Hulk Hogan was recently booted from the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) for racially charged rants dating back to 2012 and 2007. The only real surprise is that we’re just hearing about it.
Now we know four things about Hulk Hogan. He’s a racist, he used (uses?) steroids, he’s a bit of an over-actor, both in the ring and on the screen and he’s a professional wrestler.
When I was a kid, wrestling wasn’t the spectacle it is today. Wrestlers didn’t wear garish outfits, they didn’t fly off the turnbuckles and they didn’t go after each other with folding chairs.
It was a much more sedate event with outcomes that seemed somewhat legitimate, “somewhat” being the operative word.
So that no one misunderstands the mission of today’s WWE, the biggest professional wrestling organization in the world, the word “Entertainment” is plugged right into its name.
In a sense, professional wrestling in 2015 is a more honest presentation than it was back in…well, when I was a kid.
Wrestlers today are supremely conditioned, well rehearsed and subject themselves to all manner of physical injury. The fact that they know who is going to win the match before they step into the ring doesn’t diminish the entertainment value one bit.
About 700 words into an 800 word post I did on the antics of Donny Trump, I mentioned a comment about Trump made by then host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart. You can read that post here , if you haven’t already.
One of my readers, who we’ll call Chilly Willie today, picked that one reference out of the blog and commented, “Jon Stewart is as much of a journalist as Hulk Hogan is a wrestler.”
Chilly Willie went on to say that The Daily Show was hypocritical, although he didn’t say why. His tone seemed angry, but I couldn’t tell if he was angry at the Hulkster, at Stewart or at me.
Could have been all three of us.
NOTE: In a subsequent email, Mr. Willie said that he was annoyed at how many Americans got their news from The Daily Show. All I can say about that is that if it weren’t for the Comedy Channel, those folks would probably never hear any news.
“Hypocrisy” is defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.” From where I’m sitting (in my kitchen right now), I don’t see how that applies to The Daily Show.
Hypocrisy would be a politician, a Speaker of the House, for example who is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and is later found to be paying huge sums of money to cover up a homosexual relationship he had with a minor.
Or a political party that thinks government should stay out of their lives, but control the lives (and vaginas) of those who don’t share their religious beliefs.
Or how about that Scott Walker, Mr. Fiscal Conservative, who just gave $400 Million of Wisconsin taxpayers’ money to a sports team?
NOTE: I looked, but could find no study ever conducted that showed publicly funded sports stadiums returning money to the public coffers.
The paradox Chilly Willie unwittingly presents is saying that Stewart is a journalist like Hogan is a wrestler. Since we know that Hogan is, in fact a wrestler, that would mean that Stewart is a journalist, which he is not.
Jon Stewart has never purported himself to be a journalist and the Comedy Channel has never represented itself as a news organization. Hence the word “comedy” in the title.
Comedians calling out politicians is nothing new. Rowan and Martin pioneered the format back in 1967 with their show, Laugh In. There was even a “news” segment they called “That Was The Week That Was.”
Now we have Saturday Night Live and “Weekend Update.”
Late night talk show hosts since Jack Paar start their shows with monologues that typically include a little political satire. Sometimes it’s all political satire.
For all his originality, Stewart mostly took the Weekend Update format and stretched it into an entire show. Sitting behind a desk as if he’s a news anchor is part of the joke, unless you don’t get it. Did you ever notice that you never see any German or politically conservative comedians?
Steven Colbert ran with that format and now he’s the host of CBS’s Late Night.
If Chilly Willie was trying to say that Jon Stewart is not a journalist, his point is well taken. Very well taken, as it would be if he said that Tom Brady is not a podiatrist. Or that Oprah Winfrey is not an astronaut.
Did you know that Stewart played Adam Sandler’s roommate in “Big Daddy?”
Jon Stewart is a comedian and politics is his stock and trade. It is a time honored tradition going back to William Shakespeare and has been honed by such greats as Lenny Bruce , Richard Pryor and Lewis Black.
It could be that Chilly Willie is a huge FOX News fan and hates Stewart for making them the object of his attacks. I still chuckle when I see those two words together, “FOX” and “News.”
The spin probably stops somewhere, just not there.
It might be that Stewart’s presentation of events doesn’t have a spot in Chilly Willie’s mental filing system, which is not expandable. Hulk Hogan, and probably all of WWE don’t have a place in the file marked “wrestling,” as they don’t fit Mr. Willie’s definition.
And therein lies the rub.
The world is not a simple place and there are things out there that defy our own definitions. The differences between a comedian and a news anchor can be subtle. Professional wrestlers may be one step removed from that sport as it appears in high school and collegiate competitions.
There’s a reason that Olympic wrestlers are required to maintain their amateur status.
It’s a small world, but it only gets smaller if we refuse to expand our definitions and reject everyone and everything that doesn’t conform to our preconceived notions.
I wonder if Trevor Noah ever wrestled.
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