Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Race to Bitch Mountain - Why the Rock Should Stay in Wrestling's Past

Photo Credit: WWE.com

If thinking the Rock is full of shit is a fad, then guys, I have been ahead of that trend for years.

Nostalgia in wrestling is a funny thing. It’s why a lot of people are still around. It gives us hope that one day the show will get better, because it used to be great and can be again. But are we truly reminiscing about a time where there were great matches every night, or are we searching for the fleeting feeling of getting lost in a suspension of disbelief?

We all watch wrestling differently. Some watch with a critical eye, having memorized every title reign date, every variation of suplex, every obscure guy from periods of wrestling that maybe, perhaps, time should have forgotten. But even the driest, most analytical fan of wrestling got here somehow. Whether it was because you’re seven, and Yokozuna sitting on people was the both the height of comedy and terror, or because you loved a wrestler so much your mother had to lie about the ending of a pay per view so you wouldn’t be sad. We all came into with some kind of blind love and devotion. Any criticism, or smarkiness, if you will, had to be learned, molded, nurtured. It could have been because you wanted to know more, and learned so much that it’s no longer real to you. It could be because at some point, it became uncool to like wrestling – your friends growing up and into other things, the end of an era – so you sought out independent and obscure foreign promotions, because if no one else knows about them, they have to be cool, right?

As a little girl, I admit that I was not all that popular. One of my mother’s favourite stories involves me coming home, crying and angry, from my first day of kindergarten. As mom legend goes, I took off my shoes, threw my backpack as far as little Danielle could throw it, and proclaimed “I’m never going back! It’s full of babies! They can’t even read or tie their own shoes!” Needless to say, being more advanced in learning coupled with an exposure to pop culture that I probably shouldn’t have been (‘sup Alan Moore an R-rated movies) did not help me make friends easily. By the time the Attitude Era came around, I had already accepted that I was never going to fully blend in. I cared more about reading Nabokov and Vonnegut than going to boy-girl parties. It’s great that you’re really into boy bands! I’m going to go home and listen to Strangeways Here We Come and Pornography and get real mopey about stuff.

While you’d think that a gifted kid who didn’t like stuff other kids liked, and also had the burden of being a bit chubby, would be a splash in social situations, alas, not so much. I was pretty heavily bullied for most of my school days, but through every trial and tribulation of adolescence, a few things stuck with me: I will probably always see myself as being more overweight than I actually am, being smarter than someone makes them feel uncomfortable, and boys who loved the Attitude Era kept me from coming back to wrestling for longer than I should have allowed them to.

It’s great to look at things through the veil of nostalgia, because you can point to buy-rates, or ratings wars, or the hard to forget catchphrases of a period and say yeah, it should be like that again! What that same veil obscures, however, is blatant homophobia, exploitation and degradation of women, and more than a little racism that cut way deeper than “Tatanka’s not actually a native so he probably shouldn’t be wearing that war bonnet.” Nostalgia is the Martha Stewart Vaseline-smeared lens that makes the end result look perfect and pretty, because you didn’t see the intern burn themselves on a glue gun, or try and fail numerous times before getting that kitschy and crafty embellished throw pillow just kitschy and crafty enough to look professionally homemade.

What you also don’t see, and what they don’t mention on DVDs or video packages celebrating a company reaching its zenith socially and financially, is the trickle-down effect of how these attitudes affected the viewers. For some of those who still cling to their attitudinal glory days, it signaled a big shift in what they watched, and the accessibility of things that seemed taboo. A glimpse of sideboob or bikini line mixed with pubescent curiosity could turn into sexual nitroglycerin. So how illicit did it feel to see Sable parade around virtually topless, when the sexiest thing previously in wrestling was goddamn Miss Elizabeth? So if she's doing it, why aren't all girls?

Being a douche was cool. Didn’t like what a teacher or parent had to say? Why, just give them two middle fingers, refuse to do what they ask, and tell them that was the bottom line, because [little boy name] says so. Is there a special, pretty girl in your class? Why not chase her around and tell her you would love a taste of that poontang pie, even if you, at that point, probably have no earthly idea what cunnilingus actually entails? Someone has a snappy retort to you doing or saying any of these things? Obviously, chop your crotch and tell them to suck it, because that is the knockout punch of verbal sparring, and no one can come back to that.

Now, yesterday, Holzerman pointed out that according to the numbers, 35% of wrestling fans are female. I would challenge that the number is higher, if only based on the fact that I don’t remember being surveyed, nor any of my female friends who watch wrestling. I wonder, how many of that 35% lived through similar scenarios, feeling marginalized, and stuck around? How many ladies fought through feeling like they were watching something that wasn’t meant for them, but stuck with it anyways? Probably fewer than you’d think, but to those who did, I salute you for being a much stronger person than myself.

But now things are different, right? Women aren’t paraded around as pieces of flesh, right? They can hold positions of power and not be looked at as weak, insipid, overly emotional creatures, right? They’re in charge of their sexuality, and will never be judged for doing things that a man would be applauded for, right? They’re allowed to be smart and funny and talented, and project a heroic image to little girls everywhere who need a strong role model in popular culture? No one would insinuate that having a feminine attitude, or that any part of the female anatomy, is weak and worth being mocked. No one would dare ever drag the widower of a wrestling great, a former GM, and someone currently in a managerial position over a roster of wrestlers on the top televised wrestling show in the world, and tell her that she’s fat and dresses like a cheap prostitute, right?

...right?

...fuck

So here we are again. The “Architect of an Era” is here to make you think about gender inequality and make you feel sad and stuff. And the “people” love it. People remember how great and cool and moved they were by a period of time The Rock was involved in, and immediately devolve into those 13 year old boys scandalized by him having an apoplectic fit and saying words that meant vagina. They are electrified, because he’s charming and successful and rode the wave of shitty gimmicks and catchphrases to being cool outside of wrestling, something some of us still struggle to do each day. He’s the kid who got a pool, the kid who got to go to coed sleepaway camp, the highschool quarterback. He’s everything you once thought was cool and better and successful. And now he’s back, and you’ll remember that feeling of how cool it once was to call someone a jabroni. So you’ll chant cookie puss and hashtag the shit out of everything, all while ignoring the fact that you probably looked like a jackass and made people feel really bad about themselves when you called them a jabroni, and that you wouldn’t dare tell your girlfriend or wife she looked bad in anything, let alone that she looks like a hooker you wouldn’t condescend to paying a fair wage to.

This exultation of The Rock and the thrill of a non-PG-13 television show makes people who didn’t grow up with it think that yeah, those must have been the best times in wrestling. Everyone knows who The Rock is! There are still Austin/John/Your Name Here 3:16 at every sporting event in American that you can think of. “Suck it!” is a totally cool comeback, even if it refers to a sexual act being put into a context wherein the person is performing it not out of passion or physical attraction, but out of forced debasement.

Now, is this really what you all want back? Now that you’re older, and (hopefully) wiser, are you really so desperate for the feeling of acceptance outside of a niche group of television viewers that you want The Rock back? Think about the last time you were at a WWE event. Do you think it’s perfectly acceptable for little girls in the audience to see that women in a position of power are only there to be derided? Is that going to inspire something great in them, or make them feel like their limitations in life start at their own gender? Are those little boys going to think a never give up attitude, respect, and loyalty are important values to hold on to, or is he going to look at all of the grown-ups and cool, older kids chanting and being a part of something, and go to school the next day and call one of those little girls a fat hooker cookiepuss? And why not? It made adults laugh and cheer, so why wouldn’t it be cool? Why wouldn’t it be perfectly acceptable to insult a boy by saying he’s just like a girl? That he has Twinkie tits? That he probably can’t see his penis, not because he’s fat, but because he doesn’t have one lol?

This is unacceptable. All of it is. If The Rock wanted to come back, he could have wrestled, he could have called someone out for saying dumb things, he could have pointed out that any of his movies made more money than the Marine or any of its sequels because he’s a real success, and makes real movies for real serious money. But no. We get someone who was never really a great wrestler relying on catchphrases and hashtags because there’s nothing of substance or intelligence to draw from.  Because some people just want to feel a part of something bigger than they are again, the rest of us are made to feel small and worthless one more time. It’s disappointing, and it’s demeaning to everyone. To women, to the LGBTQ community, and at the end of the day, it’s insulting to all wrestling fans. The top purveyor of the sport you love thinks you haven’t grown up, you never got a girlfriend, and you never got cool. It thinks you’re stupid and will lap up anything they put out there as long as it’s branded with someone you can feel nostalgic about.

