We Loved You Really, Ronaldo


By Mark Simpson (col­lec­ted in Metrosexy)

Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best foot­ballers ever to play in this coun­try — and one of the best look­ing — brought out the worst in the English.

He prickled you see, our ugly, mean-minded, spite­ful, spit­ting jeal­ousy. We were jeal­ous of his tal­ent, his looks, his body, his youth, his money and most of all of his total lack of interest in what the English media and ter­race cul­ture thought of him and his dress sense and the way they kept shout­ing ‘winker!’, ‘poof!’, ‘twink­le­toes!!’ to try and get his attention.

It just made us even more fren­zied and pas­sion­ate and help­less that the way we obsessed over everything about him from the dark­ness of his tan to the size of his beach shorts meant noth­ing to him. He ignored our stalker­ish beha­viour, and our play­ground bul­ly­ing, and just kept on being Cristiano. He didn’t need us. He didn’t even bloody notice us. He was hot. He knew he was hot. And worst of all, there was noth­ing we could do about it. No won­der we hated him.

And now it seems he’s leav­ing us behind for good – and will prob­ably for­get about us before he even lands in Madrid. The bas­tard!

Our most pop­u­lar tabloid The Sun has run a par­tic­u­larly bitchy cam­paign against him for years. Most recently, they devoted pages of phoney out­rage to the fact that he wore a pink base­ball cap on hol­i­day in LA, and had the effrontery to wear a flower in his ear. Apparently he’s also per­son­ally to blame for turn­ing today’s pro foot­ballers into met­ro­sexu­als and is the evil ‘queen’ behind what they like to call ‘The Campions League’.

In short, Ronaldo has been on the receiv­ing end of abuse that would be deemed ‘homo­phobic’ in a trice if it were dir­ec­ted at someone actu­ally gay. But this isn’t just homo­pho­bia in the form of met­ro­pho­bia, this is good old English hypo­crisy at work: The Sun exploits the way young foot­ballers look today to sell papers, filling their pages almost daily with pic­tures of them being tarty – and then of course damns them for mak­ing us look at them.

Ronaldo united the English in ways that few other things do these days. The editor of snooty Esquire for instance, a magazine that likes to see itself as being the oppos­ite end of the media and social spec­trum to The Sun, recently joined in the national gang bang of Ronaldo, tak­ing aim at his pretty pout­ing face in a piece sniff­ing at the vul­gar­ity of English foot­ballers, and the way they ‘pile on the designer labels with gay aban­don (Ronaldo), accessor­ise with far too many sparkly things (Ronaldo) and haven’t yet dis­covered that logos a go-go have gone out of fash­ion (Ronaldo).’

Yes dear, but Ronaldo has more nat­ural beauty, sex­i­ness and vital­ity in his left foot than a hun­dred back issues of Esquire – a magazine that would bene­fit enorm­ously from a little vul­gar­ity: I mean, it might be mis­taken for some­thing actu­ally alive. It’s prob­ably Ronaldo’s ‘gay aban­don’ which is the most won­der­ful and insuf­fer­able thing about him to the English. After all, it’s the sign that someone is genu­inely free – they genu­inely don’t care what the neighbours/bloke down the pub/The Sun/Esquire think, and they do and wear what they like, damn them.

This is also prob­ably the reason why he was hated so much for his on-pitch naugh­ti­ness – not so much the cheat­ing itself, but the brazen­ness of it. The flam­boy­ance of it! Ronaldo was hated and envied because he broke the rules in plain view. And could behave like a spoilt child. The English you see can never for­give someone for doing pub­licly what they have to spend so much time and energy hiding.

As Ronaldo said, matter-of-factly, in response to the English media’s frenzy over the pink hat with the flower: ‘I don’t see what is wrong with that if you are com­fort­able with your sexu­al­ity.’ But the English aren’t com­fort­able, Ronaldo. In any sense. Don’t remind us of it!.

