Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Podcast Deep Dive: Straight Shoot, Nov. 10

How can you watch WWE when it supports this guy? Sitterson and Famuyide discuss
Photo Credit:
Show: Straight Shoot
Episode: 11/10/16
Run Time: 1:29:02
Guest: Kazeem Famuyide

Take a mental trip back to last week - that was a weird time, huh? Nothing felt real and anything felt possible. The world had spun off its axis and flew somewhere off into the solar system.

On Tuesday night, as hope dwindled and the vodka I drank blended with the naturally occurring spinning of my head, pro wrestling seemed like the last thing I could ever think about and enjoy. The next day, as I tried to recover and become my normal self again, I remembered hearing that Vince and Linda McMahon had donated $6 million to Trump's campaign. This remembrance hurt me.

It also hurt Straight Shoot host Aubrey Sitterson, as he promised to open his weekly podcast with a lengthy discussion about this very topic with former editor of and founder of STASHED, Kazeem Famuyide. If you are diametrically opposed to Donald Trump and everything he stands for, should you still be able to give money to WWE and keep a clean conscience? Or is this same issue confronted by those who still enjoy the music of R. Kelly despite knowing that he almost certainly was a serial statutory rapist? Do we always need to separate art from the artist?

These are questions that may never get definitive answers, but Sitterson and Famuyide do their best on this episode to try. Famuyide points out early on that as a Black man who watches WWE, he has had to be swallow some gross content. "To be a Black wrestling fan, sometimes you have to love your abuser," he says. "Every once in a while, WWE will do something to remind you that not only are you in the minority of who they're marketing towards, they will almost certainly go out of their way to insult you in one way or another." Cryme Tyme, Kamala and Akeem the African Dream, you know?

So if this is nothing new, why does this Trump thing feel worse? Famuyide says that through the people he has gotten to know who work for WWE, he believes that being a person of color places restrictions on your ability to succeed. "The way they're treated is kind of a microcosm of my biggest fears about this Trump presidency." It might be that because Trump is very real and his influence will be very real, what WWE stands for and practices might hit too close to home for those of us who look to them for escape.

As for Sitterson, he plainly says that if he wasn't doing Straight Shoot and producing content for his Patreon donors, he probably would stop watching WWE now. "It would be the push I needed because there's so much content. A lot of it is just kinda spinning its wheels. And because of the increase in WWE content, it's made it more difficult for me to keep up with other stuff I like - not just wrestling, but, there are fuckin' books I'd like to read." He is probably echoing the sentiments of many here, definitely myself. I hardly watch RAW or Smackdown anymore, and I beg of you to believe me that I'm not being a snotty wrestling fan by saying this. I have a baby now, and it's just I need to see the same shit every week? I'll just wait until the PPVs, watch the highlight packages, and get on with my life. Meanwhile, I'll be investing less time in a company that wanted Donald Trump to be the damn President.

And are we supposed to boycott WWE because they gave money to Trump? It's up to you, both host and guest say. Sitterson admits that he regularly listens to Ted Nugent, despite him being a complete lunatic now. "It is a wholly personal choice. I don't think you can or should judge somebody because they're able to compartmentalize differently than you do. The fact of the matter is, if you boycotted everything that was made by a company that did things you didn't agree with, you'd have to go live in a cave somewhere."

Sitterson hits the sad truth of our lives. We are at war with everything, even much of the entertainment that helps us get by. We can only make the choice that feels right for us. Famuyide says he is watching less WWE, but even he can't guarantee that he'll fully stop.

Conversations like the one in this episode are necessary for all wrestling fans. It doesn't matter what happened on RAW or Smackdown or NXT last week. We can put that aside for a bit and talk about what is happening in this crazy world, and how we can begin to consider processing it. I gave major thanks to Sitterson and Famuyide for taking the time to converse about a tough topic and be honest about their own inconsistencies. Better honesty means better conversation. Let's do more of that.