AS I SEE IT - 6/21/2000
by: Bob Magee
A welcome this week to NewzWire at http://wrestle.pbp.hypermart.net, Wrestling Central.Net at http://www.wrestlingcentral.net, Wrestling Leader at http://www.wrestlingleader.com, Wrestling-Online.Net at http://wrestling-online.net, the Inside the Squared Circle News/Comment Board at http://www.itscwrestling.com, and the returning Sports Entertainer Online from the United Kingdom at http://seo.hypermart.net.
This now makes 81 sites running AS I SEE IT in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
PWBTS has recently received a number of e-mails from an anonymous individual accusing me of being a "just a shill for extreme wrestling".
But those misguided e-mails allow us to segue nicely to the subject of this column, which is far more important than this person's opinion of me.
I'm not a shill. Instead, what I am is a wrestling fan who stands in opposition to outside forces telling us what we should be watching on TV or at house shows.
That holds whether that outside force is Joseph Doria and Christie Whitman trying to tell me I whether or not I can watch so-called "extreme wrestling"; or the right-wing US lobby group known as the Parents Television Council, telling me whether or not I can watch WWF Smackdown on my local UPN affiliate, WPSG 57 in Philadelphia.
Does that statement mean I'm not first an armchair booker like everyone that reads this column, trying to figure out what McMahon, Heyman, or whoever is booking WCW this week is going to do? Does that mean I don't go to house shows and mark out like hell if there's something I like, or let them know if I don't?
The day I quit being able to mark out for the things I enjoy in wrestling, I stop writing this column and stop following wrestling.
But unfortunately, being a wrestling fan can't be limited to that anymore. Not with the kinds of people who want to take away those pleasures from us seemingly on the warpath.
Let's go back to my 11/28/99 AS I SEE IT column:
"With this 'Parents Television Council' alone, the Defense Department has pulled recruiting ads from Smackdown. Coca-Cola has pulled its ads from WWF programming.
Do you STILL think this won't happen? Do you STILL think it's a bunch of people on the Internet running around half-cocked? Go ahead and believe that.
Suddenly, you'll see that someone who has appointed themselves your moral guardian will have told you what you can watch. Suddenly either one or more of the wrestling shows of major promotions will not air, at least in any fashion recognizable today.
Your wrestling will have been 'sanitized for your protection' by a right-wing front group run by a man named L. Brent Bozell III, whose father wrote speeches for Joseph McCarthy, the United States Senator responsible for creating a generation of political cowardice and fear during the 1950s. L. Brent Bozell who worked for the Unification Church, better known to all as the 'Moonies' religious cult.
According to the WWF website, Bozell has 'attacked programs like the cartoon show Captain Planet and the Planeteers because it 'seeks to indoctrinate children and scare them into leftist political activism', has stated that the media panders to gays, that Bryant Gumbel is an 'insufferable leftist', and that Nelson Mandela is 'the leader of a terrorist movement'.
Let me get this straight. The Captain Planet TV show is a 'little red school house of the air'? Corny, perhaps...but indoctrinating children? C'mon...
CBS morning anchor Bryant Gumbel is a 'leftist'? Yeah, you'll see see him hanging out around the local Socialist Workers party office every day. Right.
Nelson Mandela, the George Washington of South Africa is a 'terrorist'? Give me a damned break.
Listen up, readers... reading this kind of right-wing garbage should scare the hell out of you. Suddenly the potential exists for those who would only see the kind of TV programs that their own extreme political views deem appropriate to pull your favorite programming from TV. It's time to challenge them."
We all thought that the PTC had calmed down after getting thousands of e-mails, to the point that they couldn't do business....after the companies that participate in the PTC Marketplace program (which provides needed funding to this group) have been bombarded with e-mails and telephone calls. Fans said that they were tired of hearing us talk about the Parents Television Council.
That all ended earlier this month, when the PTC proved us wrong. They are going full throttle forward again...with former talk show host Steve Allen leading an successful effort to force MCI WorldCom to pull its advertising dollars from WWF Smackdown, after Steve Allen and C. DeLores Tucker threatening a boycott when addressing the company's board of directors and shareholders.
Do you think MCI is the only company that is caving in to them?
Think again, after you read from the excerpts of material from letters received by the PTC from corporate executives, a complete list of which are listed on the PWBTS website:
From Allstate Insurance:
"A letter to PTC Chairman Brent Bozell from an Allstate representative read, in part, 'Like you, Allstate is very concerned about promoting positive values and is extremely selective about the types of programming on which our advertising appears. That is why we have strict guidelines about what is considered appropriate for our brand.