David Beckham man­aged, more or less, to get away with sarongs and nail pol­ish and worse. But that was partly because Beckham wasn’t as tal­en­ted a foot­baller as Ronaldo, wasn’t as pretty, or as young – and, unlike Ronaldo, was very, very con­cerned with hand­ling the English press and his pub­lic image: he really cared about us and what we thought, and so was gen­er­ally regarded as ‘nice’. Most import­antly, in the end Becks was English. He may have been a tart, but he was our tart (though at the moment he appears to be Mr Armani’s.)

The prob­lem with Portuguese Ronaldo, and the reason ulti­mately why he was so resen­ted and the tar­get of such pas­sion­ate ambi­val­ence, was that he wasn’t ours. He was always only on loan – which is why whenever rumours of a move abroad sur­faced the hate cam­paign in the press would reach new, trem­u­lous heights.

But now he’s really going. And we’re really going to miss him. But being English, the way we’ll express that is by say­ing: ‘Good rid­dance, you WINKER!!’

Copyright Mark Simpson 2009

Why The Sun Can’t Leave Ronaldo’s Legs Alone

Ere, Ron, The Sun’s just texted me. They want to know if you’ve got any smal­ler shorts.”

Britain’s best-selling news­pa­per The Sun has been work­ing itself into a con­fused lather about our met­ro­sexual foot­ballers, again. Like me, it just can’t leave them alone.

In a long, hand-wringing — and graph­ic­ally illus­trated — art­icle spread over the centre pages last Friday head­lined ‘Preen Team’ they ask ‘What the hell is going on with our footballers?’

Led by the Premier League’s arch-metrosexual Cristiano Ronaldo, foot­ball has this sum­mer gone camper than a row of tents.

This week Ronaldo con­tin­ued his hol­i­day tour by hanging out in a pair of tight sil­ver shorts in LA — and had the world’s gay men com­ing over all funny.

Er no, it had The Sun com­ing over all funny. For much of the sum­mer, The Sun has been stalk­ing Portuguese Ronaldo, the best foot­baller in the UK and also one of the best look­ing, who is cur­rently con­vales­cing after an injury (hence the unflat­ter­ing blue foot­wear), try­ing to exploit his cur­rent unpop­ular­ity — the res­ult of his plans to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid, and his fail­ure to keep them, like his hot oiled bod, under wraps.

Like a jeal­ous, spurned suitor, The Sun (along with most of the Brit tabloids) has been bitch­ing and beat­ing him up over his dark (Portuguese) tan, his shorts, his good looks — and his lack of apo­logy for them. And try­ing to imply he is girly and, what is the same thing in their book, homo.

And who can blame him for want­ing to leave the UK, where the biggest paper behaves like a school-ground bully with sexual iden­tity issues? They’ve even pub­lished pic­tures of him smil­ing at a mate (who appears to be his brother), telling us that he’s cruis­ing him. And I thought I had bum­sex on the brain.

In a famil­iar trick, they’ve given space to the editor of ‘Britain’s best-selling gay magazine’ to gush about what a ‘gay idol’ Ronaldo is. Otherwise known as guilt by asso­ci­ation. At the same time as prov­ing they’re ‘not homo­phobic’ because they let the king of poofs have his say.

Friday’s art­icle goes one step fur­ther and seems to blame Ronaldo for mak­ing an entire gen­er­a­tion of foot­ballers gay. I know he has nice legs, but I doubt even those pins have that kind of power.

But a perfectly-waxed chest and budgie smug­gling shorts are just the tip of the iceberg.

A sun invest­ig­a­tion has found the man­bag and groom­ing obses­sion is rife among our highly-paid stars.

As you may have sus­pec­ted, it turns out that this ‘invest­ig­a­tion’ is just another excuse for lots of pics of young foot­ballers without much on. An excuse even smal­ler than Ron’s sil­ver shorts.

Though I can’t help but poke fun at The Sun’s hissy list of the met­ro­sexual offences of our footie aces:

Chelsea ace Frank Lampard refused to go any­where this sum­mer without his sal­mon pink vest and match­ing shorts.

