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It’s hard not to think of the final scene of “Homer Badman,” when the Simpson family are watching trashy TV show “Rock Bottom.” The show has admitted that Homer is innocent of the accusations made against him after hours of hounding him, so it turns its attention to Groundskeeper Willie instead, trumping up the charged against him, building towards another flimsy moral panic.
“That man is sick!” Homer says, when he sees Willy dramatized on screen. When Marge insists that hang on, he’s the one that saved you, Homer replies “but listen to the music! He’s evil!”
In the editorial (or is it a sermon?), Hazard is accused of laughing. Not with his friends, but at Madrid. In a monologue punctuated with heavy sighs, he is accused of spending “two years taking the piss out of Madridisimo.” Of costing €100 million and being overweight, of getting a chance he didn’t deserve. Of being, God dammit, “another Bale”. There’s a touch of the Danny De Vito: “Is something funny?” There was a touch of the TV evangelist too, building to a shouting crescendo.
“Hazard,” Josep Pedrerol says, gavel coming down, guillotine falling, “cannot continue a minute longer at Real Madrid.”
Hazard, left, was peripheral against Chelsea, as he’s arguably been for much of his time at Real Madrid. Steve Bardens – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
Now, briefly, before going on: €100m? It was actually more like €160m, per more credible reports in Belgium than the figures offered by Madrid. Another Bale? Over 100 goals, two league titles and four Champions Leagues, you mean? Nah, probably not. Half a Bale would be quite something. Hazard has scored four goals for Real Madrid. If we count his penalty in the shoot-out in Milan, Bale has scored that many goals just in European Cup finals. But anyway, that’s not really the point. Except that it sort of is, because it says something about how narratives and bad guys are made.
So, is there something funny to it all? Well, yes… And no. On one level, this was just “El Chiringuito” doing what “El Chiringuito” does: a shouty, silly show, a mass debate where it’s all over-the-top faux anger, confrontation and posturing, like a footballing Wrestlemania. It’s a successful model imported from Spain’s salsa rosa gossip shows, where the lives of assorted “celebrities” of varying degrees of fame and talent are endlessly argued over, tiny morsels turned into huge scavenging feasts. It would be easy to dismiss “El Chiringuito.” It’s tempting, too; it might be sensible to ignore it, or just laugh at it. To insist that it, like what Hazard did on Wednesday night, doesn’t really matter.