WWE is now facing criticism from all sides, but mostly from the conservative media, on the Zeb Colter character, a xenophobic racist who manages Jack Swagger recently repackaged character.
Essentially, the entire gimmick is a shot at the Tea Party and there are those waiting for a mea culpa "any minute now" while calling this a major public relations blunder. FOX News spent some time on one of its shows, The Five, having a gay old time blasting WWE for what they're doing and generally poking fun at professional wrestling.
The worst of them, however, was likely Alex Jones, who ranted and raved on the subject at InfoWars.com:
"This is part of the divide and conquer tactic of cultural subversion to manufacture racial division and to characterize the Tea Party, conservatives, libertarians, opponents of uncontrolled illegal immigration, and constitutionalists as racist, extremist radicals who should be pushed to the fringes of the political discourse. Now the demonization runs so deep that it's even being bolstered by WWE wrestling. The fact that WWE is owned by Vince and Linda McMahon, who are part of the Republican establishment, also tells us a lot about how grass roots conservatives and libertarians are viewed by those near the top of the power structure."
In response to all this, WWE issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter:
"WWE has a long history of creating fictional characters that serve as either protagonists or antagonists, no different than other television shows or feature films. To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines. WWE is creating drama centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view to develop a rivalry between two characters. This storyline in no way represents WWE's political point of view. One should not confuse WWE's storytelling with what WWE stands for, similar to other entertainment companies such as Warner Bros., Universal Studios or Viacom."
That statement could have been greatly shortened to simply read, "MARKS!"
WWE isn't doing much more than using the old standby argument that hey, none of this is real, it's no different than a movie, and you shouldn't be getting all that upset by it. That's the name of the game in this industry. The performer takes a topical issue relevant to the times, creates a character out of it, makes you despise said character by spewing ridiculous nonsense, you cheer for the character who opposes the bad guy, and the good guy ultimately triumphs.
The problem comes in when during the course of the bad guy being the bad guy, his message is spread to those who don't realize they aren't supposed to take it too seriously and that it is, in fact, nonsense. There's a thin line pro wrestlers have to walk and the onus is on WWE to set the boundaries.
Then again, it's just a television show with fictional storylines and fictional characters carrying them out.
It's a fascinating debate, Cagesiders, so let's hear your thoughts on it.