(Which we’ve Photoshopped to make look even pinker and gayer, just as we’ve done with Ronaldo’s tan to make him look even darker and even more of a girly dago.)

He has also been lug­ging around wife Elen Rives’ fuch­sia handbag.

I think it suits Fabulous Frankie and he should nick it off her.

Italian World Cup win­ner Fabio Cannavaro actu­ally SHAVED his mate’s chest and armpits on the deck of their hol­i­day yacht this week in a show of shame­less male bonding.

Actually SHAVED his mate’s chest and armpits? No! Well, I never! The shame­less­ness of it!

And Liverpool and Spain striker Fernando Torres spent most of last month by the pool with an Alice band in his hair while leaf­ing through life­style magazines.

You can bet he wasn’t read­ing The Sun.

Ah, for the days of foot­ball when men were men and soap was never scen­ted — or dropped. Right on cue The Sun wheels out 1970s foot­baller Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, to whinge about how in his day he got paid ten bob a week, cut his own hair with garden shears, ate gravel, and beat up poofs on sight (or so you’d be for­given for think­ing). Interesting that The Sun didn’t ask retired ‘hard­man’ Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock back to play this role, after he failed to deliver the poof-baiting goods in a recent pre­vi­ous Sun art­icle bemoan­ing the gay­ness of today’s foot­ball.

How The Sun loves to keep com­ing back to this theme of metro V retro, pre­tend­ing of course to be on the side of ret­ro­sexu­al­ity against, well, homo­sexu­al­ity. Partly this is because it ima­gines that ret­ro­sexu­al­ity is syn­onym­ous with ‘work­ing class’ — tra­di­tion­ally the major­ity of this tab’s read­er­ship — because The Sun is now edited by expens­ively edu­cated types who are fak­ing it.

By pos­ing as cham­pi­ons of ‘Chopper’ Harris they present them­selves as con­nec­ted to that stoic pro­let­arian tra­di­tion they actu­ally have noth­ing to do with, and today’s con­sumer­ist, sen­sual, closet­ted metro Sun is a mil­lion fake-tanned miles from.

I sus­pect read­ers under the age of 30 that they know they des­per­ately need to attract if they are to have any future at all, let alone con­tinue to sell mil­lions every day, are mostly turned off by this con­fused and con­flic­ted met­ro­phobic bul­ly­ing, how­ever jokey it’s presen­ted as being. Especially those from a work­ing class back­ground. Why? Because they will prob­ably see it as dir­ec­ted against them.

When repeatedly adopt­ing this kind of cor, strewth, look at the poof­tahs foot­ballers are today! tone, The Sun just sounds like their night­mare fat dad.

Or me.

Intentionally or not, this time the space given to the editor of Attitude to twit­ter about fash­ion and male free­dom and foot­ballers show­ing the way makes that gay mag sound much more in tune with younger Sun read­ers than The Sun itself.

Tip: Dave Harley

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Touchy-Feely Footballers

By Mark Simpson (Guardian CIF, 30/11/07)

In an age of broad­band hard­core it’s rather sweet to dis­cover that men are still so eas­ily aroused. At least, that is, foot­ball fans and tabloid journalists.

A little inno­cent hand-holding by Liverpool FC dur­ing a team-building train­ing ses­sion before their cru­cial Champions League match with Porto worked the Sun into a frenzy this week. ‘Koppin’ Off’ screamed the Sun head­line, next to a pic­ture of Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard chastely hold­ing hands, with the sub­title ‘So this is what they mean by “train­ing camp”??’

Those log­ging on with moisten­ing palms to the Sun’s web­site were treated to a ‘slide show’ of other mem­bers of Liverpool FC hold­ing hands with mood-enhancing cap­tions like ‘Chase me, chase me!’ and ‘Ere, is that the fairy across the Mersey?’.

In fact, the Sun was so excited by this non-story it returned to it yes­ter­day, wheel­ing in early 90s Liverpool ‘hard­man’ foot­baller Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock to stick it to the nancy boys, by-lining a piece head­lined, ‘What’s next… make-up and pink strips?’

