Friday, May 3, 2013

What, are you gay? [Guest Blogger: Alex]

Alex is back to take the reins here at neverland today, and I want to thank him again for pitching in.  His insights are spot on; his eye is incredibly astute; and his writing is inspiring.  His topic today is one echoed in other posts on this blog and similar ones with increasing frequency.  It isn't one we all agree about, by any means, but it's an important topic in the "evolution" of us all about the place of gay men in society.  And for the record, I agree with Alex 110% here...

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What, are you gay?

Be warned, I'm getting on my soapbox.

Words matter. Even in the intensely physical world of wrestling, words make a difference. They can amplify a moment or kill the mood. I've just experienced the latter.

Vinny is the man who brought me back to Thunder's Arena. I hadn't even gone to the website since Halloween. However, one pic posted on Joe's Ringside blog drew me back in. I've since bought all four of Vinny's matches.


Now, I'm not happy again. During his fight with Dakota, Vinny insults his opponent by asking him, "What are you, gay?"

Ugh. Why couldn't he keep his trap shut?



Maybe it's in character that Vinny, whose Thunder's persona is an amoral meathead, uses "gay" as a pejorative. So far, he's already been accused of stealing a laptop and protein powder, stiffing his housemate on the rent and hitting a car then leaving the scene of the accident. Not like he's depicted as a hero. Vinny is 100% heel.

And wrestling is often politically incorrect with heels – full of every kind of stereotype.



But for me, it was an immediate turn off. As in turn off my iPad and be done with the match. It seems weird to me that a company targeting a gay audience lets that slide. There are plenty of other ways to insult someone. Doesn't it seem immediately wrong? Admittedly, I boycott companies at the drop of a hat. Maybe most gay wrestling fans won't care, but I really think they should.

And yes, I am aware I'm probably selling videos with the pics.



Am I too PC? Does the fact that it's a character like Vinny make a difference? Do those Hillary Duff public service announcements mean nothing? What say you?    -Alex

16 comments:

  1. I write a blog called Wrestling and the Gay Man. In it, I have been running an on-going story about erotic wrestling. Several times, during writing, I have pondered whether to have a character call another character a "faggot." After a split second, I deleted it and used another word. I don't like it. I think it's insulting, and I'm tired of 'gay' being code for weak and sissy. Anyone who thinks that is true needs to meet some of the guys I've wrestled the last few years. They are masculine, tough studs who could kick many a straight guy's ass. So, I'm with you. It's wrong.

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    1. Thanks for the comment.

      I really like the Middleboro story, by the way. It's a really compelling and unique wrestling story. Jack's awesome.

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  2. Your reaction is spot on. I was similarly bothered when Eli Black used it in a UCW promo and yet on BG East videos he gets a huge boner wrestling other guys.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I didn't know that ... I think one of the things that surprised me is that I never hear it used in BGE or RHW, which are my main sources.

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    2. You may be right on the context, although it's said rather casually and not challenged. I think it bugged me from the source, too. Sexuality is downplayed by TA, which is fine. But if you want it that way then really stay away from it. Don't make the one character who shows an interest in men a sexual predator and have another use the term negatively.

      On the evil foreigner thing, I agree depending on the use. For me, race and ethnicity are different than nationality. Maybe I'm a hypocrite, as I liked the heel Canadian angle in TNA many years ago, but being Canadian isn't historically treated as a point of discrimination.

      I actually have the "evil Arab" stereotype being an integral plot point in an upcoming story at Bard's story site. The author-insert character has a POV, which starts some drama. I'll be interested to hear your reaction to the story when it's posted.

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  3. Personally I feel like with Vinny, I'd let it slide because I mean, look at his chest. Nah, seriously, for ME, in THIS context, it sounded more like being a heel--and especially with the gay target audience, it would be easy heel heat. (I really, really want to believe this.) But it annoys me that they DO take it there. But I'm also annoyed by "evil Arab" stereotypes, "evil French," okay, "evil foreigners" I guess.

    But personal filters make a difference. Once you get to "fag" and "faggot," for me that's too much. And whenever a wrestler has a redneck gimmick (Steve Austin, the Brisco Brothers), I don't like to watch them just because it feels like they're GOING to say "feygit." Harsh judgment on my part, and close-minded, I'll admit, but personal experiences can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

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    1. Whoops ... my reply to your post is above. D'oh!

