Five Questions… is a new series where we ask five questions about something in the news, come on. I mean: come on. It's not that hard to get your head around, is it? Come on. This is not a nuanced concept.
Until this morning (10:26AM GMT) the most harrowing video I've ever had to watch was some documentary footage of a lad getting shot in the heart, instant death. I don't really know why this was on BBC One, or why I was still awake watching it, or why at eight years old my parents didn't see the events unfolding on the screen – a lad having his arms pinned back by armed guards; out here in the jungle, the lawless lands; hessian sack over his head; begging for his life, "please," he cried, "my brother—", and then, crack like a whip, the shot – and, like, stop me watching it, because I was eight, but I watched it, and he died instantly, and it was horrible. Just a single thin trickle of blood – but the bad blood, the black blood – leaking out of his heart.
My impression of me, aged eight, reacting to that: "AHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHH! [INDISTINCT CRYING NOISES]! AHHHHH! [MORE, SUSTAINED, STILL INDISTINGUISHABLE CRYING NOISES]! [LOUD SOBBING]! HE'S DEAD!" I had to be sent to bed to calm down. I'm still not sure I'm over it.
Anyway, that is now #2 on the list and this is #1:
Yeah I have some questions:
IS THIS THE MOST COMPLICATED EXPRESSION OF FATHERLY LOVE EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, NOT EVEN THE WORLD, THE UNIVERSE
As best I can tell this entire video is a song from a dad to his son saying that the moment he was born he… knew he… was going… to like Tottenham? Because the dad really likes Tottenham. So review: you love Tottenham, and your son, so much you made a video about it. Okay.
Being a dad is hard, I imagine. All those feelings of paternal pride, the need to protect, the urge to see them made in the image of you but better, watch as your children grow, hope they become the version of you that you always wanted to be but never dared to, that at some point you stop making them proud and they make you proud instead, there is no love like it. But also most men express love to their children by shouting about turning the lights off and silently drinking six cans of Guinness in front of the TV every night, so. It's very double-edged.
This video, I think, is possibly the weirdest expression of fatherhood ever in history. It's like the son-love can only be expressed when tacked on to the football-love, like a parasite on a human brain. I love you, my boy, my sweet, sweet Tottenham boy. But I also really love Danny Rose. It's complex, and baffling, and it will almost certainly condemn the boy in question to about a decade of good bullying. I do not understand why it has been made. The whole thing is very "your mum and me are getting divorced, son, but I've got a cracker of an idea as to what we can do on weekends", isn't it.
COULD THEY NOT GET A REAL BABY, NO
If you can't get a real baby, don't have a baby in the video. That's like rule one. Rule two is don't make this video at all, but that's rule one. Rule three is: sir, please, do not dab. About 20 seconds into this video, you realise that this isn't quite the high gloss ultra-production video it seems like, and it is actually nine grown men walking near to but not actually on the pitch at White Hart Lane, holding a toy baby, faces painted, all of this on a week day, I'm presuming, and I'm guessing for this kind of access they all will have had to book at least a morning off work. At some point you just have to admit this is nine lads doing the most embarrassing thing it is possible for nine men to do together. I think I would rather walk in on nine adult men playing "Soggy Biscuit" than watch this video again. I'd rather watch panto.
DISCUSS FOR FIVE POINTS THE SHEER EMBARRASSMENT OF SINCERELY LIKING FOOTBALL
Men are bad at having emotions, but they have all the same emotional energy as a normal person, so there is a blockade. I know this. Think of it like this: emotions are a shit, but before they come out as well-formed turds, they are for a while a sort of slurry of potential-turd. Men have bellies full of emotional potential but they don't have the toolset to properly turd it out as a fully-formed emotion, but eventually that energy has to come out somewhere, somehow, and at that point it comes out wrong. You know the old care home horror story, about an old guy who forgot how to shit, and forgot how to shit and forgot how to shit, until one day, through an intricate system of backing-up, shit came out of his mouth? That is actually a very neat analogy for men having emotions. They try to have them, but they can't, so when they do eventually burst out of their bodies they come out so wrong and distorted it is almost a crime. That's sort of what this video about Spurs is. It's an old man shitting out his mouth, trying with all his might to have an emotion.
As – full disclosure – an Arsenal fan, I've long held the theory that sincerely liking football or in any way identifying part of yourself with a love of football is possibly the most embarrassing thing a person can do. But I also very much understand how football liking is analogous to having a real emotion: every time I get mad at Arsène Wenger, or frustrated as Mesut Özil, or pathetically tell myself one day Rob Holding will be good, am I really, actively, enjoying football? Or am I projecting my real emotions on to a series of highly paid men who frequently and consistently let me down? Have I ever, truly, been happy for years? Or are all my highs and lows tied intrinsically to the league form of a team of millionaires? Do I feel full-contact anger any more, or rage? Or have all those emotions been replaced by Mathieu Debuchy?
THAT SAID: HOW CAN WE BE SURE THIS ISN'T A DEEP UNDERCOVER ARSENAL OPERATION
I say this because two things are going right for Spurs at the moment: i. they are the ascendant team in north London, finishing higher in the league than Arsenal and qualifying for Champions League football ahead of them; and ii. their fans are not as embarrassing as Arsenal fans, because nobody's fans are as embarrassing as Arsenal fans; Arsenal fans have scaled a dizzyingly high embarrassment mountain and it will take a monumental effort to shift them from that peak. I mean:
So all Tottenham have to do to maintain position as the least embarrassing team in north London is to not make a Lion King-themed video about how much they love Tottenham and also their son, My Sweet Large Tottenham Boy. Like, that's literally all they had to do, was to not make this video. But they made this video. And that makes me question whether or not it was an inside job.
Ask yourself: what kind of addled mind would make a high-gloss over-produced video, at actual White Hart Lane, with a load of lads in vintage and non-vintage kits, singing "Victor Wanyama" and holding a doll baby up to the searing light of the sun, all in some complicated way of expressing wholesome love for a football team? I will tell you what kind of mind: an Arsenal fan's mind. Arsenal fans' minds are contorted and misshapen things. Being a fan of Arsenal is a complicated disease of the brain. One of two things has happened here: an Arsenal fan has used their sincerity for evil, and broken out of the yoke of the Emirates, and made this video as some sort of long-con embarrassment to Spurs; or, actually no, Tottenham fans have caught up with Arsenal fans in terms of earnestness-bordering-on-mania, and now the two teams are locked in some sort of eternal embarrassment-off, shuttling and shuttling from one side of north London to the next, each out-embarrassing the other, somehow, forever and ever, talking about net spend, Tottenham for life, Wenger Out, Dembélé Moussa Dembélé, driving all the way to Leicester for no reason, the voice-break at 1:55—
BRITNEY SPEARS DESERVES SOME CREDIT I THINK
We have a go at Britney Spears, don't we, because she blinks I would say 40 percent less often than is necessary for a normal human to blink and because, for a professional singer, she has a near pathological aversion to singing live. But amateur videos where people sing songs they have written themselves often prove that lip-syncing is actually exceptionally hard. Take this video, for instance, the one we've spent a thousand words talking about: no man on earth knows the lyrics to this song better than the guy front-and-centre who is singing it, and three-quarters of the time he is completely off the pace of it, the pace he set himself. Lip-syncing, it seems, it a high art, and us lowly mortals should try our best to never attempt it. If this awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful Tottenham video has taught me anything, it's a renewed respect for Britney Spears, who has forged a career out of being very good at something people don't realise is actually very difficult.