At first Ruddock duti­fully tries to play the ‘hard­man’ role the Sun has cast him in: ‘It cer­tainly wouldn’t have happened in my day, he says. ‘I’d have found it too embar­rass­ing and a bit girly.’

But then he begins to lose the plot: ‘The only time we would have held hands with another player is on the way back from the pub after a few drinks.’

No, no, no! You”re really let­ting the side down now, hard­man! Where’s your… rigid­ity? The whole point of get­ting so pissed with the lads is so that you don’t remem­ber what you did on the way home and cer­tainly don’t write about it in a national newspaper.

But Neil can’t help him­self: ‘In our day, we did all our team-building in the pub. When a new player joined it was straight down the pub for a few bevies… It did the trick and the new lads soon bed­ded in.’

Bedded in?? Was that before or after hold­ing your hand on the way back from the pub?

Neil tries to get back ‘on mes­sage’, but then he’s off again, giv­ing us far too much inform­a­tion: ‘But it’s no longer a hardman’s game. John Terry and Frank Lampard now shave their body hair off.… It’s a Continental thing… When I was at West Ham Paulo Di Canio shaved off all his hair apart from the stuff on his head.’

I’m sure if he asked them nicely and made it clear how much you pre­ferred your foot­ballers furry they’d let their body hair grow for the ‘Razor’.

He goes on: ‘Players use sun­beds and wax their chests and under-arm hair. What’s next? Make-up? Pink strips?’.

Get up to speed mate. The Sun already told us a few months back that Manchester United have had to rebuild their player’s chan­ging rooms to make their lock­ers big enough to ‘accom­mod­ate their man­bags’ filled with ‘more cos­met­ics than their WAGS’.

Then, finally, he con­fesses: ‘Mind you, if I was offered £120,000 a week like some of the top stars are on now I would hold Peter Crouch’s hand — or any­one else’s for that matter.’

Yes, which reminds me Neil, how much were you paid to be Pete Burn’s bitch on Wife Swap?

Maybe it’s the fear of another tongue-lashing from real hard­man Pete Burns that’s respons­ible for Ruddock’s endear­ing fail­ure to deliver the queerbash­ing goods here and go a bit… limp. Compared the Sun’s first report, and, sadly, many foot­ball fans, he seems to go out of his way not to chas­tise the Liverpool play­ers for their ‘poovery’ — and talks instead rather mildly about how hold­ing hands is ‘a bit girly’. (At least, that is, when you’re sober.)

Or per­haps he was wor­ried someone might find some pics of those dirty great big sloppy snogs he and the lads used to give one another after every goal back in the good old manly days of soc­cer. Followed, fre­quently, by what looked very much like a team gang-bang on the ground.

Today’s met­ro­sexual young foot­ballers — per­haps because they look so ‘gay’ — are vestal vir­gins with one another by com­par­ison. They prac­tic­ally shake hands and exchange busi­ness cards.

On the other hand, per­haps they don’t snog each other wildly after a goal these days because unlike Ruddock’s ret­ro­sexual gen­er­a­tion, they don’t need that spe­cial excuse — or have to be dosed with gal­lons of beer down the pub — to actu­ally show affec­tion towards other men. Many of them prob­ably kiss one another when meet­ing and bid­ding farewell, like Becks - ‘It’s a Continental thing’). This after all is a gen­er­a­tion of straight lads who send text mes­sages to other lads peppered with kisses at the end. And to be hon­est, this old poof­tah finds that a bit girly himself.

It seems though that hold­ing hands sober, whatever the Sun or Ruddock thought of it, worked a treat. Liverpool won the game against Porto 4–1.

Copyright Mark Simpson 2007

The Sun newspaper — how gay is it?


Why is Britain’s best-selling, sau­ci­est tabloid so unsure of its sexuality?

Mark Simpson, the Guardian (August 24, 2007)

The Sun’s TV critic Ally Ross is an unhappy camper. You see, he’s always bitch­ing about TV being ‘too gay’. Which is a rather pecu­liar thing for a TV critic to com­plain about. Perhaps his dad wanted him to be a (much less well paid) sports writer.

