The brand new BBC two-part documentary, Gazza, opens with the solitary determine of former worldwide soccer star and fallen hero, Paul Gascoigne, fishing alone in a abandoned lake. Taking as its title Gascoigne’s nickname, Gazza presents the footballer as a person extra sinned in opposition to by the press than responsible of his personal actions.
Utilizing archival footage and voice-over interviews with pals, household, colleagues and teammates, in addition to the journalists who pursued him, the documentary tells the acquainted – and persuasive – story of a sportsman of humble origins who’s destroyed by world fame and media intrusion.
Gascoigne was the fun-loving, fragile soccer star, who famously sobbed when given a yellow card on the 1990 World Cup semi-final. In an period infamous for circulation wars and cheque-book journalism, he’s portrayed as a younger scamp beleaguered by the British tabloids of the day, with the Every day Mirror below the editorship of Piers Morgan and the Information of The World below Rebekah Brooks (née Wade).
Gazza particulars how the footballer was among the many celebrities focused amid the telephone hacking scandal, information of which broke in 2011. It concludes with footage of his 2015 high-court look, wherein he acquired substantial damages from Mirror Group Newspapers and Information UK, homeowners of The Solar newspaper.
However it’s in its dealing with of Gascoigne’s well-documented violence in direction of his ex-wife, Sheryl Gascoigne, that the documentary fails. Opposite to a lot of present mainstream fiction and movie, which refuses to sympathise with abusive males and as a substitute tells their tales in a extra reasonable means, Gazza perpetuates harmful and inaccurate views on home violence, views which have lengthy been discounted by analysis.
A sympathetic account
Critics have rightly famous that Gazza doesn’t shrink back from Gascoigne’s violence in direction of Sheryl. It’s first talked about, at slightly below an hour into the primary episode, by the footballer’s ex-assistant, Jane Nottage.
Sheryl, Nottage says, “would telephone me up evening and day and pour out her troubles about Paul going to pin me in opposition to the wall … I keep in mind going to the villa and discovering the wall had marks on it the place he’d been kicking it or punching the doorways.”
The second episode particulars the information articles which broke the abuse story and the next interviews wherein Gascoigne admitted as a lot. In a single phase, after an evening spent with Paul at a Scottish resort, Sheryl seems with a broken arm and bruises. One other phase consists of an interview together with her, after her separation from Gascoigne, wherein she discusses the significance of talking out about home abuse.
All through the documentary, nonetheless, the one individual to sentence home abuse, and Gascoigne’s violence in direction of Sheryl, is his former Spurs teammate, Paul Stewart. As an alternative, fairly than depicting Sheryl because the sufferer, and Gascoigne because the perpetrator, Gazza reinforces age-old myths used to justify home violence.
Myths about home violence
The primary fantasy the documentary promotes is that some girls actively provoke males. In a single sequence, after an interview wherein Gascoigne himself wonders aloud whether or not he’s “taking out” his insecurities “on the individual closest” to him, TV producer Don Perretta talks about Gascoigne being upset at his relationship with Sheryl falling aside. “I definitely obtained a way,” Perretta says, “that she made him indignant. And I obtained a way that he would want to precise that anger.”
The second fantasy is that girls who report abuse can’t be trusted. Sheryl’s character is undermined by feedback made by relations, gamers and Gascoigne’s buddy, Linda Lusardi. Recalling a night with the couple throughout Gascoigne’s stint taking part in for Lazio soccer membership, in Rome, she says:
I keep in mind he scored however Sheryl wasn’t actually . She was extra frightened about attending to the restaurant. I believe Sheryl loved the eye, she loved the cash, however I by no means felt there was an terrible lot of affection there.
Most damning of all, Sheryl is constantly portrayed as being near Wade and Morgan, who’re positioned because the true villains of the piece. A lot is manufactured from her shut friendship with Wade, particularly.
The ultimate sequence of the documentary states that Sheryl, Wade and Morgan all “declined to be interviewed for this movie”. No point out is made, nonetheless, of the truth that the documentary consists of no present-day interviews from Paul Gascoigne both. All now we have are these silent photographs of him fishing by the lake.
The documentary largely focuses on the strain Gascoigne was below. His former assistant, Jane Nottage, states that, “Paul wasn’t ready for the strain cooker of the media.” And Perretta concurs, saying, “Gazza’s life was one in all strain. Stress from the membership for him to carry out, strain from his pals to exit and have a great time, strain from his household to supply for them, strain from Sheryl … strain from the media … How do you address that?”
This sort of sympathetic framing is commonly utilized by individuals who perpetuate a 3rd fantasy about home abuse: that excessive stress causes or excuses violent behaviour.
Attitudes in direction of girls
These myths have been roundly denounced by businesses working with abused girls, corresponding to Girls’s Help. A long time of analysis have demonstrated that home abuse is a product of deeply held patriarchal values and attitudes in direction of girls. It’s not as a consequence of exterior pressures or provocation from a selected sort of girl.
Footballers are function fashions for younger males. Golf equipment corresponding to Leeds United are actually trying to vary the tradition of violence related to the game by actively supporting the White Ribbon marketing campaign, which inspires males and boys to forestall male violence in direction of girls. One among their slogans is: “In case you see it, present assist, name it out or report.”
However whilst girls’s soccer thrives and progressive masculinities are on the rise, misogyny stays rife amongst male followers. And home violence extra broadly is more and more recognised as a serious socio-cultural drawback worldwide, incidents of which have elevated worryingly throughout the pandemic.
On this context, male violence shouldn’t be excused or dismissed. From so-called home noir thrillers, corresponding to The Woman on the Practice and The Woman Earlier than, to cleaning soap operas, together with The Archers and Eastenders (each of which have highlighted spousal abuse), a lot of up to date fiction on display screen incorporates an knowledgeable, feminist evaluation of the patriarchal energy dynamics at work in gaslighting, coercive management and home violence. Gazza, conversely, reveals no such consciousness.
The authors don’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that will profit from this text, and have disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.