong counterpoint and matching exclamation.
Why is Burgess playing! How is Tupou still in the squad! Where is Guerra! Jacko is not first grade standard! Robbo is Ricky Stuart all over again! Why did we let go of Maloney!
None of the arguments on either side are, in whole, wrong (well, mostly anyway). Losing allows us to question every decision made. It’s the one right we retain because we’ve lost the right to brag about winning any more.
The problem is that no-one is willing to admit their argument is capable of being remotely wrong, or even allow for some kind of give and take. It’s like we’ve all become Siths who speak only in absolutes: either you’re with us, or against us. Nuance is dead.
And before you say it, I’m hardly immune or innocent here. I’ve engaged in heated battles about the value of Robbo versus Neil Henry, and on who is worse this year: Ferguson or Burgess. I’ve been snarky, sarcastic to a fault and more stubborn than an old stuck drawer. I know I’m not 100 per cent right, but all week I’ve been unwilling to concede a single argument, or even a fraction of one. And there’s been a shitload of arguments.
There’s been a club legend defending his son to a fan, and the fan base split on either defending the legend or attacking him. That was followed by the legend leaking the news about his son being dropped and the fan base again dividing over the merits of his axing. The legend then had a dig at other current players who should face the axe, and the fan base again picked sides and went at it like drunken rams over whether those comments were simply a father sticking up for his son, or a father damaging his son’s chances at a recall down the line and dividing the team in the process.
There’s been fans calling for Robbo to answer for the club’s performances, and others that have defended the rebuilding process. There’s been those who have called for patience with some of the players and others demanding their axing.
Some have called it a spade, others a shovel. No-one can agree on the colour of a fresh turd.
Glasses are half empty all over the place, but half of those glasses are half emptier than others — and if you disagree, then get stuffed.
It’s a rift in the fan base, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it at Easts. For revisionist’s sake, I wasn’t on Twitter nor engaged on Facebook prior to the start of 2013. I missed the horrors of 2009 and the perceived ones of 2012. This is all fresh, like the first time you see road kill: eventually I imagine I’ll become desensitised to it all but for now: WHOA.
No-one is happy. In fact, it’s the unhappiest it’s been among the fans in a while. Our good friend Jonny Tobin (not) over at Twitter explained it:
He also said something just as clear that makes a ton of sense in the current climate:
He’s right. We all have a right to our side of the argument, and all have a right to defend our point of opinion. Debate is good. It’s passionate. It’s what makes sport sport, and in losing times it becomes heated. Losing sucks. Rationale goes out the window.
Losing means that you say Tomato on Twitter and I say Tomato on Twitter and we get into a battle about how we just pronounced it even though it’s exactly the same when typed. It doesn’t matter. We’re just angry and we want to get the shit out. The release is good, in a way. We need it because the only true cure is winning. Or a light at the end of the tunnel at the very least. Until then, this is likely the norm and the release is akin to the need to sweat on a hot day.
So… what is hell is the point of this article, you ask?
For once this week, there is no point to be made. This article is utterly pointless. It’s a rant on ranting, if you need to label it anything.
This week just had to go on the record somewhere as one of the more enlightening, maddening, galling and fascinating weeks to be a Roosters fan on social media, and especially on Twitter. It ought to be appreciated, if only for the absurdity of it all and if only so we can laugh about it at that time in the future when we’ve forgotten what it’s like to lose on this scale.
And maybe that future isn’t that far away? As our good pal Ramirez Jnr said on Twitter before all the Hastings rumours dropped and shit REALLY hit the fan (so to speak):
That enough light for ya?