So congratulations, Rock. You made me feel like a kid again. And for that you should be ashamed.

100 comments:

  1. Amen. It's truly embarrassing to sit through this crap.

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  2. I agree with Danielle. Rock is horrendous and I can't wait until WM is over and he mostly goes away forever. Not fun to be made to feel stupid for watching WWE television.

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  3. I love how wonderfully this was all said, but hate that it needed to be said in the first place. I'm pretty sure Rock doesn't condescend like this when he does press for movies, but I guess film fans are just considered more sophisticated than us pro graps enthusiasts.

    Dwayne is dumb, you are great, end of story.

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  4. Terrific article. The Rock is part of a greater whole of misogyny that WWE perpetuates even when it has easy and obvious ways to avoid it. But of all the people who perpetuate it, he's the only one with the power to really change it. And promo after promo, he doesn't.

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  5. I never thought I'd see the Attitude Era through the point of view of the current discussion of the so-called 'rape culture'.

    Is that taking the perpetual degradation of women that arguably originated in the 'Attitude Era' too far?

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    1. Considering that post-Attitude Era we has a storyline where a woman was raped, impregnated by her rapist, forced to MARRY her rapist, developed Stockholm syndrome and then was booed for eventually TURNING ON HER RAPIST?

      No. Not too far at all.

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  6. <3 Thank you for so eloquently putting my rage into words. And while "the top purveyor" would largely be right about me, it doesn't take into account that I still know the difference between right and wrong, smart and dumb, clever and "embarrassing for all involved."

    I hope, in my heart, that Dwayne doesn't actually think like Rock. It doesn't excuse what Rock does, but I still have enough naivete to hope that he's not actually that terrible person.

    Never stop writing, we need this kind of light.

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  7. Don't be a bully, be a star. But if someone is gay or a woman, then whatever queer.

    It's not just the Rock. Cena and Sheamus have been doing it for the longest time as well. Hipocracy, thy name is Babyface

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  8. Neither Rock nor the WWE in general HAS to do this. That they do, or think they have to, is incredibly sad. It also makes things so damnably schizophrenic when you're at all reflective because all this stuff you like is mixed in with all this garbage, and people you like (I like Dwayne Johnson; I like Sheamus) are covered in all this garbage.

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  9. Guuuuhhhhh WWE. The problem isn't even with the Rock (though he's a huge part of it). It's every person on the roster that is portrayed as someone I should like or admire. I know this gets talked about ad nauseum on the intranets, but the WWE babyfaces are all so terrible, mean and obnoxious. I can't relate to them. I don't like the heels because they're "cool." I just don't understand how I can relate to any of these bullying, child-like faces. Sheamus poops in ADR's car. He is the hero. Rock calls Vickie Guerrero and ugly prostitute. He is the hero. Cena calls AJ crazy after making out with her. He is the hero.

    I guess it's because all the heroes are just written to be like Vince McMahon now. I can't understand why people cheer him. He's a sonofabitch in real life, but his onscreen character is awful too. It's total cognitive dissonance when the crowd cheers for these guys. I JUST DON'T GET IT.

    On the bright side, I am enjoying genuine babyface ADR while he lasts. He fights for his buddy! He calls Big Show a fat jackass because Big Show is a jerk and is trying to get him stripped of the title. His buddy threw a bucket of confetti on Big Show instead of mock feces. Oh god, how I loved it. But I was so worried until the very end that it would be a bucket of mock feces. I hate that I have come to expect that. It makes me sad.

    P.S. Danielle, I don't ever watch TNA, but I read your B&W column on With Leather every week because it is awesome. I should retweet it or comment or something, because I know that makes Brandon happy. But I am terrible and lazy.

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  10. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

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  11. Well said, thanks for writing this.

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  12. THere's only one true reason why The Rock does this. Because the people in the stands go CRAZY when he insults people like Vickie.

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  13. Great, great piece. I'm very happy to have your voice as a part of whatever it is constituting the Internet wrestling community.

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  14. "Do you think it’s perfectly acceptable for little girls in the audience to see that women in a position of power are only there to be derided?"

    We're talking about a woman that got into power through manipulation, for distortion of truth, and by successfully convincing a fictional board of directors that the then-current female in charge was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a talent based of highly circumstantial evidence. Not to mention the person perpetrating this has been blatantly guilty of misusing both her position of authority, and of having inappropriate relationships with talent in the past. Yet from this column, I'm gathering that none of that matters, and we're just supposed to feel sorry for Vickie Guerrero for the simple fact that she has a vagina.

    Eve, another example, spent the better part of the past year manipulating her way into position of power. Whether it was as Johnny Ace's assistant, or as Booker T's, she manipulated herself into positions of authority, and in turn, manipulated events around her to benefit herself. All the while, she created problems for various wrestlers and divas, but we're supposed to feel bad for her when Cena "embarrasses" her after she pretty much revealed she was using Zack Ryder, and John Cena to further her own ambitions, something that she carried over into her act as assistant to the GM's of both Raw and Smackdown, and when she gives her little temper tantrum where she quits and talks about John Cena embarrassing her, and Zack Ryder "stalking" her, we're just supposed to forget the fact that not even 20 minutes prior, she sexually harassed her boss, trying to get out of defending her title.

    But please. Go on about the heel women in WWE aren't bad, and how we're just simply supposed to feel bad for them for the sake of their vaginas.

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    1. Yes, Vickie the character is manipulative and power-hungry. Eve the character gradually took on the same characteristics. The thing is, those characteristics are NOT what they are taken to task for. Time and again, as Danielle points out, it came down to the fact that they are women. Vickie's appearance and Eve's sexuality have NOTHING to do with their actions as villains. There is no reason to reduce them to "fat" and "ho-ski," respectively. Both women have done a fantastic job of portraying villains, yet no one is going to remember them for their great character work. We're only going to be reminded of the body-shaming and slut-shaming. That is the problem. If you can't see how that's a problem, then you are wilfully blind.

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    2. Eve quite clearly tried to seduce Booker T to get her way. She's used her sexuality as a weapon to get her way with that whole mess with Cena & Ryder. If you do that, getting called a "ho-ski" is definitely in bounds. You reap what you sew. If Eve is going to weaponize her sexuality, it's perfectly fine for other people to as well.

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    3. @ SB. Yes she did those things because Vince wrote them for her to do. One would assume he wrote them in the first place to get the crowds to chant ho-ski which plays right into what the WWE thinks about women.

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    4. That is a serious reach. Nobody can predict what a crowd will say and that's an awful lot of work for a chant. No way they'd willingly torpedo a face character just for that.

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    5. If you're judging WWE's treatment of women based on how the characters are portrayed on their television shows, then you should judged other television networks and movie studios the same way since many programs over the years have shown manipulative, power hungry women in less than flattering lights.

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    6. Look, the thing about Vickie isn't that WOMEN ARE PRECIOUS ANGELS THAT NEED TO BE PROTECTED, it's that they are not on an equal playing field. Paul Heyman is debased not on a basis of being a sleazeball, but on being a fat virgin with twinkie tits. Vickie Guerrero was right to ask Rock and Foley to keep it down. Rocky hasn't encountered Vickie's awful managerial style, and yet here he is, ragging on her for her appearance. That doesn't seem fucked up to you for a good guy to be doing to a bad guy?

      If Rock is going to get heat on Vickie, there should be a legitimate reason for it that doesn't devolve to him basing her worth on looks alone. It's a good rule to have that policy in place no matter what the gender is. THe problem is that WWE seems to have this pattern where it's only women who get that treatment. That's fucked up.

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  15. Here from a link from K Tempest Bradford. Everything about this, YES. I was a wrestling fan for over 20 years, and finally the misogyny and death culture got too much to bare. The Benoit incident is what prompted me to break ties all together, but the build was slow, from about the time of the Trish "bark like a dog" scene and the terrible treatment of Chyna. People try to insist to me that things have changed for the women, but I can't see it - they're still objectified props, no matter how hard some of those wonderful ladies work.

