Monday, May 4, 2015

On Michelle Beadle's Fan Card, Domestic Violence, and Empty Gestures

Beadle has turned in her fan card and for good reason
Photo via Getty Images
Michelle Beadle used to be a huge fan of WWE. "Used to" are the operative words because she conspicuously announced on Twitter that she was turning in her "fan card" for the company. It was the latest in a campaign of awareness against boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who has been convicted of domestic abuse several times and usually skated with sentences laughably lenient compared to the damage he's done to victims who can't defend themselves as well as his average opponent. She was willing to sacrifice press credentials for the fight with her principled stand (seriously, Mayweather's camp attempted to block her and Rachel Nichols from getting credentialed because they spoke out against him), so it's not surprising that she would give up a fandom of WWE because people within the company, especially Triple H, not only supported Mayweather, but used company time and airspace to show signs of goodwill towards him.

Beadle's gesture should come as a wake-up call for WWE, a company that loves the mainstream media and attention from it. As much as the company publicized her when she was on board and a fan, people in the boardroom should take her public disavowal of fandom as a huge hit to its, ugh, I hate this word, brand. It's not like the company is explicitly ignorant to the problems of domestic violence, at least right now. In the wake of the National Football League's own scandal with its players wantonly wailing on women on a far inferior level of physical might or fighting prowess than those preying on them, WWE was more proactive in establishing a domestic violence policy than the NFL even was.

But in supporting Mayweather, a convicted abuser who more importantly is a recidivist and an an unrepentant one at that, WWE shows that its written word is a paper tiger. The teeth are too feeble to bite into anything more substantial than a thin layer of skin. If a WWE employee, god forbid, ever abused his/her partner, how would it look when the people doling out the punishment are also the ones who threw weighty support behind a guy who has been caught and punished for abusing his partners and who will probably do it again? The hypocrisy is staggering. Furthermore, it could also signal that WWE threw out a domestic violence policy just to appease the masses or look like it had its shit together, when behind the scenes, people in the company could not care less about the plight of the abuse victim.

Basically, Triple H especially has shown WWE's hand, and Beadle has called them out on the company's empty gesture towards punishing and eliminating domestic violence. How WWE reacts will be telling. If Triple H, Vince McMahon, and the rest of the crew continue to act like nothing has changed, then it will show how little they care about victims of abuse at the home. If they come out and publicly distance themselves from Mayweather, it might seem like too little, too late (especially since Mayweather is being raked over the coals for reasons other than his shitty behavior towards his companions), but at least it will be a start. Still, it's not to say WWE is in a catch-22. Doing too little, too late can still be a net good if it means the company works towards remedying its outlook for abuse victims in the future with more than just a toothless-seeming policy. And in the end, Beadle will have done some real good through her public breakup with WWE as a fan.