FROM JHAWK'S BEAK
OK, a special treat (because I don't feel like typing all of this twice), we're doing this one for both slashwrestling.com and the weekly Hulk Hogan Hater's Klub newsletter. (Dave, I know this isn't my usual e-mail addy, but again, I don't wanna write this twice.) I'm going to try to keep this clean for the sake of the HHHK, but I'll give Dave the right to edit down as needed. By the way, e-mail GoSeminoles@netscape.net for subscription info.
My original plan for this week was to give a full rundown of SmackDown! in Cleveland with spoilers. Well, since I can't find my notes on the show, *and* since I got a little bit tipsy in the Flats after the show, we're going to forgo that. Well, actually, we're going to forgo that because it's time for another installment of...
WCW'S POISON IS CONTAGIOUS
Now, it's no secret that the WWF's writing has been on par with what WCW's writing was like during the last, oh, three years they were in existence or so. Let's nearly kill a bulldog because she did her business on the carpet. SMELL THE RATINGS! Gotta love that Crash TV, right Mr. Russo? But another very bad habit has creeped into the WWF as of late...the sign police.
For those of you who are unaware of the sign police (or WCW policies in general), basically WCW used to be so anal about who got pushed and who didn't that if you got caught bringing any sign that didn't expressly have "Hogan", "Nash", or "nWo" listed in a positive light, they would take it away from you. Well, that's not exactly true, I saw a couple of Scott Steiner sign in one night. And basically, they ticked off the vast majority of the fanbase, some of whom refused to attend another show after getting something like "Push Benoit" taken away from them and being handed some "HOgan RuLZ" sign in its place or something.
Well, I go to the SmackDown! tapings Tuesday night, and it turns out the WWF has their own sign police. And they're not really anal about it, they're just inconsistent. I spend an hour sitting through boring match after boring match for Heat (Godfather vs. Perfect doesn't exactly sound like a good TV main event--at least Perfect got a huge pop), finally got a decent match about an hour in (Saturn/Crash vs. Spike/Hurricane--good stuff if a bit slow), and just as Lillian Garcia is done with the National Anthem, some security dude tries to take my "Proud Member of the Hulk Hogan Hater's Klub" sign because "You can't spell klub with a k, we can't put that on TV." So in trying to explain to him what the HHHK is, he goes "You can either go to guest services and talk to them or I have to take the sign. Your choice." He's obviously annoyed, and I don't know if it's because I'm being obstinate or because he doesn't agree with the decision either. But he wasn't too rude about it (he wasn't nice about it either), and I'm not going to complain to him when he's being given orders. So I go to guest services, and the explanation they gave me is production can't put certain things on TV, such as profanity and racist slurs, and "Hater's Klub" could send the wrong message.
So let me get this straight. That sign in the fifth row that had HHH stand for "Hot Huge Hooters" is OK. The sign that said "I have a pube on my penis" is OK. The sign in the second row that said "I can't wait til the Olson Twins are legal" is OK. But saying "I hate Hulk Hogan" isn't.
HOGAN IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE GODDAMNED HEEL! WE'RE *SUPPOSED* TO HATE HIM! How many signs out there say "Kurt Angle sucks" or "Chris Jericho sucks"? Couldn't I claim their promoting oral sex? What about all the "I Love Lucy" signs I saw Tuesday night? Beastiality, perhaps?
But they're not promoting oral sex or beastialty. Their either opinions or ways to get on TV. That's it. That's all 98% of signs that are brought to the arenas are. Hell, look at the time frame the Little Rascals originally was in theaters. They had the "He-Man Womun Hater's Klub". That was in the 1930's. In 1939, Clark Gable told Vivian Leigh he didn't give a damn and people were in arms, but they had no trouble watching shorts featuring the "He-Man Womun Hater's Klub". I'm sure I'll get the excuse that it's because they're little kids and that means it's cute, but you get the point. Have we regressed so far in the country that we have to be worried about somebody calling in over the Hulk Hogan Hater's Klub?
And being from Northeast Ohio, I am fully well aware of people overreacting over something trivial. Cleveland is the city of Chief Wahoo. Anybody in the general area is well aware that the minority is trying to spearhead the campaign to get rid of Chief Wahoo. And by "minority", I mean the minority of the Indian/Native American/whatever-term-doesn't-offend-them population. They prefer to be called by tribal names, but I'm not listing that many names I can't spell here. And as much as I disagree with the anti-Chief Wahoo movement, at least there's an important motivation for it. People think it's racist. A minority. As in not enough to get rid of it.
You know how many people in the Gund Arena complained about my sign? No one. Why? Because there was nothing wrong with it. Racist? No. Profane? No. Obscene? No. Not even sexually implicit, unlike the countless signs making fun of Stephanie's implants.
I am fully well aware that there are certain things that can't get on TV. Profanity, obscenity, racial slurs...I agree, those have no business being on TV. On a live show, you *ask* for the sign with that explanation. Don't be rude, just say "Hey, the censors will yell at us if that sign airs because [insert legit reason here], could you please give that to us?" Most people who are still remotely sober will give it to you if you're nice about it. But two things have to be present.
1. You have to be nice about taking the signs.
Then there's the other factor. It wasn't a live broadcast. It was being taped for two days down the road. If the sign is *really* that big a problem, blur it out in post-production. Simple. Or at least have somebody from production have the guts to confront me personally instead of some having some security guard do it.
Also think of this. We have a document in this country called the U.S. Constitution. (For you British people, it's similar to the Magna Carta. For you Canadian people it's similiar to...um, whatever your major document is.) And in that document is a little thing called the First Amendment. It grants us the right to freedom of expression as long as it's not causing harm to others, such as yelling "Fire" in a crowded theatre. But I hardly think "Proud member of the Hulk Hogan Hater's Klub" classifies as yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater. And for that matter, it was a factual statement. Because I AM a proud member of the Hulk Hogan Hater's Klub. The Hulk Hogan Hater's Klub is one of the longest running e-mail newsletters ever (celebrating 275 issues this week). I've been part of close to 200 of those, either as a writer or a reader, and I'm proud of the intelligence its readers and subscribers show.
And until Tuesday night, I was proud to be a WWF fan, even as bad as the product *has* gotten. But little things like confiscating signs and a bad product are what turned fans off of WCW in the first place. Vince McMahon, this might be your last chance to keep the fanbase happy. Don't blow it by alienating your hardcore fans. If they go...you'll go from a billionaire to an out-of-work man in no time. And none of us reading this or watching your product really want to see that.
Feedback, as always, is appreciated. And HHHKers, rejoice. To paraphrase the immortal words of Monty Python, "Help help, we're being repressed!"