    I did the whole caboodle. I traveled a long way to go to attend a Wrestlemania. I still hold it as a big highlight in my life. But there was a huge cognitive dissonance going on to allow me as a feminist to keep enjoying watching. It got harder and harder as the years went on. And to think that the women with power in that company allowed this to carry on, and allowed it to happen to them.

    The only wrestler I keep up with today is Mick Foley, because his post wrestling work including his RAINN activism is incredible. It saddens and cheers me at the same time that there is one person who escaped the hypermasculinity, rape culture sodden industry.

    "How many ladies fought through feeling like they were watching something that wasn’t meant for them, but stuck with it anyways?" This, absolutely. I stuck at it, thinking "humanity progresses, right? Things will change for the better, right?"

    Sigh.

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  16. @Jason Swift
    I think that's a symptom of the major problem that this article is addressing. Does anyone really believe that anything we see on camera, the confrontations and the interactions, the scandals and harassments, is actually happening?

    But if we believe it's all scripted, that Vicki and Eve are PLAYING at being bad guys, we have to ask ourselves... Why are women always given these scripts? I admit I haven't watched a lot of WWE for a long time, but it sounds like nothing much has changed.

    So yeah. Why, in the microcosm that is WWE, are women generally either crazy bitches, silent eye candy, or sex-bomb starlets?

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  17. This is such a great and heartfelt piece and explains exactly why I've stopped watching Raw and am gradually losing interest in Smackdown. It sucks because I know I'm missing out on some good matches, but I am SO TIRED of the invisible chorus constantly shouting "This is not for you! This is not for you!" I'm SO TIRED of finding excuses to keep coming back to the thing I love when it so clearly doesn't love me back.

    Don't ever stop writing!

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  18. @Jace
    That's a question to direct at WWE, not me. But it doesn't change my point at all. It's one thing to feel bad that Vickie and Eve are/were booked in to shitty characters that lend themselves to that kind of treatment. But at the same time, their characters have been snotty little bitches on TV for the last year. Is it not realistic that those characters might suffer some comeuppance for how they have been?

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    1. Must the comeuppance always be the same drek? Slut, cheap hooker, scheming trashbag ho, fat...

      Dude, please stop defending this horrible treatment of women.

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    2. A person who says the characters have been snotty little bitches is not going to understand why you shouldn't call women bitches. The horrible "I won't call them bitches if they don't act like bitches!" thing.

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    3. Oh so because I see nothing wrong with bad women being called out or punished for their behavior, that means I defend the horrible treatment of women. Because I don't get bent out of shape because of Rock's song I'm this horrible person that doesn't deserve to have an opinion.

      That's actually pretty funny, not to mention as narrow as you accuse WWE of being.

      Brandon, I'm sorry I don't live in your world where women always act like ladies, are polite, never use their sexuality or feminine nature to be better, or obtain a better standing than others. Please let me know where that is so I can move there please.

      You'll have to forgive me, since I live in a world where women do in fact, act like snotty bitches. Who manipulate men, and who perpetuate this notion that having a vagina somehow makes them smarter, when it clearly makes no difference. You don't see me out here hitting women, or calling for Vickie or Eve to be beaten by a man, or anything of the sort, so exactly how is it I suddenly support the horrible treatment? Because I watch WWE as a fan instead of critiquing it for all the things I hate and can't stand?

      I can truly, and utterly foresee that 2013 is the year I stop reading TWB. And that's a damned shame seeing as I've been a supporter from the start.

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    4. You're saying it's ok to treat these women this way because they've behaved badly, so yeah, you're defending this horrible treatment of women.

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    5. Why can't a man call a woman a bitch if she's acting like one? Women call men dogs all the time. Why is it suddenly wrong for a man to return the favor?

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    6. Why is it so often the first, and often only, thing that women get called?

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  19. Replies
    1. Want to know where that place you asked about is? In a really cool part of town called "being a grown-up."

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    2. Already live there pal. Let me know when you graduate and you understand that there are women in this world that are just bitches. Peace out.

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    3. There are horrible people out there, regardless of their gender. But the bottom line is that they should be called out for their actions, not just resorting to blanket statements like 'snotty little bitches.'

      Vickie Guerrero and Eve are heels, yes. But is Vickie they told that hey, maybe you shouldn't double standard AJ for something you did to a greater extent with Edge? No. It's "you're a fat ugly cow" 100% of the time, no matter what she does. A lack of exposition when 'taking someone to task'is lazy bullshit, pure and simple.

      If a face is trying to point out what makes someone terrible as a character, it doesn't work if they don't expand on or give any specific reasons. That's why the Rock/Cena feud has been terrible. Instead of saying hey, you're plain as vanilla dude and I'm a big movie star, and no matter how great you think you are you'll never be as loved as me, we get chants and hashtags and slurs. John Cena doesn't say that's great, but your time has passed, and suddenly showing up to expect adulation and having everything handed to you just because people used to love you is weak, and you should show up and fight for what you want. Instead we get dumb raps about how the Rock is gay and that's a bad thing.

      A vagina doesn't define someone's actions. Their words and actions do. But as soon as you call it out as being a marker for why someone is bad or less than you, that puts you in the wrong.

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  20. As much as i love being lectured about the attitude era by someone who admittedly never watched it this entire post was horseshit. That whole " according to the numbers, 35% of wrestling fans are female. I would challenge that the number is higher, if only based on the fact that I don’t remember being surveyed, nor any of my female friends who watch wrestling." was silly, I'm male and i don't recall being surveyed either and neither do any of my male friends. It's not an accurate reading, they did not poll every single wrestling fan, If them kinda stats confuse you then Nielson Ratings would blow your mind. Yup that's right they're not really monitoring every TV in the US.

    Face degrades heel with a series of jokes is the oldest fucking trick in Wrestling. Getting your knickers in a twist over it because it happend to be a female this time is ridiculous. Cena's been pulling this shit on Male heels for the past 10 years. Rock did it on Smackdown to Cody. And they're both over as fuck, and Cody is over more because of it, and the stache he's using for cheap heat is even more over so it's win/win. This is how wrestling has always worked.

    Jericho is arguably one the best wrestlers of the modern generation and one of the best to come out of the attitude era and one of his most memorable things on wwf television is calling Stephanie Mcmahon a "Filthy, Dirty, Disgusting, Brutal, Bottom-Feeding Trash Bag Ho" Amd ypi lmpw what, it got them both over as fuck.

    Jericho understands this business more than you ever could. Whilst i may not agree with the wwe doing this shit alongside a "B A Star" campaign there is a reason you are the minority, because this shit has worked crowds for decades and always will. Now you can play the elitism that you're better than these people who are cheering rock's sexism but you're really not, in actuality it boils down to you not understanding the product, the face/heel system and the methods of putting heels over as someone you love to hate with insults.

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    1. This comment reminds me very much of "Fake Geek Girl" syndrome: women can't have possibly watched wrestling so shall mansplain it to you.

      It's not just sexism on screen women fans have had to deal with. We shouldn't have to explain the veracity of our wrestling knowledge every. damn. time. we have a conversation in public.

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    2. Name one guy that Jericho called a 'trashbag ho'. Name any guy that gets called to task verbally for their sexuality in the way that men do. When Val Venis slept with Dustin Runnels wife, did Dustin spend five minutes calling him names? No, he turned into Goldust and kicked the guy in the crotch.

      Heck, Right to Censor were heels. Sure, they acted like jerks, but the message from WWE was clear: not interested in any level of morality, thank you.

      Men have the option of beating each other up to put each other over. Women just get derided for being... Well, women.

      So basically, Uke, what I get from you is that the industry works by appealing to the lowest common denominator, and a lot of the fans are only to happy to be it.

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    3. It's great that you assume that while I may not have watched it when it happened, that I've never seen it, and have no concept of how it works. Silly me for thinking that a flawed system that breeds hateful attitudes shouldn't make any effort to catch up to a line of thinking, and get out of attitudes towards women and minorities that should have died out long ago. Just because a whole bunch of people have done the same thing doesn't mean it's smart or right or not a shitty copout in any way.

