Michael N. Todaro
What happens when you humiliate a woman on live television? If you're "The Rock," you get high fives and belly laughs all around. Rock on!
This is probably better suited for one of my "Meltdown" posts, but fuck it, this can't wait.
I enjoy watching pro wrestling, particularly WWE's Monday Night RAW, which more often than not, delivers the goods on a weekly basis. I had a lot of problems with the promotion's "20th Anniversary Show" back on Jan. 14 from a production standpoint (this post just about sums it up), but its most egregious sin is the hazing that infiltrated the broadcast under the guise of comedy.
If you laughed at the "Rock" concert, then shame on you.
Nothing is more "electrifying" than a terse, biting promo and when push comes to shove, "The Rock" can do it as good -- or better -- than anyone on the roster. But what did Vickie Guerrero have to do with building up his Royal Rumble match against CM Punk?
Not a damned thing.
She was a part of the aforementioned "concert" because she asked Rock and Mick Foley to "shut up" when they were in the hallway earlier in the evening, screaming like a couple of banshees about the good old "Attitude" days. That was her crime, asking for a little peace and quiet.
In return, Rock brought her out in front of an arena full of people and called her an ugly bitch.
Fans at home and in person roared in approval while the Twitter hashtag #RAW20 spit out "Rock Rules" tweets like some form of digital confetti. But when you strip away the ha-has and the tee-hees, you're left with a man calling a woman an ugly bitch in front of all his friends.
That folks, is Bullying 101.
Vickie has no recourse. Real or kayfabe, it's not like she can wait for Dwayne Johnson backstage and cold-cock him behind the curtain, nor can she tell on "The Brahma Bull" and get him in trouble with the boss. Why? The boss is the one who rubber-stamps this shit!
I wonder how Eddie Guerrero would have felt if he could have seen his wife out there, bravely playing her part and taking it like a champ while the entire "Universe" laughed at her because she was ugly.
We're better than that.
I know the knee-jerk reaction for some fans is "Hey, no one is forcing Vickie to be a part of these skits," and you're right, but this isn't a defense of Vickie Guerrero. It's a plea to every man, woman and child who watches WWE programming to follow Owen Hart's lead and say "enough is enough and it's time for a change."
This is the "wrong attitude" era.
WWE likes to whitewash its transgressions with highlight packages showcasing all the charitable work its employees are doing with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the "Be a Star Alliance," which carries the tagline, "Don't be a bully, be a star." Right.
In other news, Philip Morris wants you to quit smoking.
So, why didn't Rock bring Vickie Guerrero out in front of the live audience and tell her she sucks as a Managing Supervisor? Or that she needs to shut the hell up because no one cares (or it doesn't matter) what she thinks? Because that, my dear Cagesiders, would have required a genuine effort, coupled with comedic timing and a humorous point of view.
In short, it was much easier to generate a cheap pop by just pointing and laughing.
Part of the problem is that nobody has the balls to look at their friends and neighbors and say, "Hey, you know what? This doesn't feel right." I used to be one of those chaps. Too timid to speak up because I didn't want to be "that guy" who is the "pussy" or "doesn't have a sense of humor."
Those days are over.
When I took down my own personal firewall, I couldn't believe what got through. I'm a white guy, so other white guys think it's okay to tell me racist jokes. "Hey bro, two n-words walk into a bar..." Or because I'm a big, burly man I get "Dude, you see that cum dumpster sitting at the end of the bar? Sweeeeeeeet."
No, actually, it's not sweet. It's reprehensible.
I understand that in the broad spectrum of things, what Rock said to Vickie was small potatoes, just like when the untouchable John Cena told the world that Antonio Cesaro was inferior to him because the United States Champion sports areolas the size of dinner plates.
Hey, he's different than us. Let's make fun of him!
I'm not asking anyone to picket the next WWE event, nor do I want to demonize Rock for his goofy song. My goal is to get the rest of the "Universe" to overcome what I believe is a mob mentality and recognize the difference between something funny in a WWE skit versus something cruel and humiliating.
An excerpt from Roger Ebert's evisceration of Dice Rules:
"Crowds can be frightening. They have a way of impressing the low, base taste upon their members. Watching the way thousands of people in his audience could not think for themselves, could not find the courage to allow their ordinary feelings of decency and taste to prevail, I understood better how demagogues are possible."
I watch modern professional wrestling because I enjoy the human element behind it. The drama, the theatrics, the combat ... it's my weekly catharsis and I look forward to it. Even in my thirties, I'm usually not embarrassed to tell people I still follow WWE.