Wrestling With a Racist Stereotype
He frequently discusses such topics as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, amidst the backdrop of a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag, and a constant refrain of ‘We the People’.
But he’s not a Tea Party member.
He is a white man who detests others “with faces not like mine”, those that have crossed our borders but cannot speak the same language, and wonders how we can get rid of these people.
But he’s not racist.
At least that’s what the creative minds at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) want you to believe.
Jake Hager, who wrestles under his character name of Jack Swagger, has had his in-ring persona as the ‘All-American American’ kicked up a notch, being transformed into a ‘Real American’ and adding what wrestling critics have called “a xenophobic and slightly racist manager named Zeb Colter.” Colter is portrayed by former wrestler Wayne Keown.
But this is the world of make believe, the world of ‘sports entertainment’ and the WWE has made a career out of amplifying unfair stereotypes to create controversial characters and storylines.
And believe it or not, FreedomWorks had a chance to discuss the controversial character with the WWE creative team – and they want you to know that this is much ado about nothing … Swagger’s character is neither a Tea Party member, nor racist.
The WWE explains:
“WWE characters may, at times, amplify stereotypes in order to create drama, conflict and rivalries with other characters, however the characters Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter have not been cast as Tea Party members or racists.”
So what does a character surrounded by Tea Party swag, shouting ‘We the People’, and having a nasty disposition towards people with faces unlike theirs, represent exactly?
“The characters have been cast as having strong conservative convictions.”
It just so happens that those “strong conservative convictions” have led Swagger to target the Mexican American character, Alberto Del Rio. Having the conservative character play the role of heel, or bad guy in this storyline, has allowed the WWE to build Del Rio’s character into a hero, something the company desires due to their “large Latino base, which represents 20% of our audience.”
The WWE also raised the bar however, buoying Swagger’s character as a right-winger by adding conservative commentators into the mix, and by extension also implying that those personalities share the same racist beliefs.
During one of Swagger’s matches, commentators Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler joked that he and his manager probably get fan mail from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
Beck responded on his Blaze TV program, ripping the WWE for creating a “stereotype of a conservative that I’ve never met”.
That’s when the storyline begins to get a bit surreal.
Feeling slighted by Beck’s criticism, the WWE issued a challenge – an open invitation for Glenn to appear on their Monday night wrestling show, Raw.
Swagger and Colter even cut a promo directed at Beck, with each man making statements in full character mode, then breaking character to address charges that the entire storyline is the work of “stupid wrestling people”.
In the video – seen here – Beck is once again invited to attend the show.
In a statement to The Blaze, and in typically sarcastic fashion, Beck responded that he is “currently booked doing anything else.”
The WWE states flat out that they do not consider members of the Tea Party to be racist, and they take exception to the notion that they would create such a persona.
“We do not create racist characters.”
History says otherwise.
In 1997, a group of wrestlers known as the Nation of Domination (NOD) emerged. The group was based on religious and racial stereotypes involving the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party, and featured wrestlers that adopted Islamic names and headgear. This wrestling team – their most famous member being The Rock, Dwayne Johnson – would frequently eliminate members that they considered ‘not black enough’, creating what their leader referred to as “Bigger, Badder, Better and Blacker”.
In 2004, wrestler Mark Copani was introduced under the ring name Muhammed Hasan, a Muslim-American wrestler which utilized religious and racial stereotypes to further the heel role. Hasan’s ring antics would involve extending his hands and praising Allah. In one memorable televised moment, Hasan began “praying” on the ramp, and multiple masked men, dressed in black shirts, ski-masks, and camo pants, led an assault on one of his opponents. The incident reminded many of videos in which terrorists are typically seen wearing ski masks, and occurred around the same time as the London bombings of 2005. The angle, and Copani’s character, were removed from WWE programming shortly thereafter.
And in a storyline similar to Swagger’s, John “Bradshaw” Layfield (JBL) earned himself a title shot after cutting a promo on the border between Texas and Mexico, where he tried to garner a “Great American Award” by hunting for incoming illegal immigrants.
The new Swagger angle is different however. It was designed to get a reaction from an audience themselves that likely do not consider the Tea Party to be racist, and in fact, likely relate more to the Tea Party than most television audiences.
On his radio show, Beck wondered:
“Maybe that’s the way WWE people view the Tea Party. And maybe they love to hate the Tea Party. But I have to tell you, I expect that from Hollywood, but I don’t expect ‑‑ if I’m getting my entertainment from somebody that I think is on my side ‑‑ and I’m sorry, I just don’t see a bunch of progressives going and buying their tickets to the WWE. Do you?”
It is an odd creative decision to be sure. What makes it more perplexing is that there is no need to add any racial element to a Tea Party character. They could emphasize adherence to the Constitution, or the concept of actual legal immigration, without referring to the different faces they see in this country.
And the audience would likely respond in a positive manner.
But that wouldn’t create controversy. And that’s what the wrestling business is all about.
Of course, many of our readers are probably asking themselves, ‘Why does any of this matter? Wrestling is after all, just wrestling.’
Sadly in today’s world, many people get their information and facts from news programs on a station like Comedy Central, or they have their history re-written by the liberal cesspool in Hollywood. There is a segment that will identify the characters of Swagger and Colter and assume that Tea Party members or those with “strong conservative convictions” are racist … that they really are bad guys.
It is a cultural issue, and an audience for a popular entity such as the WWE is being told to dislike a character because he is a racist with “strong conservative convictions”.
That is a problem that we need to wrestle with.
Cross-posted at FreedomWorks