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    4. I understand how heat used to work. But as society evolves, shouldn't the modes of entertainment? Can't we get to the point where women don't need to feel like they have to be fodder for abuse just to be a part of the wrestling show?

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    5. Amanda i never questioned her wrestling knowledge because she's female, i questioned it because she openly admitted to not even watching the attitude era and then commenting upon it. Read with a clearer head next time.

      "Name and guy that gets called ot task verbally for their sexuality in the way that men do" (i assume you meant women but okay here goes) Billy and Chuck, Rico, Slater and Gabriel (many many cena jokes about their "relationship" Chris Kanyon, Paul Heyman on Raw20 (he can't see his penis) i have more but i believe i've made my point.

      now @Danielle, i didn't assume you never watched it you stated you didn't watch it. I believe you wouldn't come back to wrestling BECAUSE of the attitude era. Excuse me if i may be paraphrasing.

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    6. So, basically from your list of examples we can see that there are gay slurs just as there are female slurs. And that makes it all better, I guess?

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  21. Most comments on this blog ever?

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  22. There is an awful lot of this I agree with and I think The Rock has been pretty awful but I'm not sure why someone with these general views would be interested in watching a program where EVERYTHING is based around resolving conflicts through violence. I don't say this as an excuse of juvenile nonsense in wrestling - though I think wrestling's status as the last cultural outlet that utilizes stereotypes is part of the appeal and if pressed I suspect 95% of fans would admit that - but rather because I'm trying to understand the broader point of view being expressed in this piece.

    Setting that aside I also think it's odd that the same people who decry the treatment of Vickie and Eve have no problem with Chikara running matches where men beat the shit out of women. I get that the general concept is "we are PC trailblazer's transcending the artificial sexual divide," but if you are asking me what is worse The Rock calling Vickie fat, or Saturyne getting slapped in the breast over and over while the announcer literally argues that she asked for it....well...I can't see any serious argument that the Vickie bit is worse.

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    1. I knew nothing about it but it sounds terrible.

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    2. “I also think it's odd that the same people who decry the treatment of Vickie and Eve have no problem with Chikara running matches where men beat the shit out of women.”

      A huge gap exists between the treatment of women in WWE and the treatment of women in CHIKARA.

      When WWE has Rock call out Vickie Guerrero for a ‘good-natured’ round of ‘hey let’s call Vickie a fat whore for no good reason’, it does so because of an ingrained pattern of humiliating women based specifically on their gender.

      When CHIKARA books Saturyne, Manami Toyota, or any other female wrestler in a match with a man, it doesn’t do so to humiliate or spite a gender — rather, it does so to elevate women to the same level as men inside the ring.

      How do those two things even remotely resemble each other in terms of intent or concept?

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    3. Is it humiliating specially based on ONLY gender? Or...is it based on the actions of that person? I think some of you are really placing too much emphasis on the gender. When everyone was doing their Johnny Ace impersonation in their promos, no one was crying foul about how Johnny Ace was being humiliated for no good reason other than his gender.

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    4. “Is it humiliating specially based on ONLY gender? Or...is it based on the actions of that person?”

      90% gender, 10% actions, I’d say. Yes, Vickie fits the profile of the typical ‘evil mastermind’ authority figure, but I didn’t hear Rock calling her out for making unfair matches or using her power to punish wrestlers she doesn’t like.

      I heard Rock call her a fat whore.

      “When everyone was doing their Johnny Ace impersonation in their promos, no one was crying foul about how Johnny Ace was being humiliated for no good reason other than his gender.”

      Yeah, because nobody took the time to repeatedly call Johnny Ace out for having a small penis or whatever other tailored-to-humiliate-men insults you can think of off the top of your head.

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    5. Calling her out for her behavior isn't going to get any yucks from the crowd. Depending on how its said, calling her a fat whore will. He's not taking her feelings into consideration. That's kinda the point of insulting somebody. What Rock said to Heyman was way worse than what he said to Vickie and nobody is choosing that hill to die on. Heyman's very manhood was insulted and nobody cares. Everybody is focusing on Vickie and I think you all know why.

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    6. I'll be sure and go back in time so I can write about Johnny Ace.

      I believe I did mention Heyman, actually. Good to know people are skimming to the part where I'm a lady and assuming that's the only reason I could ever have a problem with lazy, misogynistic and homophobic hate speech.

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    7. Never said you didn't mention Heyman, but it's clear that Vickie is getting the lion's share of the focus.

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    8. “it's clear that Vickie is getting the lion's share of the focus”

      I don’t suppose that has anything to do with the years upon years of WWE wrestlers and commentators calling her ugly, fat, a whore, or all three insults rolled into one, right?

      No, the insults towards Heyman don’t come off as any better than the insults towards Vickie, but compare and contrast the language used when people insult Heyman to the language used when people insult Vickie.

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    9. Stephen I noted that I think the intention of Chikara is present women in a positive light as competitive equals to their male counterparts. But I don't watch wrestling for what the intentions were, I watch it for what the results are. More to the point the idea of presenting women as equals in the ring to men, doesn't change the fact that the particular instance I cited was horribly uncomfortable to the point where I can't imagine anyone who is not simply a die hard fanboy (or fangirl?) for Chikara disagreeing.

      This is to say nothing of the number of people who might be watching and living out there woman hating fantasies vicariously through guys who actually get to "slap a bitch"* without facing any negative consequences.

      *The line about "slapping a bitch" is something I saw someone post and several other posters agree with on another forum in regard to a man v. woman match that occurred in Chikara.

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    10. “This is to say nothing of the number of people who might be watching and living out there woman hating fantasies vicariously through guys who actually get to "slap a bitch"* without facing any negative consequences.”

      Correct me if I’m wrong as I don’t watch as much of its product as I’d like, but doesn’t CHIKARA go out of its way to make guys who take joy in beating up the female competitors in the ring for that reason, or similar reasons, look like complete jerks?

      In the midst of ‘competition’, what competitor would want their opponent to take it easy on them? Therein lies the context of intergender matches in CHIKARA: they take place in the ring under the same rules that govern wrestling matches between competitors of the same gender. Women don’t step in the ring to get tossed around by the men and say how much they enjoy the abuse; they step into the ring to fight the men on an equal playing field, regardless of the outcome.

      Yes, you can argue that some people see these matches as a way to enjoy their personal fantasies of committing acts of violence against women without actually committing such acts — but CHIKARA doesn’t market their product to that audience, and it goes out of the way to avoid appearing as if its product condones the physical abuse of women (Marchie Archie’s embarassment of Veronica at ‘Under the Hood’ notwithstanding).

      WWE has a long history of men beating up women for no good reason. Hell, Steve Austin had so much trouble getting legitimate heel heat after WrestleMania 17 that WWE had him annihilate Lita with a steel chair because she got in the ring to protect the Hardys.

      WWE also has a long history of exploiting, humiliating, and otherwise degrading women — and if I have to go over that history, well, you really haven’t paid much attention to it in the first place.

      CHIKARA and WWE treat their female performers with a differing amount of respect and dignity, and I don’t see WWE rising to CHIKARA’s level — or CHIKARA stooping to WWE’s level — any time soon.

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    11. I'm not a Chikara fan and never will be, but I tend to give them a ton of credit and think Quack is a genius and the best promoter in wrestling over the last five years. I understand your point and I don't think it's irrelevant, but I also think the presentation issue cuts both ways. Yes Satomura and Kana can have good matches with anyone on the planet, but watching Ophidian light up Saturyne with chops really comes across one of two ways "nasty shots to this woman's breasts to teach her a lesson" or "look at what I can do cuz so PC!!!" Neither feels right to me as the first feels really slimy and degrading (and wasn't helped by the commentary as I mentioned earlier) and the second comes across as the equivalent of white, liberal, college kids who voted for Obama solely because of his ethnicity (just in case someone assumes that wasn't common, I worked in politics during the 2008 campaign, including tons of polling and on the ground work and it was SHOCKING to see how often that was given as the sole reason the aforementioned group supported Obama. On the plus side it reminded me why I am an anarchist and contributed to me abandoning politics for good but I digress...).

