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Cup of coffee in the big time: Conversation trumps cancellation for WWE Crown Jewel

For all the articles I’ve written about WWE’s profit over people trip to Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel and what’s likely to be another day of pro-abusive government propaganda on Fri., Nov. 2, I’m not advocating for cancelling your WWE Network subscription.

Hell, I’m not even suggesting you abstain from watching the show.

The event is happening, if you are a wrestling fan, there’s reason to want to watch the event. And you can absolutely watch without supporting the attached propaganda. In fact, the greatest weapon in the arsenal of those who oppose the show is not cancellation, it’s discussion.

Discussing the WWE’s decision to move forward with their relationship to a government that touts their “progressive” decision to allow women to drive and then jails women who protested for that very right, that executes activists and minorities at an almost unheard of rate, that murdered and dismembered a journalist on foreign soil — discussing those things and making it impossible for the story to just “go away” is valuable.

There are discussions to be had surrounding the old idea that there is “no ethical consumption under capitalism.” And the idea is front-and-center in many corners of the entertainment world.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is freshly out and Rockstar Games going back to the well of forcing employees to undergo “crunch” (ridiculously long hours down the final days/weeks/months/year of a game) to complete the game is an abusive labor practice. This was discussed widely among gaming media and between gamers, and while no one wants to support a company that does this, people also want to play the game, experience the art and ultimately support the developers whose bonuses are tied to the performance of the game.

These are not one-to-one comparisons by any means, but the fact is most forms of entertainment come with an ugly side — though most don’t actively involve paid propaganda from a repressive government.

From a 2017 article at Medium by Dr. Eleanor A. Lockhart:

I don’t believe in a moral imperative to boycott anything. Perhaps I’m wrong about this; perhaps I should cancel my Netflix subscription over the racism in Iron Fist and a number of other original features by the service. But I’m not going to do that, because I’m a storytelling animal, as rhetorician Kenneth Burke famously described all humans. I need stories to live — to make sense of my world. As an autistic, ADHD person with PTSD, I really need stories. So I’m going to consume them when Netflix and Newscorp and Warner Brothers and Disney crank them out. But, I agree with the axiom insofar as it says that if I were to find some particular liberation in Iron Fist, that doesn’t excuse its racism or make me watching it a support of any moral agenda besides me having fun.


I usually try to frame this in a positive light: paying for good things is good, paying for kinda bad things, as long as they’re not reprehensible, is fine as long as you personally get some real benefit. But I think the moment we say there isn’t any way to ethically create change within the capitalist system, we leave one of two options: we somehow escape or defeat capitalism (anyone up for an underwater city? That’d work well I bet!) or we simply give up and support bad, harmful things without question or criticism.

Far more effective than taking your $9.99 away from the network when WWE has massive TV deals and roughly $40 million from this show alone is simply forcing the spotlight to remain.

The conversation being had by wrestling fans and media is what led to the story being picked up by larger mainstream media outlets and that attention potentially leads to pressure from sponsors, network partners and influencers the WWE actually cares about.

The fight isn’t over because Crown Jewel will go on. We just can’t let the Saudi deal fade into the background once it’s over, it will pop up again and again for the next decade and the discussion and pressure should be constant.

And know that without that pressure, WWE wouldn’t hide the words “Saudi Arabia” away like some evil curse and John Cena & Daniel Bryan may go along with business as usual just like Greatest Royal Rumble.

The conversation matters.

Go forth and conquer your Tuesday.

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