Last Friday, he proved what a pugil­ist he is by lay­ing into the recently launched ITV Anthony Cotton day­time chat show, and by attack­ing all things poovey on telly. He con­cluded with his 0ver-familiar refrain: ‘TV is way too camp, i.e. gay and rub­bish, for its own good’. At the end of a column simply chocka with catty claw­ings and rub­bish campery.

In fact, so keen is big butch Ross (who likes to pose as the Test Card Girl above his byline) to straighten out telly and get rid of gays and gay­ness, in an unre­lated piece about Big Brother on the same page, recount­ing how one male con­test­ant was lov­ingly describ­ing women as ‘tits, baps, breasts, erm, womb people’, he inter­rupts this red-blooded rev­erie with: ‘cuts to Gerry (the gay Greek con­test­ant) fan­tas­ising about the Greek Army.’ Thanks for that straight thought, Ally.

Actually, I agree. TV is too ‘gay’ and camp and rub­bish. But so are you, Ally dearie. And so, these days, is the Sun. Though, like its TV critic, it seems rather con­fused and conflicted.

In the same issue, read­ers were treated to another gra­tu­it­ous ‘gay’ fantasy titled ‘Brokeback Putin’ — a spread of shirt­less snaps of Russian President Vladimir Putin and (fully clothed) Prince Albert of Monaco on a blokey fish­ing hol­i­day, com­plete with ‘camp’ cap­tions that try to por­tray him as homo (and there­fore ridicu­lous and impot­ent): ‘Oooh Vlad, I’ve got a tid­dler’ ‘Here let me hold it Albert’. Er, calm down will you? They’re just fish­ing.

The Sun’s breath­less, squeal­ing addic­tion to rub­bish, dated campery — and its cam­paign to con­vince us all that ‘camp’ is exactly the same thing as ‘gay’ and that of course male homo­sexu­al­ity is a form of emas­cu­la­tion — is lit­er­ally per­verse. Even more than most papers, the Sun is des­per­ate to attract young read­ers — read­ers who don’t share that early 1970s world­view, not least because they weren’t even born in the 1970s. Headlines like “Hello Sailor!”, the mock­ing front page that greeted the Navy’s recent decision to act­ively recruit gays and les­bi­ans, are limp Dick Emery imit­a­tions that no one under forty-five is going to get. In the same pink and fluffy Sun-speak vein, any out gay male celebrity, regard­less of their demean­our, is instantly given a new first name — ‘Camp’.

Then there’s Sun gos­sip colum­nist Victoria Newton’s creepy end­less ‘Gay-O-Meter’ obses­sion with comedian David Walliams. Every time he’s pho­to­graphed social­ising with a woman the meter reads STRAIGHT (col­oured blue). Every time he’s pho­to­graphed with a bloke it goes into GAY (col­oured pink). I thought that the whole point of gos­sip colum­nists was that they got out more.

But hang on a minute. Isn’t social­ising with women girly and ‘gay’? Isn’t drink­ing with your male mates (or, for that mat­ter, going fish­ing) some­thing that a proper bloke is sup­posed to do? Isn’t the Sun actu­ally queer­ing things rather than straight­en­ing them out?

In fact, at the risk of it explod­ing in your face, that Gay-O-Meter should be turned on the Sun itself — a news­pa­per that is nowadays just a daily edi­tion of girly gos­sip rag Heat magazine with some news about espe­cially vain celebrit­ies who hap­pen to play sport at the back. A recent Sun item revealed how Man United were remod­el­ling their player’s chan­ging rooms and lock­ers to ‘acco­mod­ate their man­bags’ which appar­ently are full of ‘more cos­met­ics than their WAGs’.