      There is no question that Chikara presents women in a better light than the WWE and that there intentions are better. Still there is a reason Mike Bennett decking Satomura (I think?) at KoT got such a huge reaction and it wasn't because the punch looked good. Yes it was a heel act and yes the WWE has done worse, but there is something that I find really uncomfortable about that sort of thing not because I'm a sexist incapable of seeing women as the athletic equal of men, but because I'm a person who thinks that sort of man on woman violence has an audience that will find it regardless of who Quack markets to and they aren't looking for a good wrestling match.

      Intent matters, but it's not everything. If I shoot up a school we all acknowledge that I'm a piece of shit and it's wrong. If the President drone bombs a funeral and kills a bunch of kids to get one alleged "terrorist" I think he's a piece of shit and it's wrong regardless of his intent. The difference in degree here is big enough to make it a difference in kind, but it doesn't change the fact that the gender dynamics in wrestling are very complex and presenting male v. female matches in any context can lead to conclusions and responses that are far worse than The Rock calling Vickie names.

      Having said that fuck The Rock.

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    12. “the gender dynamics in wrestling are very complex and presenting male v. female matches in any context can lead to conclusions and responses that are far worse than The Rock calling Vickie names”

      In that case, we owe it to ourselves to have frank, open discussions about those very dynamics and potential responses, as Danielle as done by addressing Rock’s insults towards Vickie and as everyone here in the comments has done by commenting on this post. (By the way: bravo to everyone for keeping this entire conversation generally civil and respectful, especially when it could have gone off on a much worse tangent.)

      Wrestling fans shouldn’t avoid tough topics like gender dynamics, gender and racial equity, or even the near-invisibility of gay performers/characters in wrestling because of how tough it can get to discuss those topics. We still have a right as wrestling fans, as people who promote and support the industry with our money and attention, to call out the industry — and any specific company or performer — on what we perceive as bullshit. Whether that bullshit involves bad storytelling (see: Cena vs. Ziggler) or someone personifying the long-standing gender inequities promoted and carried out by WWE, we can and must have those conversations if we want to see the industry move forward.

      One lone voice calling out into the night may not change the mind of the ‘average’ fan, but multiple voices — voices who can back up their words by closing their wallets and turning the channel — can sure as hell have an effect.

      In order to get heard, however, we first have to speak.

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  23. A lot of commenters seem to forget one thing. A male face can get back on a male heel using either insults or physical violence. But against a female heel that interacts with the male faces (i.e. Vickie, Eve, AJ) they cannot do anything besides resort to namecalling. And since the bookers are lazy/the stories must be uncomplicated (Take your pick), the insults are the standard fare: Ugly/Nasty/Fat or Crazy/Promiscuous. (Depending on whether the said heel is supposed to look good or not.)

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    1. Well, as long as it's because the writers are lazy, then I guess it's fine.

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  24. I disagree. It's another case of people trying to sponge the fun out something because they're offended by the stupidest things.
    First off, I'm 20 years old and vaguely remember the late 90s and early 2000s, which is pretty much during the attitude era. I was at an age where I was pretty impressionable but I didn't want to walk about half dressed, I just wanted to wrestle my brother. And at that age I didn't get any of the risky stuff as I was too young and it certainly didn't offend me.
    Fast forward to only last year to be quite honest when I got back into it because of my boyfriend, and seeing the Rock transported me back to being a kid and just thinking WWE was the greatest thing ever.
    Yes it's true, the women aren't treated the same as the men and definitely are flaunted as objects, but do you think they don't enjoy it? Surely if it was that degrading to them they'd leave or complain. And I'm sure it'd cause an uproar if they were treated equally, and rather than the Rock calling her names, he just beat her up instead.
    WWE is pretty much like a soap opera (with a bit more violence), they're obviously going to create this kind of entertainment for ratings and popularity! If everyones differences were sorted out by them all sitting down and talking about their feelings, then it wouldn't be a good show at all!
    As childish this sounds, people need to lighten the fuck up about what is obviously done for entertainment and ultimately ratings. If you dislike it that much then just don't watch it.

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    1. Man, if you think it's fun to call people names based on appearance just because they wanted some peace and quiet to do their job...

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    2. Naw, it's cool Holzerman, she loved it.

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    3. In real life not particularly, but it happens, I'm sure everyone's done it. And if people don't realise this is all not real then that's their problem. If that's what kids take away from going to see a live show then, to be honest, that's on them or their parents. I knew at that age it wasn't right to call people names and try to wrestle people who I didn't like.
      Subjects like this are stupidly sensitive these days because of pessimists trying to find negatives in everything. It's supposed to be a fun show and the majority of the viewers recognise that.

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    4. “It's supposed to be a fun show”

      Wrestling promotions can put on a fun show without resorting to pandering bullshit that reinforces gender stereotypes, continues to demean anyone who doesn’t fit the description of ‘white 100% straight American male in fit condition’, and insults the intelligence of everyone who doesn’t fit that description.

      We grew up. Why can’t WWE?

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    5. All I'm saying is I can only speak for myself. I'm not offended by any of it.
      I do understand where you're coming from, and a lot of the other points made by others, but in my opinion WWE are not going to change anytime soon because they know the majority of viewers will lap all this shit up, myself included. People will always find entertainment in others misfortune, and in the case of Vickie Guerrero, she's a heel and people don't like her so of course it's funny for her to be the butt of The Rocks tauntings.
      Like it or not, it's human nature and WWE are catering to what the people like.

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  25. Actually wrestling promotions CAN'T put on a show that doesn't resort to the most White Male American stereotype that there is - namely that all conflict resolution must come through violence. Wrestling is morally questionable (at best) by it's very nature. This doesn't excuse any of the things Danielle talked about in this piece or other offensive, lazy, idiotic, et. things that have happened in wrestling. But the idea of a righteous wrestling promotion that exists outside the realm of stereotype and degradation is pure fantasy.

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    1. Ha, summarised perfectly.
      Kudos, I suck at trying to word things.

      Delete
  26. Do people really expect political correctness from pro wrestling, an industry where almost all Samoans are savages, all Black peolple are street thugs that shuck and jive, all foreigners are evil, and homosexuality is the worst thing ever? Come on. Realize what you're watching, for crying out loud. It's extremely backwards and will never change. Expecting more from what I will freely admit is garbage TV is asinine. People solve problems with kicks to the head. Not exactly high-brow viewing.

    If it's too much for you, stop watching. That's seriously the only solution because you can bet every dime you have that pro wrestling will never change.

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    1. “an industry where almost all Samoans are savages, all Black peolple are street thugs that shuck and jive, all foreigners are evil, and homosexuality is the worst thing ever”

      That sums up WWE, sure, but plenty of other promotions have started to avoid those stereotypes at all costs. I didn’t see CHIKARA try to pass off ACH as a street thug or any other awful racial stereotype at ‘Under the Hood’, nor did I see CHIKARA try to pass off any of the foreign competitors who showed up for ‘King of Trios 2012’ as ‘evil’ based on their nationality alone.

      I don’t expect WWE to evolve, but that doesn’t excuse other promotions from not picking up the slack and trying to push the industry forward into something less insulting and demeaning for general audiences.

      Delete
    2. You don't think Team Osaka Pro was working stereotype schtick? You don't think Orientalist thinking contributes to the way Japanese wrestlers are viewed as exciting "exotic" additions to your average indy card? You don't think the prevailing theme of "black guys are great athletes who jump high" isn't something that applies to ACH as much as it does (and has been pushed) with Benjamin, Kofi, et?

      Wrestling and stereotypes will always go hand in hand because wrestling is meant as an art form where individuals are representative of society on some level. Wrestling has never been about the individual sportsman divorced from the outside world competing against another individual sportsman divorced from the outside world. At it's best the stereotypes innate in the form are not degrading and/or are things that can be transcended/broken out of. Of course the endgame of that is a debate about cultural assimilation and the dangers it presents but that's beyond the scope of this blog.

      In any event we can argue that the WWE is particularly bad with their racial stereotypes and presentation (historically that's not really true in the grand scheme of things, nor in the modern era I'm afraid), we can argue the stereotypes they run with are more offensive, et. But I see no argument that Chikara and others indies don't use stereotypes in their booking.

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    3. “I see no argument that Chikara and others indies don't use stereotypes in their booking.”

