AS I SEE IT 2/6: Suicide, and using the dead, ISN'T painless
AS I SEE IT
Through early morning fog I see,
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Visions of the things to be,
The pains that are withheld for me,
I realize and I can see...
That suicide is painless.
It brings on many changes.
And I can take or leave it if I please...
M*A*S*H theme ("Suicide is Painless")
Yep...suicide is REALLY funny stuff.
In the last few weeks, WWE has given us Tim White, supposedly driven to despair because of his career-ending shoulder injury suffered in the Chris Jericho-Triple H Hell in the Cell match at the Judgment Day 2002 PPV, attempting to end his life by:
Shooting himself...in the foot... in the now-infamous skit which made PPV.
Hanging himself from the ceiling...
Throwing a toaster into a bathtub in which he was standing...complete with WWE fireworks special effects...
Slitting his wrists with a straight razor, complete with inserted sound of the noise of spurting blood (and shooting "blood" ala the Julia Child Saturday Night Live sketch)...
The latest classic featured this introduction on WWE.com: "Tim White is truly breathtaking in the latest edition of 'Lunchtime Suicide.'" In short, White attempted to pull the stunt that freaked out the Turner censors when Terry Funk tried it on Ric Flair..."suffocating" himself by placing a plastic bag over his head.
I'm not going to link to it. If you're desperate enough to see this nonsense, look it up yourself.
I had a cousin of mine pass away from throat cancer last week. Although he wasn't someone I had seen in many, many years; I did take the phone call at my house regarding his passing from his parents (my aunt), who grieved to a depth you'd expect.
Trust me, no one in my aunt's family would find any of the material in this angle to be funny. That includes the daughter of the cousin who passed away, who happens to be a WWE fan. Having taken that phone call from my aunt...I can assure you that, even though I found it tasteless as hell before, I find it even less amusing now.
The same is true about the latest attempt to use Eddie Guerrero's death, getting heel heat on Randy Orton by having him state to Rey Misterio that "Eddie is in hell, not Heaven", and using it to set up a PPV match; in which it has been reported that Rey Misterio's title shot won at the Royal Rumble will be given away to Randy Orton, Nice bait and switch for anyone that bought the Royal Rumble PPV that will piss off people by itself; forget the reference to Eddie Guerrero, a born-again Christian, being "in hell".
Using Guerrero's death to get over storylines is one thing. I know that reasonable people can see it as a tribute to Guerrero, and even rationalize that Eddie would understand that the traditional mentality in wrestling is to use just about anything to draw money; as seen in Mike Graham using the suicide death of his father Florida promoter Eddie Graham to get the Freebirds over as heels, when they jumped him after an on-air remembrance of his father.
I also understand that the aim of wrestling is to get an emotional response. But to use a wrestler's death and bringing in real life religious overtones, especially for someone like Guerrero who found religion and was said to truly practice what he preached...just strikes me as getting the wrong kind of heat. But for Orton to heel by saying someone is in hell, not Heaven...someone as beloved by fans as Guerrero was...is completely unnecessary and totally uncalled for. More than one report suggested that many of the workers backstage had lost respect for WWE management with this skit.
As for suicide...while UPN and USA have apparently refused to allow the Tim White suicide skits to air on broadcast or cable TV (even with "live sex celebrations" airing on USA, they have SOME standards), WWE.com airs these skits so that anyone with an online connection can see them.
God help Vince McMahon if any child, or even a teenager, watches these skits and attempts to imitate them; and a angry, grieving parent makes a real or perceived connection and gets a lawyer. The public outcry that would result from a mainstream media source after airing these online skits would likely make the furor that resulted from the Lionel Tate "wrestling death" case used by L. Brent Bozell to attack WWF/E (primarily to raise funds for his Parents Television Council) look like nothing.
The major difference would be that unlike the false connection that Bozell and the Tate's defense lawyer attempted to make between viewing WWE programming and killing a 6 year old child; these skits would be there for all the world to see...and unlike Tim White in the skits, the child or teenager wouldn't live to make another suicide attempt.
Until next time...
If you have comments/questions, or if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT
column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)