In the wild a wacky world of pro wrestling, there's a term often used called "Hulking Up". It references the ritualistic late match comeback that Hulk Hogan would go through in his matches.
The heel (wrestling lingo for bad guy) would beat up on Hulk for most of the match and just when the nefarious baddie would hit his biggest move, Hogan would jolt up off the mat to his knees. He would puff out his cheeks, shake his head back and forth and then would stalk around the ring, pumping his fists, shaking his head and utterly impervious to any offense his opponent could provide. He would hit his trademark big boot followed by a leg drop, pin his opponent and the crowd would come unglued.
Pro wrestling has fascinated me ever since I was a kid. There's a tendency to look down on it due to it's carny roots and use of aggressively broad stereotypes (more on that later) so it's not something I talk about often. But even as a semi grown man, I believe that when it's done well it can be one of the most captivating forms of entertainment on the planet. It's one part athletics (regardless of the predetermined nature of the outcomes, the risks and danger to the wrestlers bodies is very real), one part soap opera (storylines and a continuous narrative that continues on with characters constantly rotating in and out, without any set beginning or end), and part live action comic book (larger than life heroes and villains, colorful gimmicks, costumes and big dramatic battles). As a form of performance art it is unique because in no other medium does the line between performer and character blur quite so much. (It's often said that the best wrestling characters occur when the performers take pieces of themselves and simply turn up the intensity.)
This is the unique environment, which has led to the heartbreak of fans everywhere upon learning that a tape of wrestling (an indeed, cultural) icon Hulk Hogan going on a racial tirade has surfaced during the discovery phase of his lawsuit against online tabloid Gawker for leaking a tape of him bumping uglies with his former best friend's wife. (My inner child is currently self immolating with his woodburning kit having to read that last sentence.) It's a tough thing to deal with when your heroes let you down (although, full disclosure, I was always more of a "Macho Man" Randy Savage fan, but he had his own set of problems).
For wrestling fans, Hulk Hogan has always been one of the more complex and flawed characters in a business that has seen it's share of complex and flawed characters (it seems to come with the territory, kind of like comedy, Hollywood or...*ahem* broadcasting). After all, you don't get into a business where getting whacked with folding chairs is listed in the job description without a need to fulfill some kind of need for attention or validation. In that business, Hulk Hogan breathes rarified air. Aside from Stone Cold Steve Austin (who also has a truckload of character flaws himself) and Dwayne "The Rock...and the best part of any movie you've seen recently" Johnson (who seems like a legit great guy minus "The Tooth Fairy") the Hulkster is the most recognizable icon of his industry and in the late 80's/early 90's few were as big in popular culture.
So with all that going for him, from an outsiders perspective, it will likely come as a surprise to hear that Hulk Hogan is also known as an insecure politicking schemer who exaggerates and flat out lies as freely as he...apparently drops the "N-Bomb". This is a man who tells the story of his epic moment at Wrestlemania III defeating Andre the Giant with Andre being heavier, the crowd being bigger and Andre dying sooner after the match (match was in 1987 Andre died in '93, long after we can rule out "death by bodyslam"). This is the man who inserted himself into the real life drama of The Montreal Screwjob (he was nowhere near it) like some kind of life photoshopper. This is a man who claimed he would have had the million dollar grill and not George Foreman if he had been home when the inventors called ("If only I had an answering machine brother...but I don't like being recorded") Seriously, throw "Hulk Hogan lies" into a google search . I'm just scratching the surface here.
What I'm getting at is that it's kind of impossible to pin down how Hulk Hogan actually views the world because he's been living in "Hulk Land" for so long that you can never be sure of exactly what his grasp on reality is. Trying to sift the real Terry Bollea out of all the Hulk Hogan bullshit is like trying to separate an egg after the yolk is broken.
This is a long way to go to say, I don't really care if Hulk is a racist, because I didn't have much respect for him to lose to begin with so this is really just gilding the lily. I could spend all day trying to figure out if in his own warped perspective he actually knew that what he was saying was wrong and still get nowhere because it's impossible to put yourself in his shoes unless you've spent several decades being told how great and important you are and built your own mythology to support that. I feel there's a much more interesting area to explore regarding the reaction to his rant.
WARNING! DIGRESSION TIME!!! To explain what I mean about "Hulk Land", Kevin Smith once told a story about pop music icon Prince and how difficult the reclusive singer was to work with on a documentary project (that never saw the light of day). The whole story is great but the section that is relevant here was Prince's assistant telling Kevin when he got frustrated and wanted to leave: "Kevin let me explain something to you about Prince. I've been working with Prince for many years now. I can't go in there and tell him that you don't want to shoot this documentary...Prince doesn't comprehend things the way you and I do...Prince has been living in Prince World for quite some time now. Prince will come to us periodically and say things like "It's 3 in the morning in Minnesota, I really need a camel. Go get it." And then we finally explain it to him like "Prince, it's 3 o clock in the morning in Minnesota, and it's January and you want a camel. That is not physically or psychologically possible." ...he's not being malicious when he does it. He just doesn't understand why he can't get exactly what he wants. He doesn't understand why someone can't process a simple request like a camel at 3 in the morning in Minnesota."
I guess the moral here is the more you know about your heroes, the less you want to know about them.
The more interesting subject to me is the reaction of the WWE upon learning of the news. This is where this particular case becomes a microcosm for the rest of society. Hogan's name was wiped from their website, he's been removed from the upcoming WWE 2K16 videogame, his name has been removed from Hall of Fame listings (although it's likely his induction will not be revoked) and he's been released from his Legends contract. To put it in perspective, the last time the company reacted this way involved a murder-suicide (which is part of the reason I think this is just a teaser for more to come out later). The scorched Earth approach they have taken has drawn the ire of many fans who feel it is an overreaction in an attempt to keep the heat off of themselves for their own past issues racism, homophobia, sexism and xenophobia.
After all, the company still works with Michael P.S. Hayes (who was briefly suspended after a history of making racial remarks), Steve Austin (who has past issues with domestic violence and racial remarks), Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka (who is currently under grand jury investigation for the mysterious death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino in 1983), John "Bradshaw" Layfield who has a history of bullying and abuse, not to mention a little over a year ago the Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the Hall of Fame after having said some truly despicable things that make Hulk's rant look tame in comparison (WWE later created an award named in his honour following his sudden death shortly after Wrestlemania 30).
That's just the personal stuff. It doesn't even include the bevy of broad stereotypes the company has relied on in the past which could keep me going all day here.
The point I want to get at is that even if the company's reaction to Hogan's use of racial slurs was motivated out of cynical self preservation, it's still a positive sign of progress. It means they recognize the damage that associating with a racist can do to their brand, which sends a big message regardless of the motivation behind it. In their modern attempts to transform from carny trash sideshow to global entertainment industry, they have legitimately been making the effort to clean up their product and this was the worst time for something like this to come out.
On an episode of the Cracked Podcast discussing racial privilege, an interesting point was made regarding signs of progress. Cracker writer and author David Wong brought up how it's a good thing that we can look back at old Warner Brothers cartoons and recognize how racist they were. By extension, it's a good thing that we can look at the fact that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon once dropped the N-word in a backstage skit ten years ago (although fans thought it was stupid then too) to recognize that it is something that would not fly today. The company taking swift action indicates that even if the individual views of the Hulk Hogans out there haven't progressed, the rest of society has. And that's an effect that bleeds over because eventually a new generation takes over and the process repeats. One generation's progressive will be the next generation's bigoted dinosaur because the truth is, we can always do better.
You need points of reference to see when progress is being made. Any time you see someone complaining about political correctness ruining things, keep in mind that it's simply the function of progress being made within our lifetimes. When you can't say the same things today that could get away with even a few years ago, it means times are changing and we, as a society are being more conscious of the language we use and the prejudices behind that language.
When I was a kid, Eddie Murphy was at his height as a comedian. He was also unabashedly homophobic, saying some absolutely hateful things. Murphy would later publicly acknowledge this and apologize indicating that he had grown as a person. Once again, you can read into it as either genuine or cynical, but the issue remains that his past views were no longer acceptable to the general public. That's progress, that I can chart in my lifetime.
For an example from the other direction. Jurassic World left a very sour impression with me because it has a lot of outdated, sexist ideas that stuck out for a movie from 2015 and frankly, only served to highlight how progressive the original JP was in that regard. Again, progress that I can track in my lifetime because I have a signpost to compare it to. (I have a lot more to say about Jurassic World, but that's an article for another time.)
Beyond popular culture, think back, dear reader to conversations you've had in the past that would make you cringe if you heard someone say those things today. We've all got things that were said during less enlightened times or in times of darkness or stress, but most of us have the benefit of not having them captured on tape. (There's another article to be written regarding "call out culture" and crowd shaming.)
Part of the reason I was hesitant to outright call Hulk Hogan a racist (beyond some twitter jokes about his frequent use of the word "brother") is this same principal of personal growth. Is he not allowed to grow as a person, or is he forever tied to the ugly things he said in the past? By that same token, we cannot just brush off the things he said, because as we saw in Charleston SC, there are real world consequences to those racial attitudes and they do need to be a part of a larger conversation.
As for Hulk Hogan. I guess time will tell if he'll "Hulk Up" out of this one or not...
Author's Note: I promise, one of these days I will set out to write something short and to the point and actually do that. Hopefully you were able to get something of value out if this.
Another Author's Note: I hope you all appreciate how hard it was not avoid mentioning Hulk Hogan's hairline.
Another Another Author's Note: I don't want anyone to think I've forgotten about Gawker and how terrible they are. That'll be a topic for another day. When Gawker vs Hulk takes place in court, it'll be a heel vs heel match.
Kevin Smith's Prince Story (Language warning...it is Kevin Smith after all)
Cracked Podcast episode: "The Horrible 90's Hit Song Song That Explains The Modern World" (Language warning: They use hip hop music as bookends and ad breaks, which use some of the language we're talking about today)
You wanna know something funny I found out over my hiatus? I often tag my posts with "Spongebob Erotica" as a running joke (to date I have not penned any sponge smut...yet) and in checking my site stats, I found out that somebody found my site by specifically searching for those two words.
The first thought that hit me was the sad realization that that was the only search term that brought people here. The second thought was how disappointed they must have been when they got here. I know that Rule 34 of the internet (if it exists, there is porn of it) says that I couldn't be the only person putting those two concepts together, but it's gotta be a pretty rare itch to scratch. I just imagine the poor guy or girl (who are we kidding...probably guy) getting here and the dejected Charlie Brown walk of shame as he realizes he has been tricked. Well to you, dear pervert, I humbly apologize.
Anyway, I thought I should probably catch all ten of you up on the last four months. Took a new job at work, hurt my back, started exercising too soon after hurting my back, hurt my back again, set up a Facebook page for the site, learned to wash my hands thoroughly after applying Icey Hot gel to sore back, washed my eyes out after mistakenly rubbing eyes after applying Icey Hot gel, and I wrote a thing about the spineless suits at Reddit providing a subsidized platform for hate groups earlier today. I guess that brings us up to speed.
Oh and I saw some movies. I should talk about those.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
I think for better and for worse, Age of Ultron shows the by products of building a connected universe. For the most part, I really liked AOU but it also suffered from serving too many masters, rather than telling a contained story. I'll avoid my whole "Avengers: Infinity War will be the beginning of the end for shared universes" theory for now, since it really deserves it's own post. For now, I'll just stick to this movie. While it was fun, it was ultimately transitional. Part of this is due to the fact that we already know that this movie was just a stop over on the way to a much bigger movie several years from now.
While some were down on the pairing of Black Widow (her characterization left a lot to be desired in general) and Bruce Banner, I felt that Johannson and Ruffalo had enough chemistry to pull it off.
The movie went a long way to setting up Captain America: Civil War (which looks to be shaping up to be another hero packed team up movie) and the two leads of that movie are so dialed into Iron Man and Cap that it'll be fun to see them pitted against each other.
Overall, I really liked AOU. It introduced some new characters to mixed results. Paul Bettany is great in his limited screentime and Elizabeth Olsen is one of my favourite current actresses, despite a spotty accent. Aaron Taylor Johnson doesn't add much but they can't all be home runs.
Mad Max Fury Road
What more can be said about this movie? Hands down the best movie of this summer. It could possibly be my favourite of the year. If you had told me six months ago that my favourite movie of the summer would be a Mad Max movie, I'd have clubbed you over the head with Immortan Joe's big fake muscled chestplate. Then I'd wonder "What the hell is this thing?" because I wouldn't have seen the movie yet.
What's fun about this movie is how sparse it is in terms of exposition. We get dropped right into this world with little set up. Admittedly, for someone like me with minimal knowledge of the Mad Max series, it can be a little jarring. The nice thing is that the movie's simplicity doesn't require much setup. Once the movie puts a foot on the gas pedal it doesn't let up.
A lot has been said about this film's feminist leanings and it's true, the movie focuses most of the attention on Charleze Theron's impossibly cool named Imperator Furiosa. Her story is the one we are ultimately following and Max plays the reluctant hero, who gets drawn into a conflict he has no real interest in. What's interesting is that while this film is considered remarkably progressive, it never comes across as preachy. George Miller just presents it as, this is the way it is.
In that way, while Fury Road deals with some dark subject matter, it is ultimately an optimistic film. Even in the direst circumstances, the movie never gives in to the cynicism, or misery tourism that permeates many post apocalyptic stories. Fury Road is fun. Insane, off the wall, bonkers, bug nuts, wackadoodle, pure brain candy.
This movie features a guy playing a giant flaming double guitar while tethered to the top of a moving "war rig" (which features a series of other War Boys drumming on empty oil drums in the back). That is the essence of my review.
NOTE: For background in this piece, put "Reddit" into a google news search and it'll all make more sense.
We here at Headplaces have been contacted by an anonymous source at the Bureaucracy of Better Businessmaking. They have supplied us a sampling of complaints filed against the Reddit Heights chain of apartment complexes. In order to protect the identities of our sources, we will be redacting all identifying information.