      Of course they do, and I wouldn’t deny that. Hell, Marchie Archie plays into the ‘nerdy band geek’ stereotype, and Mr. Touchdown plays into the ‘jerk jock’ stereotype.

      CHIKARA uses stereotypes, sure, but it doesn’t use ones that come off nearly as offensive as what other companies use, WWE and TNA included.

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  27. LOL. I hope none of you turn on Django Unchained. The show is PG. If you watch Nickelodeon and then whine about how they stereotype crabs as evil bosses or fighting squirrels from Texas as having anger issues, well then you are trying to worry much about your enamored past.

    Folks trying to reinvent wrestling to be politically correct. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Nora Greenwald, Molly Holly, the upstanding woman who lived through WCW with insane Randy Savage and then the Attitude Era, and RIGHT TO CENSOR is quoted on the Bloodstainded Memoirs DVD as seeing it this way: Anyone who is offended or shocked by what they do in wrestling, well they shouldn't be.

    FBI, Los Boricuas, Nation of Domination, (D)Generation X... these are all modeled off of actual pieces of the world's population.

    Each of the participants in wrestling is doing so voluntarily, produced by professionals, broadcast by well established networks, and then financed by sponsors and fans. Are you really crying the blues about this industry and who they cater to? Planning to run down to the local business who doesn't hire their staff and stock their shelves representative of every culture as best they can? Why must McDonald's portray livestock as edible when they could easily drop hamburgers and just sell milk, letting the cows remain alive. What cruel profit driven mongers they are for the almighty dollar.

    There are successful women's wrestling groups, all women on the roster. There's tarot card reading places out there as well. They don't often function in a small town, because well, even suspending belief is not a universally applicable. I don't even pretend that anyone who can think and has reading comprehension skills will read what I have to say and then look objectively at how they want to sterilize everything to their view of a people who rose on the African plain and civilized much of this planet. A great deal of this world is operated, though modernized, savagely. Ultimately, like Colonel Troutman says to Rambo, you've got to come full circle and get a grip on what you truly are.

    Stop trying to run away from yourselves and thank WWE for continuously reminding you many things you want to erase about your own history.

    This blog is run is about the problems of these sort of characters. Yet, the font at the top of the page, in the header, is from Grand Theft Auto... I have a real problem taking anything they publish about serious social issues seriously.

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    1. Just because the industry — and WWE in particular — continues running on awful stereotypes doesn’t mean fans like myself, TH, and Danielle can’t ask for something better.

      “Folks trying to reinvent wrestling to be politically correct.”

      I don’t want 100% politically-correct wrestling (because it could never happen), but I’d sure as hell appreciate an effort on WWE’s part to stop treating women like shit.

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    2. This blog is run is about the problems of these sort of characters. Yet, the font at the top of the page, in the header, is from Grand Theft Auto... I have a real problem taking anything they publish about serious social issues seriously.

      Thanks for contributing, Mr. LaPierre.

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  28. The best incarnation of the FBI was actually the greatest use of stereotyping in wrestling history as it was an elaborate troll by unreconstructed Southerners of their largely Italian/ethnic Northeastern fanbase. One of the better examples of a crowd being worked and not knowing it that you'll ever see.

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  29. This is a strong point and all, good read but at the end of the day The Rock is still a scripted TV characther, revolving around a scripted TV show. WWE isnt a sport and its one of the reasons why I dont get offended in real life about the things that go on in TV. Same applies to other shows and hell, movies. It isnt going to change its ways 100%. Its one of those things you just have to sit in the back of your mind.

    Dwyane Johnson isnt like The Rock at all. A lot of the crazy stuff his Rock chrarcther says, he doesnt even beleieve. So I find it a bit overbaord that some folks are taking it to the heart and saying Fuck the guy, or saying hes shit, or even thinking he REALLY thinks like that outside of the WWE realm. Come on guys. Especially a lot of the gay stuff, he stands up for homos and encouraged them to come out. Im sure he and Vickie are cool. I know they were in on it all, especailly seeing as she was trying her best not to laugh out there. Everyone else that has done stuff like Rock is the same way.

    WWE will always do things like this, its just how its works for their TV show. I understand you want better in some areas and all but I dont think anything will change.

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    1. “Its one of those things you just have to sit in the back of your mind.”

      Normally, I tend to go by the whole ‘MST3K Mantra’ — but you have to remember that WWE markets itself to kids, and kids go to these shows with their parents. How parents act and react to what happens at the show reflects upon their kids, and I seriously doubt a majority of the parents who take their kids to WWE shows have long discussions about not judging a woman by her looks or her age.

      As Baba T points out below, the morality of WWE has skewed over the years to the point where the supposed heroes often act worse than the supposed villains — and I doubt most parents talk to their kids about that.

      “A lot of the crazy stuff his Rock [character] says, he doesnt even [believe].”

      That makes it all the worse, then. If Dwayne knows the things he says under the guise of ‘The Rock’ could prove hurtful or offensive to someone, what reason — other than Vinnie Mac’s truckloads of cash — could he possibly have to say it?

      “[I’m] sure he and Vickie are cool. I know they were in on it all”

      How does that excuse this segment, or the subject of misogyny and sexism within WWE and the wider wrestling industry as a whole, in any way?

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    2. WWE may market itself towards kids but the entire product is not a kid friendly show. Its not 80s levels. No matter how much they want to say so.

      And it doesn't make it worse, Because The Rock is a scripted TV character. Dwayne as a human being has the midset that his Rock words are just words of a character. Its the same thing in movies and other shows. Are you guys going to go off on things we see in movies and other shows now too. Come on. People are being overly critical to what is at the end of the day a scripted TV show, with characters that do not reflect real life thoughts. I just feel like people are blowing it way out of wack when it gets to the point where people are like fuck this guy when hes just playing a silly ass character that majority, not all, but majority of the people want to see.

      I get that people want clean cut faces and heels but its not like that. Hasn't been that way in years and its not going to really change. Vickie being cool with it doesn't excuse it but its still characters on a show interacting. Judging by her reaction on MOnday she sees like this, as do I, and The Rock. You and others do not, oh well thats fine.

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  30. See, wrestling is a morality play. It is just that the morality of the WWE is just.....askew. I would not have minded the Rock singing his songs and calling a woman a cheap prostitute if HE WAS A HEEL. Get it? It is as simple as that. I wanted the Rock to get his butt handed to him but because he is now a clean cut babyface...houston, we got a problem. The narrative has gone completely off the rails because the babyfaces are in actuality to any right thinking adult - heels. I want to see Cena/Rock/Sheamus get their comeuppance for their actions-now if that was the story, I would have totally bought it-WHY do I think that should be the story? Because wrestling is all about gratifying resolutions where the GOOD GUY WINS! Call me old fashioned but that is why wrestling is so awesome - you know that good guys will win - in the end. It is frustrating to watch WWE right now because we have great stories which if turned on their heads -would make for awesome television - right now we have misogynistic villains who poop in cars-what I wouldn't give to see Ziggler and AJ truimph over that asshole Cena? What I wouldn't do to see Punk stomp a hole in the Rocks 5th grade jock ass?? It would be the ultimate truimph of the intelligent nerd over the trash talking bully - but no - that is not the way in which the product is presented to us - the reason I don't care for the product right now is the fact that bad guys are presented as good guys and good guys are presented as bad guys - I feel no emotional connection when the so called good guys truimph and that ruins everything for me.
    It is sad that a true role model - CM Punk - a man who rose from nothing - a first generation wrestler - a man who toiled in front of 20-25 fans with no respite in sight - and then rose to the top through sheer hard work and grit - a man who does not do alcohol, drugs, tobaaco- is presented as the bad guy - that we are told that a man who demands respect and the top spot for the hard work he has put his body and soul through - is bad because he does so - he rightfully despises the the third generation wrestler Dwayne who gets to MAIN EVENT Wrestlemania even though he carries the greatest prize on his shoulder - but no he is a cry baby, yes, Lawler? The story that the WWE - being a pro wrestling company - should have told is the rise of Punk who comes from nothing and overcomes nepotism and boorish jocks to become the greatest hero of his generation - a true working class icon - so the kids could see Punk and believe that in this world hard work and dedication counts for something. The story that they peddle now is depressing.
    -Baba T

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  31. Thanks for writing this. It was well thought and eloquent. I hope it made some people think critically and evaluate what was being presented to them but if not I hope it was helpful to you to put your thoughts to page.

