A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
WWF Tough Enough
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Has anyone been following the WWF’s Tough Enough? For those of you who are not wrestling fanatics, Tough Enough is a television show/competition being held to find the next World Wrestling Federation (WWF) superstar. Applications were taken from people all across the globe. The television show proceeds along the lines of all of the other MTV- spawned, reality shows in which complete strangers co-habitate and are given a similar goal to accomplish. There is only one winner, and the winner will receive a contract to be the next WWF superstar.
The show seems much more like a horror movie than anything else because, with exception of those who quit of their own volition, the black competitors were the first to be eliminated. Now, I have been following this on the Internet and on MTV, but there is much more, behind-the-scenes activity going on than what is shown on television or on the web. So I have no way of knowing the overall performance of the competitors in order to better gauge who should be dismissed and in what order. But the fact remains that there were only a couple of black competitors, and they were the first ones kicked off the island.
These days, you have to be very careful about where you point the finger of racism, and I’m not so sure that professional wrestling would be the place to point it. After all, the current WCW title-holder, Booker T, is black.
Recently, Vince McMahon purchased World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), which were the only two other professional wrestling organizations other than the WWF. The three are now unified as the one major professional wrestling organization in this country.
While I can’t blatantly call the organization racist, I can bluntly state that they use racial – and often negative – stereotypes to promote characters. Currently, they have a token Negro, Booker T, who was formerly one half of a black tag team known as Harlem Heat. The WWF champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin, is a beer-guzzling redneck who’s known for his crass words and rude behavior. Ron Simmons’ character, Farrooq, was the leader of the Nation of Domination perfect for the black guy right? The Godfather’s character was recently discontinued. He was a black wrestler, but why did he have to play a pimp, escorted to the ring each night by his entourage of ‘ho’s? And before that, his character was a man named Papa Shango, who practiced extensive voodoo in order to win matches. The list goes on and on.
Let’s not mention that all of the women have to be as close to naked as possible when fully outfitted, including Lita, whose uniform includes a neon thong always showing inches above her low-cut jeans. And now, when women compete on pay-per-view events, the norm is for them to compete in a “bra and panties” match. In this, a champion is declared when the opponent has been stripped down to nothing more than her bra and panties.
I would hesitate to say that anyone has sold out to participate in professional wrestling because for most of these people, it is said to be the fulfillment of a lifetime dream. And I believe them when they say it. The question will obviously be posed: How far should an individual allow himself to be swayed for a little bit of fame and an extremely large paycheck? But maybe a better question should be: How low?
The sad thing is that, although everyone in our society loudly exclaims what he or she would not do, or allow to be done to himself or herself, this is still a capitalist society. When the money is put before you in stacks as large as the ones they receive, not many of us would turn them down. We will do what we are told for the right price. In our society, morals became a commodity a long time ago. Some of us hold out for more than others, but most of us sell. Most of us, although certainly not all, do eventually decide that — for the right amount of money — anything is negotiable.
Perhaps it’s our personal integrity that isn’t tough enough.
Edited by Pam Gare