Wrestling with Manhood: Boys, Bullying & Battering
I only caught bits and pieces of this documentary, as it was on at the same time as Raw, so I'll refrain from making any personal comments. The description, from Free Speech TV's website is as such:
Drawing the connection between professional wrestling and the construction of contemporary masculinity, Wresting with Manhood shows how so-called "entertainment" is related to homophobia, sexual assault and relationship violence. They further argue that to not engage in wrestling in a serious manner allows cynical promoters of violence and sexism uncontested role in the process by which boys become "men".
Has anybody watched this? I haven't found a replay date yet on FSTV's site (it apparently played on the 26th and again on the 28th) but they tend to repeat shows. I've e-mailed them and inquired about the next air date, if any. I'll be sure to pass that information along to the board when I get it.
For those that don't know, FSTV is on channel 9415 on Dish Network and is also shown part time on various cable access channels (see the site for details) but I don't believe is available on any other satellite providers.
The documentary was produced by the Media Education Foundation, a group which appears to produce documentaries of a similar nature on many subjects. Here is the page specifically for the video. (I don't expect to see anyone ordering it, though, as it's $150 minimum, apparently they only cater to institutions, not individuals.) They apparently have a free preview in Real Video format, but I'm on a really slow connection so I can't tell you what that contains.
As I said above, I didn't see the entire thing, so I can't accurately judge it. There were a few things I did see that I didn't like, though. (Yeah, I said I'd refrain from personal commentary, sue me.) As evidence that showing women physically assaulted on television leads to real life violence against women, they showed several purported fans talking about how "she deserved it" and "she had it coming" in regards to HHH beating up Stephanie after their on-screen breakup. To me, it was clear that these fans were talking about the character and were fully aware that it was a fictional story, but the documentary played it up like these people enjoyed violence against women. They also explicitly stated that Steve Williams beating of his wife Debra was a result of him being unable to distinguish between real life and his fantasy character of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
They also made claims that the women's division was nothing more than Bra & Panties/Mud/etc matches. I'll cut them some slack there, however, as the video was apparently released a year ago would have been made just as the women's division was starting to gain some respect.
And now that I see that the video is a year old, I'm wondering if this is old news that I just somehow missed. If so, I apologize. I'd heard the news in the last several months about the reports linking pro wrestling to all variety of bad things, but this was the first I'd heard of an actual documentary on it. Hopefully, I'll be able to watch it in it's entirety in the near future so I can develop a more fully informed opinion on it.
Well this was talked about in IWC circles many times 'Verse, maybe even here on the WB. But since I can't recall it being discussed recently, some thoughts.
Sometimes our society, here in the western world, scares me. The worst thing about it, as a whole and without question, is the coarse and perverse refusal on the part of many, many people to accept any responsibility whatsoever for the things that happen in our world.
The most peremptory example of this problem is the "blame everything" campaign that just about everybody had endorsed at some point over the past twenty years. They've blamed the continued degeneration of society on video games, various forms of music, TV, movies and just about anything else within the ambit of an accusatory, hypocritical finger.
Wrestling was not immune to this. Once anything becomes popular, it almost invariably invokes the ire of certain opponents. But what intelligent human being could possibly believe that a child will see an image and then immediately duplicate it in reality without a single delay or flash of introspection? There are too many people these days who, while somewhat justifiably distracted by their consuming work lives, opt to let the TV raise their children in lieu of doing it themselves. You have to have some kind of rudimentary influence on your kids, you have to instil in them some understanding that what works in a fantasy world will not work in reality. If a child is so void of logic that they do not understand the difference between fantasy and reality you must share some of the blame. And if you do your best, say all the right things, and the kid still goes off the deep end and does something terrible why not face up to what must inevitably at some point become the conclusion we all come to: that the child is just bad.
I've seen about every documentary on serial killers out there, and they all make a passing if unconvincing attempt to explain why the person went on to do what s/he did. There is no accounting made for anomalies in almost any documentary product. It's always this and this caused that and that, which then led to such and such, as if some simplicity can ever be applied to human individuals. Maybe we'll never know what causes a person to kill 15 innocent people, but I don't buy for a moment the idea that being raped or yelled at or abused is a reasonable explanation. There is no representative for all those many, voiceless thousands who were also raped or yelled at or abused and whose exposure to such anathema and iniquity did not make of them rapists or yellers or abusers in their own rights. Bad things, very, very bad things, happen to all of us. Some of us, not most of us but certainly more than hardly any, are victims of obscene sufferings. We think the really bad things happen to other people, but those other people are someone's friend, lover, or son, or daughter, or whatever the case may be. And if you look hard enough you may well find that those other people are people you know. But how many people do you know that kill?
Humanity has a widespread beauty simply in what it is, but all esoteric applications aside, some people are just garbage. Now, serial murder is a far cry from "wrestling perpetuates violence" but it's not quite as far a cry as one might think. I mean, Lionel Tate's defence used wrestling to explain murder. Wrestling has been specifically cited as the cause of a child's death. There is no personal responsibility in that. There never is. Blame the image or the TV show, because that image or TV show is faceless, it is not the incompetent parent of such a child who must forever exist with the burn of knowing their incompetence cost human life. Or, if competent, perhaps face the possibility that despite their best efforts from their loins sprung neither a hero nor a future builder of the community, but an amoral predator.
That "blame TV" ideology sickens me and I apologize for going on such a lengthy tirade about it. This video, from what I've seen of it, does much of the same kind of finger-pointing but I come back to my main point. Seeing a woman beaten up on a wrestling show cannot make a person beat a woman up in real life. That potentiality must already be within the person who does it. I'm not defending wrestling for putting that stuff out there, I'd just as soon never have it on a wrestling show again. What I am doing is refusing to believe that some TV show can take a person who is otherwise peaceful and well-adjusted and make of them a hurtful criminal.
Steve Austin is who he is. He beat a woman in something other than self-defense, and he should seek help. I don't believe he has done that. He has publicly downplayed the severity of his actions, saying it was all "blown out of proportion". Unfortunately he continues to be a fixture in pro wrestling, and gives propoganda videos such as the one you mentioned considerable feul. I will never have any respect for Steve as a human being. But all that being said I don't think professionally he should be denied a chance to make money for something that went on personally, and has been, legally speaking at least, amended.
(edited by Hogan's My Dad on 30.12.03 0244) I'd tell you to kiss my ass, but I don't want to get it infected.
I worry that Sandman will get so thin he'll become Sam Houston. I'm glad AJ has a chance with the belt, and I'm glad to see the company trying something distinct from WWE: a small champ. The runs-in are just so old hat though.