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  32. Thank you to Danielle for summarizing what many of us have been noticing with increasing regularity. As Baba T mentions above, wrestling is a morality play and one that echoes the times we are in. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable and warranted for us to discuss and debate what we like and do not like about the product because we are, in essence, discussing the problems that are mirrored in society today. How the writers portray “characters” has a direct effect on the viewer, whether they be adult males (the aforementioned core demographic), children, and some of the demographics that seem to take the most venom: homosexuals, women, and minorities (I would love to see some of their statistical analysis for viewer demographic: do they take into account live show attendance, is it a simple survey, etc). When one of the aforementioned demographics says “Hey, that’s not cool guys and here’s why” it’s a great opportunity for all of us to examine how we felt at that moment to look at why that person might feel the way they do. It’s great when we can engage with others and discuss what bothers us about a sport we clearly all are passionate about.

    Unlike Danielle I watched every single moment of the Attitude Era. I’ve been watching religiously since the 80’s so it’s safe to say I have more than a vague passing notion of the 90’s and early 2000’s. I could go on and on about my (probably) unhealthy obsession with the WWE as a young girl and into my teenage years when it was no longer “cool” to like wrestling (needless to say my wall-to-wall bedroom of wrestling posters was actually more of a turn off to guys than I anticipated. Who knew?) I did the sneaky “hey you should watch this because isn’t that guy cute?” trick to get my girlfriends in high school to watch wrestling and attend shows with me. And you know what? We liked the Rock. He was funny and a little bit sophomoric and at least one of my friends still harbors the massive crush she cultivated during those early days. We laughed when friends crotch-chopped in pictures and even put up with the fair-weather fan that couldn’t really have a conversation with you about wrestling; instead they just answered everything with BECAUSE STONE COLD SAID SO! (Sigh… )

    The problem is… it started to not be ok. As the Attitude era picked up steam, I noticed how I felt less and less comfortable at the arenas I’d been going to since childhood. As DX began to pick up steam, it wasn’t uncommon for commercial breaks on RAW to consist of the guys getting the spotlights to find girls in the audience and try to get them to raise their tops and god forbid the woman refuse. Walking through the arenas with my younger sister, the word “puppies” was used more times than I could count. It was just an icky feeling and I stopped going to shows for many years (because, god forbid anything have happened to me or my little sister it would probably have been our fault for putting ourselves in a ‘dangerous’ situation without a man to protect us and/or we were asking for it). I could look at what I once enjoyed and see how perhaps DX and the Rock and others weren’t “just having fun.” It was bleeding into the way the fans, particularly those in the arena, treated the targets of the “jokes.”

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  33. Lately, it seems that the WWE Creative staff has increasingly relied on these homophobic and misogynistic remarks instead of actual storytelling and plot. Is Vickie a heel? A woman who uses her place of power to the advantage of her stable? Yes. She’s the bad guy, we’re supposed to boo her. So have the Rock can come out and sing some stupid song about how nobody wants to hear her loud screechy voice interrupting all the time, since that’s what happened backstage. I’m sure he could rhyme it with some sort of breakfast cereal. Because that’s her shtick: her loud obnoxious voice. But what the fuck does her being “fat” have to do with anything? Or calling her a hooker? You say “Oh Vickie knows she’s not fat, she’s getting paid to put up with it.” But you know who’s not? The girl who gets called a fat hooker by a boy on the bus for no reason other than we’re at the “I like you but I’m going to insult you stage” and he’s been taught that it’s perfectly reasonable to call someone fat, a whore, gay, etc. What about the guy who chooses to wear a pink shirt because IT’S A FUCKING COLOR AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEXUALITY who gets called a fag. Damien wears pink so he must be gay ahahahhahahaha. Paul Heyman can’t see his penis because he’s fat and has tits. AJ dates and breaks up with multiple guys in a year so she must be a dirty crazy slut.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t try to push your Be A Star initiative when the same guys saying how it’s not cool to be a bully, go on tv and make the very comments they’re telling kids not to do. So, what we’ve learned is that it’s not okay to be gay, be sexual or be fat (regardless of gender). Wow, that’s a pretty large section of your audience you’ve just insulted. But if you don’t like it stop watching. Don’t ask the people who create something you enjoy as a sport to try to be better than that. Just deal with it because it’s the way it’s always been. Oh it’s “wrestling” so it’s okay? No, it’s not. It’s a reflection of society and if it’s not okay in real life then it’s not okay here. Bullying is a real problem and it’s getting worse. How many of us here were bullied as kids? I bet almost all of us, probably for liking “FAKE WRESTLING” at some point. Imagine how it must be now, where it’s not over when you go home. It follows you on the internet, your phone, etc.

    Am I saying that the WWE is the cause or can cure all of the woes of society? Of course not, that would be ridiculous; but how about if it’s one place where it’s not ok. Where the sort of good guys call out the sort of bad guys and say it’s not cool to call someone fat or gay because you disagree with them. Why can’t they use valid arguments to back up their superiority in the ring? Wouldn’t it be great if we taught everyone that debates work better with facts and figures and not just spouting catchphrases BECAUSE STONE COLD SAID SO!

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  34. So when the Rock shows up, spewing the same crap from the beloved Attitude era, continuing the path the Miz, Cena and Sheamus have been on, it’s not ok. I don’t want the arenas to go back to the way they were. I don’t want a large segment of your viewing audience to feel marginalized and demeaned. I want the “heroes” like Cena to admit that Hustle, Loyalty and Respect means respecting individuals and women too. When they’re bad you don’t stoop to their level. You rise above hate without spewing your own and that is what makes you a better person. I want a verbal sparring match to not have resort to the same sophomoric name calling we’re trying to teach kids/teens not to use. My coworker’s son has started to watch Saturday Morning Slam and she asked me if it would be okay to watch the other stuff too. I had to tell her the truth; you’ll have to watch it and probably explain what is not okay to translate into real life. I hate having to do that. I hate having to make excuses for something I love and am passionate about. I just want the product to be something that the rest of the public can look at and maybe not understand, but not look down on as the entertainment of the lowest common denominator. Maybe it’s too much to ask but I’ve spent far too long loving professional wrestling to stay quiet and hope for the best.

    TL;DR- Let’s stop cheering horribleness and start treating everyone with respect, even when they’re in the wrong.


    (Sorry this ended up being so long it had to be three posts… I have lots of feels about the Attitude Era I wanted to include and I'm not as eloquent as many of the commenters or Danielle :) )

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    1. You obviously put a lot of thought into this, so I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience. This is a really good companion piece to Danielle's.

      And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for addressing the common dismissives of, "If you don't like it don't watch it" "It's never going to change so stop your whining" etc. I do not tolerate homophobic, racist, or misogynist language in my everyday life, and I will not tolerate it in my fictional entertainment (unless, of course, the person using said language is framed as being in the wrong, which never happens in WWE).

      Wrestling isn't something that I just stumbled into and can just as easily back out of. It's something that I've loved for years and I want it to be something worth loving. I don't think that's much to ask.

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  37. the author clearly has issues she needs to address within herself and the rocks character reminding her of all the people who picked on her as a child have brought those up. this is entertainment, good or bad if you dont like it then CHANGE THE CHANNEL

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    1. Yeah! How dare Danielle have an emotional response about a sports program in which the company strives to elicit an emotional response from its viewers (in addition to attempting to forge a connection between the characters and said viewers) and then discuss it with a well thought out and articulated response about why it affected her the way it did. It's not like the WWE is constantly trying to find out what we think of a their product with various social media endeavors or something. Sheesh lady.

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    2. Thanks for your thoughtful response to the phrase "sports program."

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  38. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense for the WWE to bring The Rock back...and ya have to admit that his "Yabba Dabba Do" remark was pretty cool!

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  39. I haven't read ALL of the comments, so I apologize if this has already been said, but it's not just the women who are insulted for the way they look: Daniel Bryan's beard, Cody Rhodes' moustache, the way Damien Sandow dresses, calling the Big Show fat. All superficial insults. And how many times have other wrestlers insulted each other for not having "the cajones" or "the grapefruits" for doing something, as if insinuating that they have small man-bits is a reflection on their performance in any way? There are SO many sexual insults leveled against men, it's offensive to read an article that seems to imply that calling Vickie Guerrero a prostitute is so much more outrageous than The Rock telling someone that they have a small penis.