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  4. I agree about with the sensitivities about the use of that term; however, I'm inclined to cut Vinnie a whole lot of slack here. I know that he is very gay-friendly on a professional level. Plus, I think there is a very strong angle in homoerotic wrestling where desire for an opponent is a weakness to be exploited. Vinnie knows that he can use this to his advantage. Who wouldn't want to be dominated by that meathead?!

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    1. Thanks for the perspective and I'm glad to hear he's not his character (not that I thought he was). I find him very charming for a meathead-type character.

      Is meathead an-PC term? I've been watching reruns of All in the Family, so it's stuck in my head.

      Maybe it would've helped me if the comment was challenged or resulted in Vinny losing. Marvel Comics currently has a couple of characters who're both extremely offensive to their big minority, mutants. Both are mutants, ironically enough, but one got punched after the last thing she said. The other was celebrated. I didn't mind the offensive comment followed by a punch nearly as much as the one that went unchallenged.

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  5. I agree with you entirely Alex. I wouldn't expect anyone to use the term 'nigger' when wrestling an African American opponent and I object strongly to gay being used in this way. Thunders Arena should know better. Still I can't boycott them as I don't like their style of wrestling!

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    1. Thanks. I want to be fair and clear ... I would not go that far in comparing it. For me, the situation you describe with an African American is more overt than what happened here. Like if he used faggot. I feel like that would've been immediately handled. In this case, it was an unnecessary comment that should've been edited out or never said, but it wasn't obviously hateful, the way the n-word of f-word are. It's more subtle, but still wrong.

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  6. These are at least 3 (maybe more) closet-case wrestling production companies whose customer base is almost exclusively gay men where many of those principally involved, from owners, to "directors" to wrestlers pretend to be straight or "bi". How can you not expect subtextual or even overt homophobia when it's endemic to those in charge? My favorite, and by favorite I mean most disgusting example is the the instance where a certain company's owner admonished his gay "trainers" not to fraternize with his presumably straight wrestlers.

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  7. The thing is the match I bought of Vinny's where he faces Mowgly is an extremely homoerotic match with Vinny seeming to really get off on dominating little Mowgly. There's several points in the match where Vinny literally can't resist grinding his very scantily clad crotch into Mowgly's face, at one point Vinny goes so far as to imply oral sex as he forces Mowgly's head towards his thrusting dick. He also rubs his biceps on Mowgly's face and at one point even tells Mowgly to come lick his muscles "like a bitch."

    So my point is I definitely don't think Vinny is homophobic in real life if he was comfortable and even enjoying getting THAT homoerotic in a match. This definitely just seems like a case of Vinny acting like the meathead heel who's there to name call and trash talk. And I'll also add if we're not OK with him calling a guy gay derogatorily then why is it OK that he calls guys "bitches"? It's the same type of thing. I think either you accept that it's all part of the heel character or don't tolerate any of it, not just the stuff directed at gay guys. I for one enjoyed the hell out of Vinny in his match against Mowgly and took all the homo-eroticism of it as a big step forward for Thunders Arena getting in touch with its target audience. I definitely plan to purchase more Vinny matches in the future.

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  8. I think there's a lot of naivete being expressed by those suggesting we cut this guy some 'slack'. He may very well be a nice guy and possibly not at all homophobic but I think you all are missing the bigger picture. A guy who has wrestled for Thunder's and for BG East and other producers said that the Thunder's crew routinely ridicules BG East for being so "gay" and then admonishes their reputedly straight wrestlers to hump one another. How long will the gay community pay money to those who have revel in homophobia?

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  9. Ring of Honor champion Jay Briscoe's recent comment (". . . try and tell my kids that there's nothing wrong with that [Delaware allowing gay marriage] and I'll fucking shoot you") really puts Vinny in perspective for me. Forgive me for being "naive," but being reminded what real hatred looks like takes away the sting of a comment delivered by an obvious heel who engages in specifically homoerotic wrestling.

    In professional wrestling, a heel will often stand in the middle of the ring and insult the audience in attendance (and sometimes the viewers at home) by calling them fat, lazy, ugly, underachievers, etc. I really feel like this is all Vinny was trying to do.

    I'm not saying that something bad happening is acceptable because something worse happens somewhere else. I'm just saying, I don't believe there was anything more to it than Vinny playing a jerk in a story. I don't believe there was malicious intent. I don't think he's off somewhere, cashing his check and steepling his fingers and chuckling, "Heh heh heh, take THAT, gays!"

    And when I have some money, I am TOTALLY buying this DVD.

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