Donald MacInnes: Rooney and Chaplin playing the same game

In The Red

If you’re a football fan, you’ll know that today sees the commencement of the English Premier League, a competition about as enamoured of the holy pound sterling as it is possible to get without actually licking a tenner.

It is also as chivalrous and honourable in its business dealings as a crocodile with a flick-knife.

Much of the talk this summer has surrounded the trundling saga of Wayne Rooney, the one-time top-of-the-heap English superstar, now marginalised at Manchester United and desperate to leave, much as he was a couple of years ago, when he first told United he was unhappy; that the club didn’t match his ambition. Aghast, the club reacted to the dagger in its back by acquiescing with quite mystifying largesse, making Rooney reputedly one of the highest-paid players in the country, on £250,000 a week. That's speedboat money. While United fans may have been outwardly and collectively infuriated with Rooney’s brinkmanship, any boos they directed his way in the next game evaporated as soon as he scored a goal. His “disloyalty” meant nothing, as long as he kept banging them in. Football fans are such tarts for a goal. But this, after all, is showbusiness. Goals are crashing cymbals. The fans just want to be entertained. They don't need to approve of their hero’s life choices. Just his kicking. And it was ever thus.

A century ago, Charlie Chaplin was a global star. In 1914, he was coming to the end of his contract with one studio, Essanay, and so let it be known that, on top of his salary, he expected his next studio to pay him a signing  fee of $150,000. That amounts to around £2m today. It snowed offers, but Charlie signed with Mutual Film Corporation, on $10,000 a week (about £145,000 today).

Newspapers pulsated with rage that, at 26, Chaplin was one of the highest paid people in the world. But the bottom line, said Mutual president John R. Freuler, was: "We can afford to pay Mr Chaplin this large sum annually because the public wants Chaplin and will pay for him.” It didn’t matter how much Charlie wanted. As long as he got laughs, he was indulged. And while this ethos clearly carries through to the Rooney goings-on, you'd have to wonder if, in even half a century, Wayne will be remembered as fondly as the little baggy-trousered Englishman who held Hollywood to ransom. And won.

voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

    £350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

    Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

    Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

    Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

    £475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn