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This commentary appeared in the Letters section of the USA Today on Monday 1999-01-04. Various trademarks are mentioned and are the property of their respective owners.
Professional wrestling, as promoted by Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (WCW) on TNT and TBS cable channels and by Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on USA Network, has an enormous fan base and following for its entertainment value.
Children of all ages are influenced by the barrage of television programming, action-figure toys and video games that depict these performers. As a boy growing up in Indiana, I was enamored of such wrestling "heroes" as Dick the Bruiser. It was always good vs. evil, and that has prevailed to the present.
I still enjoy watching wrestling as entertainment on television, and my 11-year-old son also is caught up in the wrestling rage that exists today.
Recently, however, there has been a disconcerting turn of events brought out by McMahon, owner of the WWF. After viewing a recent Monday night RAW IS WAR and WAR ZONE, I think any parent would be appalled by the despicable promotion of wrestling. McMahon seems to think sex, exploitation of women, sadomasochism and domination belong in family viewing. I do not.
The one example that can be mentioned portrayed a pimp--The Godfather--who wanted to enlist another woman into his "whore train." When she refused, he shouted to the crowd, "Pimpin' ain't easy." I understand from a recent (PBS) documentary that McMahon thinks he has to resort to such filth to attract a fan base.
To Turner's credit, his WCW promotions do not employ these lurid displays of sex and filth. The Nitro Girls' dance at the beginning of the show is tastefully done, and the overall theme is still the good guy vs. the bad guy.
Professional wrestling is a good theatrical sporting event that has endured both good times and bad. Its resurgence in recent years, however, needs to be monitored by TV executives to ensure it retains its entertainment value for children and does not erode into displays of sexual exploitation, exhibitionism and moral degradation. And parents need to be aware there are promoters like McMahon who don't care what is presented, as long as it helps his ratings.
Paul Fuller Satellite Beach, Fla.
Mr. McMahon Responds:
January 4, 1999 Mr. Paul Fuller Satellite Beach, Florida
Dear Mr. Fuller:
It's obvious that you just don't Get It! Much like Hollywood Studios, the World Wrestling Federation produces programming for different age groups. At 10 AM Eastern on Saturday and Sunday mornings on USA Network, the World Wrestling Federation produces programs that are PG rated. Sunday at 7 PM Eastern, Sunday Night Heat, the rating is PG LV. Next Monday night prime time, 9 PM to 11 PM, the rating is TV 14. Let that be your guide as to what is appropriate for your 11 year old son.
However, as far as your opinion as to what you think professional wrestling should be, good vs. evil, good guy vs bad guy, your taste seems to be stuck in a time warp, the same time when you were "enamored of such wrestling heroes as Dick the Bruiser".
If you want this type of simplistic intelligence insulting programming, we suggest that you watch Ted Turner's WCW. However, if you're looking for contemporary sports entertainment which treats "professional wrestling" as an action/adventure soap opera, then the World Wrestling Federation is your ticket. With the sexuality of 90210, the subject matter of NYPD Blue, the athleticism of the Olympics combined with reality based storylines, the World Wrestling Federation presents a hybrid of almost all forms of entertainment and sports combined in one show.
I regret that your misquotes and one sided commentary is so biased as to not see the World Wrestling Federation for what it truly is. Obviously, you just don't Get It!
Vince McMahon Chairman
P.S. In an effort to reach you via phone, directory assistance claims that there is no Paul Fuller listed or unlisted in Satellite Beach, Florida.
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