Thanks to the rise of hot take artists and an administration that has gone all in on normalizing hate and ridiculousness, it’s almost impossible to decipher what’s an Onion headline and real life anymore. 2017 has been so absurd, that if you condensed the year into a movie script and tried to sell it to a studio, you’d be laughed out of Hollywood faster than that creep Harvey Weinstein could unzip his fly.
From ever-increasing and shocking falls from grace, to hate-mongering being the new normal in all forms of media, life is out pro wrestling actual pro wrestling now days.
You remember that time the vitamin-eating, prayer-saying Hulk Hogan turned heel and formed the nWo? Every kid in America either balled their eyes out or threw their Wrestling Buddies at the TV in anger as their beloved idol spat in the face of decency. It was such a revelation that it shook the wrestling industry to its core.
Now fast forward to the present day, and the unintentional heel turns we’ve witnessed of late make Hogan’s booked fall from grace look tame in comparison. Like REALLY tame.
From freakin’ Mario Batali to Russell Simmons, to Jeremy Piven and Kevin Spacey, once-beloved and idolized individuals are falling by the wayside as they’ve been exposed as sexual predators. How’s that line in the Dark Knight go?
“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself busted for sexual misconduct.” Something like that, right?
The lesson here is that your heroes are going to turn heel eventually, just like in pro wrestling. Unless they happen to be Ricky Steamboat*, of course.
*You’re a jabroni if you count his ROH run.
Cheap Heat Trumps No Heat
Per Wikipedia, to garner “cheap heat” is to incite “a negative crowd reaction by insulting the crowd en masse, typically by bringing up something unrelated to the wrestling business, usually used in a negative light.”
That basically explains journalism and entertainment industries today, doesn’t it? Every reaction is a good reaction as long as you’re staying relevant.
This year we’ve witnessed the “Embrace Debate” movement reach its apex and the rise of non-experts becoming thought leaders. As long as you can evoke emotions, you’re going to be a star. Or whatever Brit McHenry is now days.
Remember how I said every reaction is a good reaction? Well, there’s one exception to this rule: when you’re annoying as f*ck. In wrestling, it’s called “X-Pac” or “go away” heat. In real life, it’s called “Ajit Pai” heat. I just made that up, but watch this video and tell me you don’t get what I’m saying.
We, the People?
Speaking of Ajit Pai, anybody else find it odd that three people can ignore the will of the populace to do whatever they want?
I was actually talking about the FCC repealing Net Neutrality, but yeah, we can talk about Vince, Steph and Triple H here too. It still works.
I get the logic behind why the WWE chose to back those three as hard as they did, I really do. But telling your audience what they’re supposed to enjoy is never a good idea. For starters, it’s insulting to the audience’s intelligence. You also guarantee you’re going to garner the opposite reaction you intended with your over the top promotion.
Just look at what happened with Lonzo Ball this year. The Ball fam would not have generated as much heat as they did if it wasn’t for ESPN doing all they could to sing their praises and feature them on any segment they could.
I never thought I’d say this, but we all could learn a little from the theatrics of pro wrestling. For all the wackiness the industry lends itself to, the storylines usually have goal in mind: to give the people what they want by having the good guys win.
It doesn’t so look so promising to most of us now, but let’s hope 2018 throws us a swerve that works in our favor.