Originally posted by Big BadSNL and In Living Colour were late-night comedy shows, not PG-rated "family programming" like WWE.
If my memory serves me correct, (and thanks to the intarnet, it does!), In Living Color was on at 7pm (CST) Sunday nights. I'd think some families watched it at that time. When ILC was done, The Simpsons took over that timeslot, and I think just a few families have watched at tat time, too.
I have been debating on whether or not to respond to this. But I think that I have some interesting points I could add that could generate more discussion. I fully acknowledge that many of you reading the below will probably NOT agree with me; I humbly accept that and am donning my flame-proof gear right now.
Disclaimer: I (Tricia) am a 37 year old married adopted Korean American female. From the age of ten month old I was raised by conservative Dutch Calvinists in the Midwest. I am probably the LEAST culturally Asian person I know.
I actually have never like the “Lord Tensai” character at all. It reminds me too much of all of the old attitude that Hollywood cinema used to have with the portrayal of Asians back when they would use non-Asians in “Yellow Face” to portray “exotic” -and usually evil- stock characters and stock stereotypes. Again, I realize that pro-wrestling is rife with stock characters like this. But I know that I am not the only one annoyed; didn’t Yoshi Tastu get depushed and forced to delete some tweets after he became offended by the character too? It is annoying to hear Michael Cole (and therefore Vince) go on and on about how Lord Tensai was not Japanese and how they never claimed him to be Japanese. But the history of cinema in America makes my mind take the same jump no matter what Cole/Vince tries to convince me.
But in general, this is a personal pet peeve that actually flows beyond pro-wrestling into regular entertainment too. It begs the question of why are you dressing up someone to be something they are not when you could easily get someone who actually is that play the same role? Granted, I realize that this is something that doesn’t irritate everyone like it does me. (Wait, why do I even *like* pro-wrestling at all?! Why am I still watching it after all these years?! LOL)
After I heard about this character before he premiered, I wondered how long it would it would be before an incident like this would happen and how long it would take for WWE to somehow f@ck this up. Whenever WWE tries to do something “edgy” and “controversial”, they usually end up with a bigger mess to clean up (Muhammed Hassan). And Matt Bloom, God help him, isn’t a good enough actor to pull this off (Eugene).
I never ever had very much faith in Vince to be able to pull off really controversial ideas without it blowing up in his face. I guess this wouldn’t be such a big deal but….
… The last time I heard, the WWE was trying to get a foothold in China. Do they have one yet? I don’t personally know what the attitude that the Chinese people have towards the Japanese people, but all it could take is an online rumor that “Vince hate Asians”, and he could lose momentum in the Far East. (Just imagine the money if even a fraction of the current Chinese population became WWE watchers and each one bought one piece of merchandise.)
… This doesn’t help things here at home either. Granted, I agree that this tout isn’t the most racist thing I have seen on the internet yet, but it doesn’t help my opinions either. It is yet another reminder that Vince doesn’t really seem to care for his fans and what their opinions are. And that makes me want to not give Vince any more of my money than I absolutely have to. I have always watched WWF/WWE for as long as I can remember. And yes I am a hypocrite because I always probably will. But it is stuff like this that makes me not want to buy merchandise, order ppv’s, or see live shows on principle.
I have been noticing that there is a ongoing discussion about the fact that the WWE is trying to go “PC” with it’s content. I think that for better or worse, wrestling fans will get PC WWE from now on, even after November elections. The one thing that Vince seems to crave seems to be acknowledged as “Mainstream” and “Respectable”. His long term goal always seems to pull pro-wrestling as far away from its carnie/circus tent roots as he can. And mainstream and respectable entertainment organizations that want a primetime audience have to be PC today. To a certain extent, he seems to be succeeding. But that can be a double edged sword because when stuff like this happens, more people notice and you do have to apologize and fast. Sincere or not, the quick apology was the correct response.
(Getting Linda elected to the senate: would that be the ultimate validation that you are “respectable”? Is that why she is allowed to piss away so much of their money on her campaigns? Too obvious…?)
Also, Matt Bloom’s personal character is called into question as well. Unless I find more/better evidence, I am not going to jump to the conclusion that he is racist either. We need to remember how powerless the majority of WWE workers actually are. Is he going to take the fall for someone else’s bad idea? (Daniel Bryant’s first firing) Did a genuinely known racist make a dumb suggestion to him that he felt he had to listen to? (Michael Hayes/MVP/Mark Henry) Who thought up these two characters and did Bloom and Kazma/Sakamoto even really want to do it? (Chavo Guerrero/Kerwin White) Or was this the price they both paid to have the chance to work in the WWE? If WWE is one of the last pro-wrestling employers on earth where a person can earn at least a livable wage in the USA, then should I judge harshly a man who is a parent who gets pressured into saying/doing something stupid?
(Actually, the more I think about it, the more and more the tout doesn’t make any logical sense. If you hate Asians/Japanese that much, why are you going to the wrestling ring with Japanese painted on your face and on your ring gear?)
Maybe in the long run, this should be a discussion about the nature and usefulness of “kayfabe”. Tensai/Matt Bloom was speaking in kayfabe when he made this tout. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier on the wrestlers/entertainers themselves if they would just finally come out and admit that these are characters they portray and that is not how the people actually are. Actors on TV aren’t expected by their producers and show-runners to portray those character off the set whenever they are in public. How much longer will we expect wrestlers to do the same? (Serena’s Deeb’s firing is the best example to come to mind right now.)