They just can't help themselves in the slow to change wrestling business. You would think through being affiliated with the high profile Be A Star anti-bullying campaign that WWE and their performers would change their behaviour accordingly, but that hasn't been the case.
Though they're not scripting homophobic jokes anymore thanks to GLAAD intervention, that didn't stop Michael Cole and even CM Punk from foolishly using gay slurs in a public environment to mock a colleague and a heckler, respectively. Moreover, WWE completely misled GLAAD with regards to how they were punishing Punk, giving them the impression that they weren't renewing his contract over the incident and insisting that his departure from the company wasn't a storyline.
Then there's poor Vickie Guerrero. We've detailed in the past how she's had to put up with mean spirited jokes about her weight, particularly when she had the gall to temporarily leave WWE, for poor pay. Since then she's lost over fifty pounds in weight and gotten herself into tremendous shape for a lady of her age, but still the fat jokes persist. Just this week on Raw we had the following exchange between Dolph Ziggler, Vickie's on-screen love interest, and Jerry "The King" Lawler who is too lazy to come up with any new material:
Ziggler (to Vickie): You do complement like a nice garnish on a steak and usually people stay away from the garnish and enjoy the steak and everybody wastes.
Lawler laughing: I knew the conversation would go to food when you're around Vickie Guerrero.
Ziggler: Vickie Guerrero's in better shape than you King, I don't know why you keep making those jokes. I think she's in the second best shape of this entire desk.
Lawler: You're right Dolph, round is a shape.
She's far from the only WWE performer who has had to endure scripted catcalls about their weight, usually to send a message to them to shape up, even though by normal standards they're perfectly healthy. The most infamous examples include Molly Holly being made fun of for having a "fat ass" and Mickie James being christened Piggy James by Michelle McCool (who it's worth noting was once hospitalised for symptoms found common in anorexics). Talk about sending the wrong message about body image.
Find out about who Lisa Wright is and why woe betide her for pointing out WWE's anti-bullying hypocrisy after the jump.
Fortunately for WWE currently no-one important pays much attention to their programming (unless they ask for it by Linda McMahon running for political office again), yet alone what goes on behind the scenes, which means that most of the time such poor displays go unnoticed. Well, not until someone points it out to them. Which is how we come to Lisa Wright, the managing director of the Council for Unity, who was recently made aware of WWE's penchant of scripting fat jokes. This provoked her to write the following letter, which was originally published on f4wonline.com on Thursday but has since been taken down, asking for her organisation to be disassociated with the "Be A Star" anti-bullying campaign due to their affiliation with WWE:
I recently received an e-mail regarding your alliance with the WWE. The e-mail pointed out the "fat jokes" about Vickie Guerrero. Wrestling as I perceive it consists of name calling and threats culminating in violence to settle conflicts. How does this fit with your mission to `Show Tolerance and Respect?' Are you saying this behavior is alright for entertainment value? As an employee of a member organization listed on your website, your questionable judgment reflects poorly, not only on you, but on all the organizations listed there.
As an organization whose mission is to prevent violence and bullying, we must be careful who we partner with and what messages that partnership sends. As we look for funding, ways to market our mission, and new partnerships, we must remain aware of the cultural forces that impact those that we serve. Furthermore, we must be sensitive not to promote the very negative behaviors that we have spent our professional lives trying to prevent. I fail to see how an alliance with the WWE will do that. We must be aware that in our business, as in life, actions speak louder than words. The WWE may, in principal, be against bullying and the violence that so often accompanies it, however, the very nature of the business is not conducive to a culture of inclusion and peace that we here at the Council for Unity seek to create. To that end, we respectfully request the removal or our organization from your web site.
Apparently this letter wasn't meant for public consumption, which may explain why it has since disappeared from the f4wonline.com website. It looks like the person who made the original complaint to Wright was CCd her email response, from this person Dave Meltzer obtained her message and published it without asking. But the damage had already been done as other sites like Diva Dirt had picked up on the story and publicised it, probably resulting in a deluge of emails from WWE fans standing up for their beloved company, despite Wright having the record straight to begin with. I'd imagine there would also be pressure from the Be A Star Alliance and WWE to make a public climbdown and that's exactly what's happened in an email to the Diva Dirt website:
Yesterday, a letter that I had written, that was never intended to be made public, was. In the letter about my perceptions regarding the alliance between the Be a Star Alliance and the WWE with regard to bullying prevention, it was never my intention to disparage the Be a STAR Alliance, the WWE, the wrestlers or their many fans.
After careful consideration and research on my part, plus some intelligent feedback from some of the loyal fans of WWE, I realize that perhaps I reacted too harshly and without enough information. I have been reminded that the important issue is the prevention of bullying and the protection and support of those that have been victimized by it. Ultimately, my own actions, intended or no, have had a negative impact.
In the spirit of tolerance and understanding, which I have been reminded I must practice as well as preach, I hereby offer an apology to the Be a STAR foundation and the WWE. I also wish to rescind my request that my organization be removed from the Be a STAR Alliance website. There are often many ways to reach a goal; the important thing is that we support each other on our journey.
Again, I sincerely apologize.
That's quite an impressive trick, making the person who deserved an apology, apologise instead. I wonder how WWE did it?