EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, March 17, 2000
Silent contempt directed at TSN
Whoa, maybe I should back up for those who find themselves lost. Let's start from the beginning.
This past week, when Buh Buh Ray Dudley was about to powerbomb Mae Young through a table, TSN cut the feed to all sorts of abominations, from an Edge promo to shots of the crowd to WWF Slam Jam. In fact, it wasn't even 'just before' the powerbomb, it was the moment Buh Buh wheeled Mae Young out toward the ring, and for the duration of several minutes, Canadian fans were clueless as to what was going on in the ring.
In truth, this isn't the first time that TSN has subjected us to boring, canned programming while something too racy was going on live, and it probably won't be the last. But for whatever reason -- I suspect the sheer boredom pushed some over the edge -- people are up in arms this week, ready to take action against TSN. What kind of action seems to depend on who you talk to, but since we're Canadian, silent contempt seems to be the worst it gets.
All week, I've received angry emails from people demanding I put TSN in their places, because, as you know, various television networks like to read internet commentary and then adjust their content accordingly -- and immediately. Well, maybe not, but I can still be the voice of reason. Or my version of the voice of reason, sort of a low baritone.
Alas, I'm beating around the bush for a reason. I suspect that there are some who won't appreciate the response. Regardless, here it is: Take a chill pill, seriously.
The fact of the matter is, RAW is too racy sometimes. I don't mind, I rather like it -- when we're not talking about Mae Young -- but you have to realize, TSN is a national network that could just as easily be showing hockey or curling at that hour. If people are expecting that kind of content, then TSN is at serious risk of alienating their fans by showing some of the stuff they do on Mondays between nine and eleven.
An argument could be made that since we demand it, we should be able to see it.
Effectively, that demand is being satisfied by showing RAW at all. Nothing else on the network is anywhere close to the kind of stuff we see on Monday Night RAW, but they show it anyway.
A second argument could be made that any kind of censorship is bad.
If I'm not mistaken, there are guidelines as to what can be shown on Canadian television, and there are boundaries that the WWF often skirts with their shows. So TSN has two choices: Let sleeping dogs lie and hope the WWF doesn't push the envelope too far for the CRTC (the Canadian regulator for communications), risking having to take the whole show off the air if they do, or do their best to cut out the parts that are most likely to violate those rules and offend viewers, and hope that no one notices.
In reality, of course, everyone notices. And everyone is angry, seemingly. I would go out on a limb to suggest that it would be better to get Monday Night RAW minus the Mae Young skits than to have some ranting and raving parental groups on our hands, as we have had in the past, only this time with enough ammunition to get the WWF off our Canadian televisions for good.
One of the big reasons that people are so ticked this time around is that TSN has also been repeatedly showing the Marty McSorley hit from Vancouver -- over which he will apparently face serious criminal charges. So the argument goes, that hit was real and thus more violent than anything on WWF television.
My response to you: If the WWF shows enough violence of their own brand, people start to emulate it. I'm sure some people out there have tried powerbombs on their little brothers or sisters. Showing that Mae Young, eighty years old after all, can take one suggests that anyone can, right? Well Young at least used to be a competent wrestler and would thus be rather able to take a fall, and Buh Buh Ray Dudley is a trained professional who takes the whole hit himself. But who knows whether everyone can tell the difference.
I'm not even preaching that this week, I'm just saying look at it from TSN's point of view. They could have an angry mob on their hands, as we've already seen in Winnipeg, when children began to emulate not the moves but the catch-phrases, if they show too much of this stuff.
But meanwhile, the McSorley hit, aside from showing people that criminal charges can result from sports brutality, is not glorified at all, showed repeatedly for the gruesome attack that it was. People see stuff like that, they aren't quite so likely to repeat it. In fact, it may act more as a deterrent.
So they drew the line right at the worst segment of the entire show. Could've been worse. They didn't exactly cut off the main event. This is Mae Young we're talking about.
When they cut off The Rock's spiel, and people start throwing things at their television sets and showing up at the TSN offices to protest, then we'll talk. In this case, I think we're making a mountain out of a Mae hill.
That's it, that's all. Here's the mailbag.
Dale Halvorson, from email@example.com, writes:
"Great column. Except for the last line.
Until things change or another alternative comes along I've switched off the big three (never have watched ECW)."
For the record, the last line of my column was 'It's not like I'm going to stop watching, but I figure I should at least complain.'
It's true. Dave, I think you have me beat in the 'putting money where mouth is' department. Either you never liked wrestling as much as I do, or you have a lot more will-power than I.
But I hope it never comes to that. I'd hate to have to stop watching the stuff. Actually, not watching something because it's not good for someone else really doesn't form a huge part of my beliefs system. I'll bring it up, even broadcast it over the internet, but I won't change my own personal viewing habits because of it.
Jerome Mckenna, from firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
"I thought you had a great column last week on Foley/Mankind/Cactus Jack; but I have to ask: do you feel guilty watching action movies? It's a fairer question than you think. Action movies are filled with stunts that are very dangerous to do; and are in fact performed by stuntmen. Sure these stunts are not performed in front of a live audience and there are a few more safety standards in place; but which would you rather do:
1) Take a fall from the top of a cage through a table
2) Flip a car going 50 KM per hour such that it bursts into flames (intentionally) and you sit there on fire waiting for your safety crew to put you out before your thermal protection fails.
I don't think anyone can deny that stunts in movies have gone farther than farther than before. And action movies constantly strive to beat the last great stunt. If you are an action movie fan; then aren't you driving these stuntmen to perform more outrageous and dangerous stunts on a regular basis? The list of stuntmen that have been injured or that have died on a movie shoot is long; still no guilt?
The reason why is simple enough; you never see the stuntman; you feel like you know Mick Foley. All wrestling fans do; he is such a good actor and articulate writer that you can't help but know him. But like the stuntman; Mick chose to do what he does. He likes it. He enjoys it. And I think he may even need it. Perhaps someday; he'll regret it. But it was still his choice. And I for one won't feel guilty over what another person chooses to do for a career."
A few good points, but a few logical flaws, too. Are you upset by a homicidal murderer who slits the throats of every woman he sees? Sure, even if he's the villain, he's supposed to shock you a little bit.
Now tell me -- are you upset by the same character if he's the hero? I wouldn't be able to tell you, because in the movies I see, the heroes don't go around beating their women. No, no, that's Kane.
And in the movies, it's set up so that none of it is real. Those punches? Not even any contact, despite the ludicrously loud noise. And I couldn't care less, I still like it. But it's even faker than wrestling. It's not live, it's set in a studio, and these guys are even better at their craft (stunts) than wrestlers are at that same craft, since wrestlers also have to wrestle.
When we left the movie The Beach, my girlfriend told me that she didn't like it because she didn't sympathize with the protagonist. Imagine how bad she might have found it if the protagonist also tombstoned his ex-girlfriend.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading. As usual, write in and let me know why I'm so wrong and stupid this week, and you have yourself a good week.
Send email to email@example.com.