As a high school teacher, I see my fair share of bullying. I want to provide a learning environment where all my students can come and learn in complete safety. You don’t want students to be scared to come to school. Sadly this isn’t always the case.
Students intimidate and bully each other over everything: clothes, grade level, what sport they are in or who they are dating. They bully each other physically, verbally and online. Heck, I even had students create a fake Facebook page insulting me, their teacher. The bully is sadly an everyday part of a teenager’s life. How do you we combat this terrible problem? The WWE gives us two different views: its corporate view and its storyline view. Both have their stories to tell in how to deal with the important issue of bullying. Let’s examine both carefully:
The Corporate View: Darren Young
I know Lonestar and Adam J have covered this topic with their excellent work, so I wouldn’t repeat their sentiments here. But I look at this not simply as a monumental moment in sports history but important for my students as well. A lot of people are asking why this is a big deal in the year 2013. The answer is simple. Darren Young’s announcement and the corporate response can save lives. It might be the most important thing they have done as a business to date.
I remember when I attended high school in the late 1990’s. We were watching “And the Band Played On”, a movie about the original spread of AIDS. Since the movie discussed how AIDS was started predominately in the gay community, it led to a heated class discussion. One of my fellow classmates suggested the solution to AIDS was to, “Round all the gays and lesbians into concentration camps”. I was so shocked by his comments and a few classmates supporting his view, I couldn’t speak. I was shocked and angered by their bigoted words. I regret not speaking up until this day.
But the worst part was my teacher. She said nothing. How were any gay and lesbian students suppose to interpret my teacher’s silence? It turns out not well. As noted in the following article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/gay-iowa-teen-suicide_n_3672008.html the bullying of gay teenagers has serious consequences even today. The Suicide Prevention Society estimates 30 to 40 percent of LGBT youths have attempted suicide. They have constant messages by their political leaders and peers that they are not normal or are not entitled to the same rights simply because of their sexual orientation.
That is why Darren Young is a hero. He is a part of professional wrestling, the height of hyper-masculinity, and is showing gay and lesbian youth that you too can succeed in this masculine sports world. Old stereotypes are not going to be accepted in the modern WWE. He simply needs to be himself and a true professional to inspire LGBT youth and wrestling fans.
Just as amazing as Darren was for taking this courageous step was the corporate response. We had eloquent and supportive words by John Cena. We had very supportive tweets from the WWE’s leaders: Stephanie, Vince and Triple H. Adding sexual orientation to a part of the Be A Star campaign during Summerslam weekend is another wonderful step.
“It Gets Better Project” was founded in 2010 by Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller. They have over 50,000 videos from people from all walks of life supporting youth with messages of hope to prevent suicides among gay teens or even students suspected of being gay. I wish I could support the message that your sexual orientation truly doesn't matter to what you are like as a person but I have seen too much bullying based on sexual orientation. I need help to prevent this bullying. We need our popular culture and sports to lead the way like they have done historically on important civil rights issues. Darren Young and the WWE’s support of him could literally save lives. Thank you WWE.
Storyline View: Bullying is Needed for Successful Storytelling
Ironically as we received this groundbreaking news, we had a night of bully success at Summerslam 2013. The underdog and the weaker wrestlers lost to the bully in the high profile matches. The bullies mocked the underdog’s size, heart and desire. It seems an interesting juxtaposition but it is a simple formula to follow. Let us look at our victorious bullies:
Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio is a perfect bully. He brags about how much better his life is then yours. He shows off his wealth. He talks about how much better Mexico is every time he is performing in the United States.
He literally bullies people too. He brutally assaulted his long time friend, Ricardo, knocking him out of action. His style is quite the same. He picks on people’s weak points. He attacked Dolph Ziggler's head after Ziggler’s concussions at Payback. At Summerslam 2013, he spent a lot of the match going after Christian’s injured shoulder. Del Rio seems to relish in bullying his opponents and their weaknesses.
Lesnar is a bully pure and simple. I am pretty sure we had many people like Lesnar bully us in high school. Well may not quite like Lesnar but certainly his archetype.
His fighting style in his matches reflects this. In last night brilliant match, the bully was in full display. He tossed CM Punk around like a rag doll. He called him a “girl”. He mocked him repeatedly for his size disadvantage. It almost cost the bully his match. Almost. The bully won and like a lot of bullies he won’t have to deal with the consequences for a long time. That is why he is the perfect bully. He shows up, makes fun of you, beats you up and leaves. In the world of the WWE, we will pay to see the bully taken down. See you at WrestleMania XXX Brock!
Triple H & Randy Orton
Triple H, the man, may have taken the wonderful step of supporting Darren Young. Triple H, the wrestler, has and will always be a jerk. He will mock your size or your credibility as a champion. He will insult your looks or call you simply an entertainer. He is better then you and he knows it.
So it was little surprise that he turned on Daniel Bryan and supported his long time friend Randy Orton. Bryan was the sort of wrestler Triple H always mocked in his active wrestling days. Bryan doesn’t have the right look and is too small to lead the WWE. We can almost hear Triple’s bullying promos now.
The thing about storyline bullying is it is a necessary for building a good story. We desire for the underdog to succeed. But it can’t be too easy. Otherwise why would we watch? We need those bullies to be there for our heroes to overcome them. That makes the victory all the sweeter when they get knocked down a peg. So I wait for the inevitable collapse of Alberto, Randy, Brock and Triple H. That is what should happen to bullies right?
So there you have it, the week in WWE bullying. The corporate business made a decision that could help a lot of young people in the world. The televised world made a decision, if handled right, that could make the company a lot of money. As long as bullying and hate loses out in the end, the world is a better place. Trust me I know, I sadly see it everyday.
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