    Is the WWE homophobic? Yes. Misogynistic? Sure. Sexist? Definitely. I'm not arguing against anything you've said, but I think that it's unfair to call out the WWE for horrible treatment of women when you're really talking about a company that offends every demographic in some way or another. How is a sexual insult that much "worse" than saying that Cody Rhodes' moustache looks like a caterpillar or that Daniel Bryan looks like a hobbit (men can, in fact, be VERY sensitive about their ability or inability to grow facial hair, myself included). And how is hurling sexually charged insults any worse than calling Steve Austin "trailer park trash" just because he has a Texas accent?

    Characters in the WWE are assholes. They rip on *everyone* for the way they look, they takes shots at *everyone* in one sexual way or another, they use the origins/home towns of *everyone* to make some racist or bigoted remark. I agree with the points in this article - and many of the comments - that no, this is not okay or good. But it's unfair to say that the content of the WWE that degrades women is "worse" than the rest. How is portraying a female as weak any "worse" than the sheer existence of Hornswaggle, who is a man in his thirties that gets put into storylines in which he's forced to act like a small child because he's short? Why is it so awful and wrong that manure got dumped on AJ Lee, but it's fine that it got dumped on Dolph Ziggler? Why is calling Vickie Guerrero a prostitute worse than Antonio Cesaro declaring that Americans are stupid and awful? The answer: these things are no worse than the others.

    I'm not going to argue against your article, but I hate the point of view that "it is SO AWFUL" when women are victimized/marginalized, but it's fine when it happens to men, or certain races, or other groups of people. I'm a nerd; do you think I never felt marginalized in the mid-90s, when playing video games or watching Star Trek were basically labeled as the worst possible things a person could do by basically all of society? Do you think I didn't notice when The Rock constantly belittled Michael Cole for every quality he had that I shared with him? Do you think that because you're female, you're entitled to more outrage than others?

    If you're going to say that the WWE is awful, then say it. I'd agree! But it's not awful because it's misogynistic. It's awful because it's bigoted in EVERY way. Misogyny, homophobia, racism, and so on and so on: the big picture is that the WWE is awful because of a LOT of things, equally. I see it as a step back for feminism and women's rights when outrage is leveled against an offensive company specifically for its sexism, not for the fact that it's an offensive company. Call a spade a spade, but don't take the tone of "well, WWE does a lot of mean and terrible things, but they're bad because THIS THING THEY DO TO MARGINALIZE WOMEN."

    Join the club: it's not just women they marginalize and offend. It's pretty much everyone. But that's just my two cents; maybe something to think about. Well-written article overall, I just wanted to voice some disagreement.

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    1. You may not have noticed in your eagerness to make this all about you, but Danielle does mention the other forms of terrible behavior that the WWE casually indulges in. And I quote: "What that same veil obscures, however, is blatant homophobia, exploitation and degradation of women, and more than a little racism..." However, this article is specifically about The Rock's attitude towards women, how it contributed to nostalgia for the Attitude Era, and Danielle's personal experience with it as a woman.

      There is writing on this site and on others that does deal with the very real issues that men and boys face with the hyper-macho image that the WWE presents as ideal. No one is trying to marginalize your experience. Please ensure that you likewise do not try and invalidate the experiences of others.

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  41. Wow, let's see who we've got here among the dissenters:

    1) one guy who is so insistent in pointing out that there are bitches in this world that I would not be surprised if his OKCupid profile states he's a nice guy who really knows how to treat a lady

    2) a white guy who views his victimization as a nerd as comparable to sexist, racist, and sexual-orientation-based oppression (someone please educate me on Nerd Jim Crow laws, nerd profiling, the wage gap between nerds and non-nerds, and the movement by the religious right to ban nerd marriage because I feel like I should have known this already)

    3) a young woman who basically says "yeah the women are mistreated but they must like it because they're still there" so I have to assume she has no idea how disturbingly close that is to rape apologism

    4) a guy who chides us for taking things too seriously and wishes us well in life for "stressing out" over social justice issues because his life has probably been so charmed and privileged that he sees nothing wrong with remaining willfully ignorant to issues that affect a fuckton of people daily

    5) one person of indeterminate gender parked at Derailment Central with awkward, reaching, nonsensical comparisons to Django Unchained, Spongebob Squarepants and Grand Theft Auto

    5) lots of "if you don't like it don't watch it!" because it's silly to complain about the things you like being god awful sometimes

    6) lots of "things will never change so deal with it!" because the best strategy for changing the things you don't like is to passively deal with them

    7) the overall implication that people who are mad about something offensive are totally humorless and have serious personal issues they need to deal with because gosh women I know you've heard the word "bitch" directed at you since 198-Always but can't you see the funny side of that???

    Danielle, I'm so sorry that these people lack both basic reading comprehension skills and any shred of empathy.

    Here’s the bottom line: society does not exist in a vacuum. It didn’t become the way it is through spontaneous generation. People are socialized by mass media, and mass media in turn is informed by society. I know you’d rather enjoy life than be angry about things, and trust me, I LOVE being happy, but did you know that your life is not the only one that matters? Did you know that the people who are angry about the things they see and experience WANT to enjoy life but, hey, obnoxious and awful social ills like racism and sexism prevent life enjoyment?

    Think about it, or don’t. Just keep in mind that the unexamined life is not worth living.

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    1. Obviously point 3 is meant to be me.
      That's not what I was saying at all, what I meant was a lot of women enjoy the attention they get off men. They know they're hot and in the case of Eve recently, she used that to try and get Booker to help her keep her title.
      In my opinion, the kind of women who are Divas are happy with their body image and enjoy showing themselves off.
      Like I said in one of my other posts, I do agree with some of the points made but surely if the Divas weren't happy with the way they are treated they would have left by now.

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    2. Also your 2nd point and taking the piss out of what he said. Effectively you're doing the him what you say WWE are doing to women. Perhaps he was bullied for it? Bullying is bullying regardless of what for, and he's just making his point about that. Yes it's not on the same scale, but it could have really affected him.

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  42. UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWR !!!!!!!!! UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH !!!!!!
    WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY ? WHY DOES DANIELLE HAVE TO HAVE A BOYFRIEND BEFORE I MEET HER ? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY ?

    SHE'S THE MOST TRULY BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECTLY JUST LIKE ME PERSON THAT I EVER KNEW OF HIS EXISTANCE AND NOW I LOVE HER AND HER GENIOUSNESS AND TALENTS AND PASSION AND EVERY OTHER THING ABOUT HER TO DEATH AND I'M ABSOLOUTLY NOT JOKENGLY READY TO DO ANYTHING .. ANYTHING EVER AND GET HER EVERYTHING SHE'LL ASK FOR IN THE WORLD JUST TO SEE HER SMILE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    BUT SHE'S ALREADY TAKEN AND I CAN DO NOTHING NOR SHOULD I DO ANYTHING EVEN IF I WANT TO JUST TO GET HER IN MY LIFE !!!

    I just want to say, that whoever you are who got danielle's heart, you're the luckiest and most furtonate person on god's grean earth ! and you shouldn't ever even make her less happy than she was any second ! and if you dare to just think of making her beautiful eyes shed half a tear from anything other than happiness then I'll cross the seas and come to take the chance and take her from you !!! so, be careful ! (or don't ... because I don't wish danielle to get sad and break up with her love ever just so that I can be with her ! I wish she'll stay happy and get much more happy with every second forever)

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  43. When I, by chance, looking for this weeks TNA came across the segment with only the Rock ann a guitar. I was excited to see , since I haven't watched WWE since he was on the PPV last year.

    I was devasted. Felt it was cruel and debasing thing to do to a woman, any women and to a legend's wife. WWE has been singling out Vickie for a while now and they keep getting meaner and meaner. I can't believe they toute 'Don't be a Bully!' on one hand and then do the bullying in front of the entire world and their young fans. As a male fan for over 25yrs I hate this more than any thing Vince has ever stooped to doing.

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