We are in agreement that WWF Smackdown! is inappropriate and feel that it is certainly in conflict with the image Allstate wants to portray. Consequently, we have not and would not purchase time in WWF Smackdown! or any other of the WWF properties.
Thanks for taking the time to write. It helps to keep the issue of controversial programming [in] mind as we plan future advertising schedules."
"AT&T's internal review of Smackdown!'s raunchy program prompted them to withdraw their sponsorship. An AT&T executive told the PTC that the company no longer advertises on the show."
From Bank of America:
"Thank you for your recent letter to our CEO Hugh McColl about WWF Smackdown! Bank of America had already chosen not to advertise on professional wrestling for all the reasons your letter covers."
From Best Foods:
"We would like to reassure you that Best Foods has not and will not place any advertising on Smackdown! or any other program that is incompatible with our rigorous advertising standards."
From Campbell Soup Company:
"We want to assure you that we do not advertise during WWF Smackdown! We share your concern about the content of today's television programming, we avoid sponsoring programs with excessive displays of violence, sex, profanity, or anti-social behavior. Our goal is to advertise on programs that promote family values."
"Prompted by the information and material you sent, we have determined that airing commercials on WWF Smackdown! would be clearly inconsistent with The Clorox Company's guidelines for responsible advertising. I understand and personally share your repugnance for the irresponsible and disturbing content of this show. In short, I would like to assure you that Clorox will not advertise on WWF Smackdown! so long as it continues in its currently highly offensive format. Sincerely, G. Craig Sullivan, Chairman and CEO."
"WWF Smackdown! does not meet our standards as an appropriate advertising environment for our brands. As a result, we have instructed our agency to suspend our advertising in this program."
"We are not currently advertising on WWF Smackdown! nor do we have any plans to do so in the future."
From Domino's Pizza:
"After reviewing your materials, I monitored a portion of the programs myself, then discussed them with both our internal advertising department and our external advertising agency. We agree that these shows do not represent the family values our organization strives to uphold."
From Federated Department Stores which owns Macy's and Bloomingdale's:
"Let me assure you that the day any of our stores sign on to sponsor world wrestling [the WWF] is a day to expect blizzard conditions in hell."
From General Motors:
"We are in complete agreement that this is not the kind of programming GM should be associated with and we will not be running GM advertisements on this program in the future. As soon as we became aware of the content of the program, GM instructed the station contacts that our advertising should never run on this show again."
"Our advertising agencies have confirmed that, even with the new [WWF Smackdown!] format, this remains a program on which a Kellogg advertisement will never be placed."
From M&M Mars:
"After a review of our advertising, we have made decisions regarding our future activities. One of those decisions is to stop our current advertising during WWF Smackdown! We will strive to win back your loyalty with our future efforts to provide you with great tasting snackfoods for you and your family's enjoyment."
"We regularly monitor and assess the broadcast content within which our advertising might be placed so as to meet high standards for ethics, quality and taste. Through this selection and monitoring process we attempt to achieve our business objective while ensuring that our media choices are appropriate and tasteful. Specifically with respect to WWF Smackdown!, please be assured that Pfizer has not advertised on this show in the past."
From SBC Communications, which owns Cellular One, Pacific Bell, Southwestern
"WWF Smackdown! is on SBC's list of unacceptable programs. Our media buying agency is strictly prohibited from buying this program, and all others on our unacceptable programs list."
From Southwest Airlines:
A letter from the PTC to Southwest Airlines regarding Smackdown! elicited this response: "First of all, let me say that we do not advertise in Smackdown! Southwest Airlines does not direct its advertising dollars toward any program that we believe to be lewd, sexually oriented, violent or socially unacceptable.
"The intent at Southwest Airlines is to accurately reflect our own values by placing our ads in programs consistent with mainstream American values."
Those are just a few of the letters from companies crawling in the ideological gutter with the Parents Television Council.
Seems like it's time again for readers who are wrestling fans to start contacting advertisers and remind them that THEY are consumers, too. It's time to remind them that you can make judgements about whose products and services you will spend your money with. You can remind them that if they continue to cave in to right-wing pressure groups that do not represent the views of anything remotely near a majority of Americans; that your money will not be spent with their company.
