What is this white square? Is it nothing? Is it a symbol of something wonderful yet to fill it? Is it the contents of David Beckham’s brain?
I am including a blank white square above because analyzing that square is like what the press is attempting to do in deciphering what David Beckham meant, if anything, by putting on a green and gold anti-Glazer protest scarf last night after the Milan-Manchester United match at Old Trafford.
I have no idea what David Beckham meant by putting on the scarf. Is it possible that in the wake of the anti-Glazer protests literally ringing in his ears thoughout the match, that he truly meant it when he said, “To be honest, it’s not my business. I’m a United fan and I support the club, I always will. It’s nothing to do with me how it’s run. That’s to do with other people. I support the team. I will always support the team.”
Some people I read think that he knew exactly what he was doing last night. But if he did wear the scarf to make a statement, why come out with more mealy-mouthed nonsense when asked about it? It just makes him look stupid, right?
Is David Beckham really so clever that he’d blow this 8,000 decibel dogwhistle at Manchester United supporters while also playing extraordinarily dumb to placate his corporate supporters?
This brings me back to the white square. We really have no idea what Beckham meant. He’s never given off any indication that he was anything other than a reasonably nice guy and a decent father with a penchant for tattoos and the occasional sarong.
That is because he has presented himself in such away as to be as blank as possible. If, in order to like him, you needed to frame him as a glamorous figure of fashion and flash, you could do that. If, in order to like him, you needed to see him just another Essex lad, you could do that too. If you needed him to be tolerant, that was there. If you needed him to be “hard” or tough, that was there too. You could “draw” on him whatever image you wanted there? I don’t think that could be said of other recent global sporting icons. Even Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan have more of an obvious image than Beckham did. But Beckham isn’t as good at his sport as Woods or Jordan were at their’s – Beckham’s image is something else, it’s something more subtle.
It’s a mirror.
That, believe it or not, is genius of “Brand Beckham.” His image and his personality exist to serve as a mirror of ourselves. If, like me, you already think he’s a bit of an idiot, he’ll surely give you a bit of ammo to confirm that. Just the same, if United fans want to believe that he supports their protests, he’ll help them believe that. Yet, at the same time, if his sponsors need to believe that Beckham would never do something as controversal as supporting the protests, he’ll help them believe that too.