In professional wrestling it seems that casual racism is perfectly acceptable. Multi-millionaire Vince McMahon has built a company that turns blatant racism into something that is apparently high in entertainment value.
The most recent example I can think of is the wrestler R-Truth. As a crowd-pleasing gangster-rapper, he was a very popular character, but in order to turn him into a baddie, or ‘heel’, as we wrestling nerds would call it, he took on the persona of someone who was angry at the world and believed there was a conspiracy against him. He began to jump into the crowd, throw drinks on the children, and light up cigarettes on live TV, showing blatant disregard for and social rules and etiquette. This controversial change in persona has on one hand fit in to a very negative stereotype of black people, but on the other it has catapulted him to superstar status. Sadly this isn’t a unique example of the racism that we have seen in the WWF/E over the years.
John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Mexicans
JBL was a well-to-do Texan who claimed to be the ultimate patriot, and we saw how ‘patriotic’ JBL was when we sat on the US/Mexico border looking to catch illegal immigrants trying to come into America. He singled one Mexican out of the ‘herd’ and kicked him to the ground. Very entertaining indeed…
HHH vs Booker T
This one is just disgraceful. Not only does HHH ask Booker T to entertain him and “do a little dance for me” because “that’s what he does,” he goes on to say to Booker T’s job is to make people like him laugh. This promo was steeped in racism and even at a young age I found it very difficult to watch. He made fun of of Booker’s ‘nappy hair’ and kept saying ‘you people’. No justice was served in the end as Triple H retained the title at Wrestlemania despite his horrific comments. How can this happen? It’s almost as if he was sleeping with the boss’s daughter at the time. Oh wait, he was!
As if to spit in Booker T’s face, he was involved in yet another moment of disgrace for the company in this next clip. Vince McMahon was having a backstage chat with then WWE Champion John Cena and asked “What’s good in the hood?” However this was not the moment of shame, though it did make many cringe. Vince then goes on to say, “Keep it up, my n***a!”, with an onlooking Booker T there to hear him say it. Shocking!
WWE is not some racist organisation ran by an evil man. It is however an extremely powerful organisation ran by an idiot. The stereotypes it sets, and the comments it makes do have an impact on viewers. It outrages viewers who are switched on enough to realise how wrong these incidents are, it shows blatant disrespect for and ignorance towards its employees, but most importantly is demonstrates behaviour that young and impressionable children may find acceptable in the real world.
The power and influence of professional wrestling cannot be ignored, the organisation must realise it is neglecting its moral and social duties.