We will also be looking at cat pictures while we type this out.
Hello, my name is [REDACTED]. I would like to file a complaint against Reddit Heights Apartments. I have been living in the building since just after it was built. Lately, something changed, I started noticing more and more hate groups moving in. Any time I would bring it up to the manager [REDACTED], he would brush it off by saying they have a right to free speech and I should just ignore them.
This all came to a head recently, when members of a certain floor, mostly populated by young, angry, white men found out I was employed as a [Job related to tech industry]. They started following me around the halls any time I would step outside of my door yelling nasty names at me. A male friend of mine told some of them to knock it off and they called him a "white knight beta cuck mangina" as though those words mean anything and then keyed "SJW" into the side of his car. They gave out my personal information and now the SWAT team has been called to my apartment several times. I get death and rape threats stuck to my door regularly. Eventually I had to leave because nothing was being done about them and then they just followed me to my new community. I can literally hear them mouth breathing outside my apartment door right now and complaining about the feminazi conspiracy. Don't they have anything better to do?
Reddit Heights was complicit in all of this. Every time I confronted the manager about it, all he kept saying was "free speech".
I hope you are able in some way to help clean up the Reddit Heights community, because it really was an ok place to be with some great people in it. Now it has become a hostile place to be and management just pays lip service to stopping harassment.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this to file a complaint against Reddit Heights. My name is [REDACTED] and I am a [Occupation]. I was initially drawn to Reddit Heights by their varied sub-communities. There were groups who liked to discuss music, popular culture, science and technology, as well as cute animals. I also quite enjoyed the informal Q&A sessions they would host regularly (which they called "AMA"s). Overall, I found their community to be very welcoming.
Then I learned something that shocked to my core. There were Nazis in the basement. I'm not trying to be cute here, there was a concentrated group of actual white supremacists congregating in the basement. I heard about it from another community member.
When I confronted the building manager about it, he confirmed it as if I had asked him where the washroom was! "Oh yeah, down the hall to the right and watch out for the Nazis." He said our building was the largest hub of Neo-Nazis second only to the Stormfront Trailer Park across town. They occupied several levels in the basement, in sections given names such as [portmanteau of "racial slur for person of African decent" + "smaller than a city but larger than a village"] where they would gather to talk about how much they hated people of colour. When a white man walked into a black church and shot 9 people, you could hear the cheering from the basement all the way up most of the other floors. To say it was disturbing to find this out would be an understatement.
I asked him why they were here and the manager said that they hadn't actively committed a crime so kicking them out would be a violation of their free speech rights. I explained that freedom of speech does not mean a private company has an obligation to provide hate groups with a platform and that he was well within his rights to evict them. He explained that recently, certain "objectionable" communities were "reclassified" into a new two-tier system.
The manager told me the objectionable communities would be kept to their own floors, with a separate entrance and the entrance would be hidden so passers by could not see them. He didn't seem to understand why I had a problem with providing a hate group a special, private place to meet up, invisible to the outside world and unencumbered by a need to abide by the rules, after all, he had already created a separate set of rules just for them. Needless to say, I got pretty upset and asked him how he could justify filling his pockets off of hate. The manager told me, part of the new system meant that Reddit Heights couldn't be seen making money from them, so they were living there free of charge.
That meant that the rest of us who were putting up with advertisements in the hallways and following the rules of civil discourse were subsidizing the Nazis in the basement who were living there on Reddit Heights dime without any oversight or enforcement.
He tried to tell me that I would hardly notice them, but I left the office before he could finish. As I was leaving, in a panic he meekly squealed "FREE SPEECH!" as the door closed behind me.
How can I continue to contribute to a system that not only allows, but incentivizes hate? A system that rewards do-nothing management who are afraid to piss off the ignorant, the unstable and the uncivilized.
I guess it wasn't always this way. Reddit Heights used to have a no tolerance policy on hate speech. Management used to take an active role in creating a welcoming community but not allowing toxic elements in. Somewhere along the line, they allowed the inmates to run the asylum. Now, they can lock the place down, they can flout the rules, and they can basically enforce whatever standards they want to because management is so detached. A once lively and vibrant hub of discussion and, yes, debate is now a playpen full of tantruming children who will not hesitate to fling their crap on the walls at a moments notice. Now it's become a safe haven for every racist, misogynist, anti semite, homophobe and conspiracy nut.
It comes to a point where cute animal pictures just aren't worth it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Thank you to our anonymous tipster for forwarding these. The BBB has indicated it won't do anything, because it's largely a useless organization bought and paid for by big companies and it's power is mostly symbolic anyway. So...thanks for that I guess.
It really is a shame about Reddit Heights. It seems like it could have been a nice place to hang out.
Hi, my name is Mitch and I write things sometimes.