It's equally important that you contact the sponsors of WWF you see listed below; AS WELL AS the sponsors of WCW and ECW programming. Tell them you appreciate their advertising support of programs you enjoy. Tony Lewis and the folks at STRICTLY ECW have been doing this for three years, calling it "preventive maintenance". Those of us who work in business call it client/customer relations.
That kind of work is real and necessary, especially now.
Do you buy a product from any of the following World Wrestling Federation domestic licensees?
Adorable Kids, Advanced Sports Concepts, American Marketing Enterprises, Berkshire Fashions, Carolina Manufacturing, Changes, Cranstow Consumer Products, Drew Pearson Marketing, Freeze, Happy Kids, Impulse Wear, Mr. Tees, Ocean Atlantic Textile Printing (Wild Oats), Ralph Marlin, Ramatex International, The Andover Apparel Group, The Home Game, The Rainbow Connection, Trau & Loevner, Trinity Products, Vida Shoes International, Bakery Crafts, Daily Juice Products, Good Humor Breyers, Oddz On, Sound Bites, Toymax, Cardinal Industries, Cuddletown Friends.
Or how about DSI Toys, Game Day Enterprises, Intervisual Books, Irwin Toys, Jakks, Just Toys, Larami, LA Toy Zone, Micro Games of America, Protos, Placo Toys, Planet Toys, Ringside Supplies, Spin Master Toys, Sports Fun, Top of the Line, Toy Island Manufacturing, Toys R Us, The United States Playing Cards, Bev Key of Canada, Franco Manufacturing, GMZ Associates, Holiday Fair, Jay-Gur International, Technicraft Industries, The Northwest Co., Another Line, Buy-Rite, Lawrence Eyewear, M.Z. Berger, Next Millennium, Pan Oceanic Eyewear, Cesar or Disguise?
If you buy products from a similar sponsor of ECW and World Championship Wrestling, contact them. Tell them the same thing. NOW.
The flagship site of the AS I SEE IT column, PWBTS, has a story from webmaster Fritz Capp on the PTC with information you can use located on the top of the PWBTS newsboard.
PWBTS co-founded a campaign called Wrestling Fans Against Censorship to combat the efforts of the Parents Television Council. The WFAC website, which can be found at http://pwbts.com/censor.html, provides information that readers may find helpful in terms of what the PTC is really about, and contact addresses/telephone numbers/e-mail addresses of "PTC Marketplace" corporate sponsors; as well as a complete list of WWF licensees.
Wrestling Fans Against Censorship was the first to speak out in an organized effort against the efforts of the Parents Television Council, with 204 endorsing fan-based and promotional websites endorsing the WFAC, including Memphis Power Pro Wrestling, Jim Cornette's Ohio Valley Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, Mid-South Wrestling, Yankee Pro Wrestling. Other endorsers include Strictly ECW (the ECW fans lobby group), and notable news sites such as Pro Wrestling Daily, Piledriver Press, Pro Wrestling Headliner, and Gerwick.Net.
You see, fighting for your right to enjoy the entertainment you prefer isn't being a shill.
It's being a taxpayer.
It's being a consumer.
It's being a responsible fan.
As has been said before, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing. That's true in the larger, global issues of life, but is also true when applied to the seemingly small things in life, such as our preferred entertainment.
Because when you as a fan or as a promoter fail to fight for the right of two independent promotions to offer the style of wrestling product that they choose (whether or not it is your own favorite style) without the interference of intrusive and discriminatory laws by State governments in general and State athletic commissions in particular; be prepared for those kind of laws to be imposed upon your favorite independent promotion, or even in WCW, the WWF, and ECW.
When you fail to fight the intrusion of the Parents Television Council over the WWF's Smackdown or any other wrestling program that you enjoy; or that a friend of yours enjoys...then you open yourself up to outright censorship of any and all programming you choose to view by small ideologically oriented pressure groups.
When you fail to fight for what you deserve... you deserve exactly what you get.
Until next time...
Postscript: After this article was completed, it became public that the Parents Television Council actually PROFITS FROM THE SALES OF WWF AND ECW MERCHANDISE through a link to Toys 'R Us on the PTC "Marketplace" program. If you'd like to learn about this apparent hypocrisy, please go to IGN Wrestling.com http://wrestling.ign.com/news/21064.html
However, as of 10:30 am EDT 6/21/2000, the Parents Television Council pulled the link on their Marketplace site for Toys 'R Us; given the response and publicity already received over their hypocrisy.
Just goes to show that the only thing that people like the PTC hate more than those who think differently than they do, is to get caught in their own hypocrisy.
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)