There is though a dif­fer­ence between Heat magazine and the Sun: there’s much more queer sex in the Sun. Point the Gay-O-Meter, if you dare, at the Sun’s agony aunt sec­tion with its daily ‘les­bian lust’ con­fes­sions and ‘am I gay?’ let­ters (not writ­ten, I hasten to add, by their TV critic). Illustrated with photo-porn novel strips of naked women and men with equally desir­able, equally undressed bod­ies get­ting into messy love tri­angles and even messier three­somes of every pos­sible per­muta­tion. Or all those ‘Footie Studs in Sordid Roasting Vid Scandal!’ (see centre pages for full col­our spread) news stories.

The Sun is obsessed with ‘camp’ and ‘gay­ness’ for the same reason telly is — because pop­u­lar cul­ture is. The reason it’s so con­flic­ted and con­fused is partly because of its own very recent past as an out-and-out queerbash­ing daily, and partly because the expens­ively edu­cated people who now edit the Sun, most of whom I’m sure have lots of gay friends and even more camp straight friends, are wor­ried about being sussed by the ‘chav’ read­ers they con­des­cend to (‘chav’ is a favour­ite Sun word). It doesn’t appear to occur to them that their read­ers’ atti­tudes might have changed more than their own.

Then again, per­haps the Sun is so con­fused because it’s being doing too much spin­ning around in sequins. I can reveal that accord­ing to ‘sources close to the Sun’ they recently all went on a ‘team-building’ week­end in some camp sea­side resort. The team-building task? Ballroom dan­cing.

I won­der if their TV critic’s team won?

I (Still) Want Your sex: The Sun & George Michael’s privates

In case you thought I was jok­ing when I wrote about the gen­tle­men of the British press being unable to leave George Michael’s penis alone, today’s Sun news­pa­per, twis­ted sis­ter tabloid to the News of the World scan­dal sheet that ran the ori­ginal front page Hampstead Heath expose, provides fur­ther, lurid proof of the ser­i­ous­ness of their pas­sion­ate fascination.

In a tor­rid piece snap­pily titled ‘Are there no depths George won’t plumb in pur­suit of lust?’ by Kelvin Mackenzie, a former editor of the best-selling paper, and legendary fig­ure in the world of tabloid news­pa­pers, we learn that it isn’t just his penis that they can’t leave alone. It’s also his balls.

I can’t stand George Michael,’ McKenzie informs us, ‘and every time he tries to laugh off another vile gay sex exploit I dis­like him a little more…’

Oh, come now, the lady doth protest too much. Go on, admit it, Kelvin, you love him!

Mackenzie goes on to whine at length about how he is per­son­ally affron­ted and dis­gus­ted by the fact that George Micheal can have no-strings sex when he wants it — for free — and, even worse, that his part­ner doesn’t mind. All in all, it is quite insuf­fer­able, isn’t it? Well, it is if you look like Kelvin Mackenzie.

Alas, sexual jeal­ousy can be an ugly, viol­ent, even mur­der­ous thing.  Amplifying and in fact spelling out the NOTW’s crim­inal incite­ment fantasy about Michael hav­ing ‘his throat cut’, Mackenzie writes:

… one day I sus­pect Michael will come a ter­rible crop­per pur­su­ing his sexu­al­ity.  There are some nasty people around.’

Indeed there are, Kelvin.

A few para­graphs later, at the end of the piece we dis­cover where those nasty people are. And they’re not on Hampstead Heath. They’re writ­ing for The Sun:

Personally, I’d like to give him a good kick in the balls.  Unfortunately he’d prob­ably enjoy it.’

But not as much as you do writ­ing about his privates, Kelvin.

Mackenzie has a lot of pre­vi­ous in this area. He’s a bit of a gay sex pest.  Actually, he’s a major gay sex pest. He was after all the editor of The Sun dur­ing it’s ‘hey­day’ in the Eighties, when it was utterly obsessed with gay men and their sex-lives and did its best to whip up hatred for homos — give them ‘a good kick­ing in the balls’ — and por­tray AIDS as a ‘gay plague’ which queers richly deserved because of their promiscuity.

Because, in other words, they were hav­ing too much fun.

Yes, there are some really nasty people around.