Looks like the disdain a lot of people are showing towards Vince McMahon over the Crown Jewel show that to date is still on schedule won’t be dying down. Some media outlets have latched onto it, and the mere mention of it at Smackdown got boos from the crowd. And now in social media land there’s some rumblings about not choosing profit over what’s right (as if that’s a thing in corporate America before it’s forced). Some people I’ve seen are seriously going to cancel their subscriptions and move on from WWE altogether if they go through with it. To which I say…..really? I mean, Disney made a big thing out of screening their movies there now….you cancelling Disney? You gonna stop supporting the movie business now? Is this thing really the test of one’s moral fiber that you’re making it out to be? It sure isn’t for me, I’ll tell you that. And it’s not because I find Vince McMahon to be some paragon of virtue worthy of my defending; he isn’t. I just don’t think that cancelling them because of this show is anything to commend yourself for.
Why did he sign a contract with Saudi Arabia to do the show? Real simple. They offered him a lot of money for it. And he figured that there wouldn’t be much backlash, that ultimately we would not care enough to hurt him. And you know what? It wasn’t a bad call at the time because when exactly have we shown that we do? When you consider the things we let every other major corporation get away with every day here, the heinous acts we ignore that our fellow citizens commit against one another, and the various evil things that our own government does and allows while we look away why would he need to think that he’d get in trouble for running a damn wrestling show in Saudi Arabia? We support the movie business, an industry that allowed the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski to go unchecked for decades. We watch TV, where Les Moonves and Bill Cosby got to run free for so long. We looked away for decades while Larry Nasser and Jerry Sandusky victimized children, and in the aftermath we still figure a way to keep watching. So please, spare me already.
You’re probably reading this on a smartphone that was built in a factory with some of the worst working conditions on earth. How bad? Some of them have suicide nets outside. If you don’t know what a suicide net is, it’s a net outside the factory to catch workers that are so distraught over their work environment that they opt to jump out the window to their death rather than keep at the job. And yet lots of people like you and I camp out overnight to get the latest iPhone release, even after plenty of stories have been written about the conditions of those factories. You can start here, but feel free to go through the entire google search result here. Over 800,000 results so it’s not some state secret. Do we hold Vince McMahon to a higher standard than the people who run Apple? You think the people in those factories would gladly take the WWE road schedule and paycheck over their current gig? When we going to the next protest against Apple (or Samsung or any other company that makes electronics overseas)?
But if economics aren’t your bag, how about politics? After all, the other gripe I’ve seen is that it’s no much that he took the deal, it’s that they made a propaganda statement in favor of the Saudi Royal Family at the last show. And yeah that was disturbing as hell, but shall we talk about some of the things we sit back and watch our government do and allow to happen right here? Like poisoning an entire city’s water supply the way the governor of Michigan did? Like trying to suppress video evidence of police misconduct the way the mayor of Chicago did? Or running a secret prison like Chicago PD was found to have done? As evil an act as the rendition and killing of Jamal Khashoggi is, are we gonna pretend like Gitmo and Abu Gharib were not things done by our government with our tacit approval? Are we going to act like our current administration isn’t literally taking children away from their parents at the border and putting them in cages? Is it propaganda when the WWE and other companies go all ‘America! F@# Yeah!’ on July 4th or Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day?
Vince McMahon is 100 percent naked capitalism, and what’s most disturbing about that to some of you is that he doesn’t hide it under a respectable veneer like owners and executives or other companies or our elected officials. No, Vince got on TV in front of 15,000 people in the middle of all this controversy and did a seven second dance break like he doesn’t give a damn. And you can’t shake that the way you can all the other stuff I talked about here. He doesn’t hide behind a flunky like NFL commissioner Roger Goddell the way NFL owners do when they get busted lying about concussion research or fumbling domestic violence issues that are uncovered about their players. He’s out in front, an easy target, the head of what’s still considered in a lot of circles to be a carny business that only weirdos enjoy. Hell, you still get queasy sometimes before you tell people you like wrestling I bet. Even John Oliver couldn’t help but take shots at pro wrestling as a thing when he was coming down hard specifically on Vince and WWE. So when Vince is out there like that, you feel like you’re being exposed, too. And if you’re already mad at him for not booking the show the way you want then it’s real easy to get on your high horse.
The truth of the matter is that by doing this show he’s holding up a mirror to all of us, to see just what it is that we really care about. And the reality is that it’s easier to get mad about a wrestling show and think about dropping it because it’s still not a ‘normal’ thing to enjoy amongst your peers to begin with. You’ll never have to defend dropping the WWE the way you’d have to defend getting rid of your smartphone and not buying a new one. And you’ll never have to explain that decision to a coworker the way you might have to if you end up on the TV news at a protest against the policies of an elected official who your peers don’t have a problem with. This is easy morality, keyboard activism at it’s best. It’s fine to not agree with, or like the decision Vince made to take this deal. But please, don’t act like you’re making some grand moral stand and don’t act like the guy who runs a wrestling show should be held to a moral standard than any other businessman in this country, or our elected officials. Don’t go crazy patting yourself on the back and then turn around and vote for people that are going to continue the worst policies imaginable, or start up some new ones.
You want to drop them over this, do your thing. I’m not going to say you shouldn’t if you feel led to do so. But I won’t be. Is it that I don’t care? Well, I’d like to say that I do and I’d like to think that I do. But my actions have said otherwise over the years so there’s no point in lying to you or myself. Like I said in my previous piece most of us care about this stuff at the ‘oh that’s a shame’ level until we’re personally affected. Every day we pick and choose what to get mad about and who to get mad at, and there’s usually some previously held beef or conclusion behind it. To be honest most of the people I see that are serious about dropping WWE were already mad about how Vince runs the show, so what are we really doing here? Vince McMahon is an easy man to point your righteous anger towards……Tim Cook or the late Steve Jobs? Not so much. Politicians are easy to hate but hard to punish without your fellow voters coming along with you. So yeah it probably feels like you’re taking some big stand here. News flash: you aren’t.
Or is it that you feel somehow betrayed by Vince? That he’s not the wacky old guy who runs the wrasslin show but a solemn unapologetic businessman? Man, I guess…… He’s not polluting the water, he’s not using child labor, he’s not farming out military contractors to work in foreign countries because they aren’t bound by the military code of justice. He’s a guy who puts on a show and he got an offer to put one on in a country we’re not supposed to like, even though our government clearly hasn’t felt that way in some time. And if he’d done it quietly and just made it a date on the tour schedule like the UK tour they do every year as opposed to a big production it probably wouldn’t be a big deal to you. No it’s not a cause to celebrate and yes the idea that they are affecting change by going there is pure and utter BS. But is that any different from the idea that Google and iPhones were going to do the same kind of thing? Or blue jeans, or Air Jordans, or anything else? They all throw that line out there to justify doing business wherever they want to do business. WWE is a company, period. It’s not a civic association or a fraternity. That’s the reality, and reality sucks sometimes.
Ultimately it is your choice. But the WWE and Vince McMahon don’t have any higher set of moral standards than any other company who’s product you buy and doing that show in Saudi Arabia, as cold and callous a call as it may be, is way far down on my list of egregious stuff that’s been done in the name of turning a profit.