An Open Letter to the McMahon Family

Dear Vince, Linda, Stephanie, and Shane,

We are a team of writers who view wrestling as a legitimate form of theatre and write about it from literary, economic, political, and artistic angles. Our blog is inspired by “The World of Wrestling” by Roland Barthes, which we’re sure you must be familiar with. We are spearheading a unique niche in pop culture studies that we like to call “wrestling theory and criticism” and are shopping around a book proposal based on this blog. We get thousands of hits a month, and while we are not solely focused on WWE, it is the primary subject of most of our writing.

We grew up with your product, and have always found it to be a source of heroes and emotional catharsis when we most needed these things. But in this historic moment, we can no longer overlook the way you have allowed your reckless carny-corporate aesthetic to spill out of the ring and into the realm of shoot American politics.

You highlighted Donald Trump as a character in your early nineties wrestling storylines, and drafted him into your Hall of Fame. We’re not the only ones who think his experiences in wrestling taught him how to be a bombastic speaker who knows how to seduce and rile a crowd; numerous outlets such as The National Review, The Washington Post, and Salon.com (to name just a few) all see the parallels as well.

We see that Linda proudly supported Donald Trump, and the Washington Post notes that she donated $6 million to his campaign:

Meanwhile, Vince and Stephanie have recent tweets from the #BeAStar anti-bullying campaign on their timelines:

And yet, since the election, our Twitter feeds have filled with dozens of stories like these:

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The stories and pictures keep coming. These people being targeted for bullying, threats, and violence since the election aren’t out shaking their fists at a protest. They aren’t cutting political promos on a street corner, looking for trouble. These are average people attempting to go about their lives with Donald Trump elected as president, and they are terrified. Many of them are children as young as kindergarten facing hateful taunting at school, where they will surely continue to hear the tone-deaf catch phrases of some ineffectual anti-bullying campaign, perhaps even the one backed by your company.

The irony here is just too much. You erased Hulk Hogan from your official history for much less than what is going on in the streets of America right now. As long as human beings are being attacked in the name of Donald Trump for their race, religion, gender, disability or sexual identity and you aren’t owning your role in it, we just can’t write about your product anymore.

This is not about political differences. This isn’t even a “we can’t in good conscience” sort of thing, because, let’s face it, we’re accustomed to tolerating the heartless “best for business” decisions made by your company. Your messages are simply so broken at this point that we don’t even know how to engage with them anymore. We have friends in the wrestling community who are fearing for their lives right now. How can we giggle about The New Day’s child-friendly innuendo when high schools are getting covered with graffiti that says things like “Fuck Niggers” “Trump Train” and “Whites Only”? How can we enjoy the revolution in women’s wrestling when there are men gone wild out on the streets, threatening to grab bypassing women “by the pussy”? We’re not taking issue with some racist or sexist character or storyline you didn’t think would be a problem; we’re calling you out for a monumental disaster that taints your product to its core and has a devastating impact on your audience and ours.

We feel like you need to assume accountability for your substantial monetary support of Donald Trump’s campaign, as well as the venue of simulated violence you gave him years ago in which he honed his skills at crafting a threatening message like the one that has now sparked an epidemic of real, non-kayfabe violence. Your anti-bullying campaign needs to evolve as well, away from the dopey, school-friendly template that doesn’t really impress bullies into something hard-hitting and effective that specifically targets this current wave of hate and violence that is sweeping the country.

Luckily we’re living in an era of abundance in the world of wrestling, so this isn’t a death knell for our project here at The Spectacle of Excess. We’re looking forward to switching gears and exploring various independent, lucha libre, and puroresu promotions, which we’ve always wanted to find more time for anyway. We will also continue to write about and support artists and other creative wrestling fans whose art is inspired by your wrestling. It’s just your art we can’t write about while this is going on.

You don’t want to be stuck on the wrong side of this particular moment in history. Please find a way to take responsibility for the mess you’ve helped create.

Yours Sincerely,
The Spectacle of Excess Team

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