The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of A Letter To The Editor About Football Hooliganism. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
The public’s opinion of this stereotypical image of rampant football fans has been strengthened by the media with the use of news reports, documentaries, and newspaper articles, but is it important how these are presented to the public?
Macentyre investigates (a documentary in which John Macentyre explores the lives of football hooligans) and The Daily Star’s presentation of Eric Cantona’s reaction to racial taunts by a fan are two clear examples of media which have both been carefully orchestrated to strongly influence the opinion of the public, and show that there is more to football than 22 players kicking a ball around a field.
The still image of Cantona hurdling a barrier has been deliberately edited to have a forceful impact on the opinion of the reader.
Cantona’s aggression, determination and skill are displayed to the reader in this photograph due to the fact that the editor has kept the advertising barrier in the shot. It proves that Cantona’s adrenaline must have been running high in order for him to jump over such a large barrier and kick somebody in the chest. The display of his athleticism is boosted by the letters on the barrier being large, white letters, making the barrier appear large.
The Macentyre visual presentation also displays the skill of the hooligans by including long range CCTV footage of numerous fights that have broken out between fans of rival clubs.
On one occasion, a football fan hits a fan from a rival football club with a large iron bar, giving the impression that he is strong and powerful.
Power is an aspect that is focused on greatly in the documentary; a fish eye lens that is looking up at the hooligan being interviewed is used. This may have been because the camera needed to be hidden, or it could have been done on purpose to make the hooligans seem more forceful and vigorous. This image is increased with scenes of the hooligans driving in large, fast cars and throughout the programme, and the sound is slightly distorted, making the hooligans’ voices sound deep and forceful.
The editor of the video has later added non-diegetic sounds. The documentary consistently contains daunting music that engages the audience and amplifies the terror that is taking place. There is also a lot of diegetic sound that has been included; when the hooligans are being interviewed in the pub there is a lot of shouting and cheering in the background. When the hooligans are at the football ground, the sounds of a riot taking place can be heard continuously.
The photograph of Cantona is a medium shot with the camera at a low level. It may have been like this for a specific reason; the photographer may of only wanted to include the player and the members of the crowd who were looking at Cantona to sharpen the focus on him. But it is also likely that the photographer would not of had time to calculate the shot of this spontaneous act of hooliganism, and so would of hurriedly pointed his/her camera in the direction of the incident and taken the photo.
Although the still image is in black and white, this contrast provides enough colour to influence the impression that the photograph creates. The picture is lighter at the bottom and fades into black at the top. The attention of the reader is drawn to the large letters at the bottom of the picture and the large no.7 on Cantona’s back, sharpening the focus on Cantona. As admitted by a self confessed hooligan in the Macentyre video, the more experienced hooligans hide at the back of the back of the stands and stay protected, while the newer hooligans are vulnerable at the front. Because the photograph is darker at the top, it appears that the experienced hooligans seem to be hiding under the cover of darkness and getting away with abusing Cantona, while the louder, inexperienced hooligans continually abuse Cantona and draw the attention of the target.
The picture contains two types of people, player and fan. The fans differ in age and appearance, but all show facial expressions of shock in different ways. When the picture is quickly looked at, as it would be by most readers of The Daily Star, the reader would notice the members of the crowd who are covering their faces or have their mouths wide open in shock. The photograph contains no officials or stewards, showing that the attack was not anticipated. On the left of the picture, there is a hand that is trying to stop Cantona from carrying out the attack. But this person can do nothing, Cantona is too determined and out of control.
Similarly, the Macentyre documentary contains few shots of police officers controlling the hooligans, showing that they too are out of control. Also, the editor has left out images of the supporters wearing football strips, and in the Cantona photograph there is not single fan wearing a football strip either. This makes the fans look like a stereotypical football hooligan and although the fans in the still image may be supporting different teams, they are united by the casual uniform that they are wearing and gives the impression that Cantona is on his own against the terraces.
The caption at the bottom of the article forms the bottom 20% of the page, and this is another of the first things that the reader would notice when reading this newspaper. It contains the statement: ‘The Daily Star Says’ in capital letters, which gives the impression that the Daily Star is expressing their opinion openly. This statement is followed by a variation of the popular saying ‘when the shit hits the fan.’ It contains an expletive in which three of the letters have been replaced by punctuation marks, but it is still clear to the reader what the word is because the ‘S’ remains and the ‘i’ is replaced by an exclamation mark, which is an inverted i. The phrase has been deliberately engineered to have a double meaning; if the question mark is removed, it refers directly to Cantona as a shit. When it is left in, the phrase questions Cantona’s actions.
The semantic field of war is clearly present throughout the documentary. When arranging the fights, the hooligans refer to their associates as ‘their army’ and ‘soldiers’. Similar to a war, the people in the video are shown equipping themselves with weapons, such as guns and knives. This shows how serious the hooligans are, and the lengths they are prepared to go to when they reach the terraces. The entire video seems to be like a war; it is known where the two sides will meet, both sides are prejudice because of where the other comes from and they are all prepared to kill.
The Macentyre documentary and The Daily Star’s presentation of the Cantona incident are different types of media, but with careful editing they both give out the same message to the viewing public about football hooliganism.