Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Legitimacy of Wrestler Apologies

Hulk Hogan has apologised for the racist tirade that he made nearly 10 years ago, as well he should have. It was hard to hear that one of your childhood superheroes would go off the handle were you to date his daughter. The tape cost him his job at WWE, to the point that anything Hulk Hogan-related has been scrubbed from WWE.com; there isn’t a wrestler bio, no merchandise, not so much as a mention of even the Incredible Hulk, and he’s coloured! Officially, WWE has stated that, “WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide”.

I do not know if Hulk Hogan’s apology is sincere or if it is just PR damage control in an attempt to get back his job. I don’t know if he is as racist as that tirade was, or if his views have evolved in the last ten years. I’m definitely not defending anything he said or did. That shit was terrible.

However, I would like to know, When did the World Wrestling Entertainment apologize for all of the racist shit that they have done since they were founded? Yes, WWE is “committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds”, but they have always done so by exploiting and stereotyping the hell of out them! Remember the 1980s and 90s? The Iron Sheik is a caricature of what rednecks think Arabs people are. Muhammad Hassan was as well, just after 9/11. How better to stoke anti-Middle Eastern hatred than by having them get beat up in a ring by steroid-addled white men? The Junkyard Dog was black man in a dog collar and chain leash! How about Kamala, a large black man dressed in leopard print and acting like an African “jungle savage”, complete with a valet dressed like a European big game hunter? What about Saba Simba, yet another “African savage” stereotype? How about the tactic of having a black wrestler paired with a pretty white female valet (Ron Simmons & Sunny), not to promote ethnic diversity, but to stoke the very anger in there less evolved fans for which they fired Hulk Hogan? Who can forget the Mexicools? Does anyone remember when Rowdy Roddy Popper dressed in half blackface when going up against a black wrestler who had earlier bested him? Chief Strongbow was a wrestler who was supposedly Native American, but he was actually Italian American. Even Tatanka, an actual Native American, was a caricature of himself. But who would expect much less? Cryme Tyme were a duo of “thug” black men. They were around in THIS century. And let’s not forget Virgil, essentially Vince McMahon’s black lawn jockey. HE WAS HIS SLAVE. This doesn’t even touch the amount of times WWE has exploited women and used homophobia as a trope. This is just the racist stuff.

If someone can point to me where the World Wrestling Entertainment has apologized for all of the racist shit that they have perpetrated, I would love to see it. Perhaps if someone can verify that they also fired Michael Hayes, who has a long history of racist tirades, pre- and post-dating Hulk Hogan’s, then maybe their firing will be legit. If neither of these are possible, then it seems WWE’s code of ethics is about as real as their wrestling.

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