AS I SEE IT - 8/03/2000
by: Bob Magee
Welcome this week to three new sites carrying AS I SEE IT: Brent Fusaro's Chairshots.com, the parent site of the Chairshots wrestling radio show in New England; the Viewers Rights Council, the website of a new anti-PTC group at http://www.vrcouncil.org, and Wrestleville at http://wrestleville2001.hypermart.net.
This column features the continuing adventures of the US-based Parents Television Council versus our right to watch the uncensored sports entertainment of our choice...
The WWF continued the 'Steven Richards" Internet storyline...and began the process of taking on the PTC full-blast. In what may be one of the better examples of how to use the Internet to further the angle, the WWF had the 'Steven Richards' character 'censor' the Godfather's Ho-Train.com site this past week after the Godfather lost a stipulation match where the Godfather had to "give up his Hos" if he lost.
Then, the Godfather was turned heel as the 'Goodfather' as a new and "converted" member of "Steven Richards's 'cult' " on Smackdown Thursday night.
The WWF took the next step when it took the former links on the Ho-Train site, such as VidiHOs, pHOtos, HOpefuls, and so on, and made them all go to http://www.wwfho-train.com/censorsite/board.html.
The site is a clear and direct shot at the Parents Television Council, with two clearly patterned links almost exactly resembling the PTC website, "Mission Statement" and an "Advisory Board". Others are more general links clearly designed to continue the censorship theme of the angle; such as "acceptable photos", "acceptable videos"and "acceptable women".
Here's a sample of the "bio" of the lead member of the "Advisory Board":
"STEVEN RICHARDS has appointed himself as the censor of the World Wrestling Federation, and that couldn't have happened soon enough. The World Wrestling Federation is a cesspool of moral depravity, and Steven is here to clean things up. Already, Steven has rid the Federation of the "Ho Train." He has tried to curb the Acolytes' smoking and drinking problems. He has also restricted the Dudley Boyz' use of tables and Al Snow's use of blow-up dolls. All of these superstars who try to add to their success through disgusting, depraved, perverted actions must be stopped, and Steven is just the man to do it.
Steven has amassed an army of competitors who will help him further his cause, which is to rid the World Wrestling Federation of its bad influences. Both Bull Buchanan - a powerful soldier - and the Good Father - a former sinner who Steven has rehabilitated - are willing to carry out Steven's plan to make the Federation a morally redeeming place.
You may not like Steven's actions. But they are for your own good."
The WWF provided further evidence of its willingness to turn the heat up a notch when Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler made at least seven references to "cults" and "drinking the grape Kool-Aid" during the segment where the "Godfather" turned into the "Goodfather".
I should proudly note that PWBTS.com and the AS I SEE IT column made the first disclosures of L. Brent Bozell's connections to the Unification Church back in November 1999, a column you can read for yourself at http://pwbts.com/columns/b112899.html when I said 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 major promotion's wrestling shows 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."
This week's Monday Night RAW gave us the next step, where in yet another satirical slap at the PTC, the tag team of Bull Buchanon and the "Goodfather" is being referred to as the "Right To Censor" with an acronym of...ahem...the "RTC". This after "Steven Richards" referred to himself as the "the Person Taking Control" on the Stevie Richards.com website. I should also note that the Stevie Richards website also provides links to PTC Sucks.com and Wrestling Fans Against Censorship. More on WFAC in a minute...
Then, right after the "Steven Richards" segment, wrestling fans and those at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia...and no doubt the folks at the PTC... were greeted with this message on Monday Night RAW:
"The World Wresting Federation Entertainment, Inc. (NMS: WWFE) has launched the first stage of becoming a part of the political process. WWF kicks off its involvement with advertisements timed to coincide with the Republican National Convention.
'WWF fans are a cross-section of Americana. They are the voice of the people, and they will elect the next president of the United States,'" said Linda McMahon, Chief Executive Officer of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. (WWFE). "More than 14 million eligible voters elect to watch WWF programming each week. We communicate with these fans on a regular basis, and this year's elections provide us with a unique opportunity to encourage them to exercise their freedom of choice.' "
Ms. McMahon, representing the WWFE, will attend both the Republican and Democratic conventions. She will work during the conventions with the National Foundation for Women Legislators, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to ensuring that women continue the gains they have made in assuming legislative office in America."
Apparently the WWF views this non-partisan voter education and registration activity this fall as a pre-emptive strike against any efforts toward government legislation toward the censoring of sports entertainment by whichever of the two major party candidates, Texas Republican Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore take office.
It seemed this past week that the PTC was quite willing to fight its battle via electronic media, but wasn't willing to deal with the public in a manner that they couldn't control.
Last week, after starting an hour late, The Parents Television Council's President Mark Honig only took three phone calls, none directly relating to the issue of censoring professional wrestling on the Dallas-based KTRS "Big 550" radio program that advertised itself as having a conversation with president of the Parents Television Council.
Many believe that this was deliberately done to avoid taking any calls from those asking any negative questions to Honig, given the wide publicity about his scheduled Wednesday appearance.
With the growing activity against the PTC, there has consequently been more mainstream press coverage of the censorship battle. The most recent is a great satirical one by Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Examiner entitled: "Hey, Wannabe TV censors: Bottle it! "
Here are some excerpts:
"...While you're quietly wondering how you'll live without "Beverly Hills 90210" or secretly hoping that "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" will go to seven days a week, there's been some serious TV squabbling among lawmakers.
This happens quite a bit, actually. People get upset about television in one way or another and they go cry to Congress. Because it's not politically wise to be pro-choice when it comes to letting people watch what they want — this country has always been about censoring television and movies, no matter what those famous declarations say — most politicians take these complaints seriously.
Think about it. It's a win-win situation for either party: "Violence on TV is bad! Racy TV shows are bad! Kids are killing kids because of TV!" On and on. Won't pass a handgun bill to save their lives, but TV? That's a no-brainer for a crackdown.
The current series of dust-ups in the Senate were started by the Parents Television Council, an extremely conservative group with former funnyman and current censorship goon Steve Allen as their poster boy. They released a report last month that said sex, violence and profanity have tripled on television in the last 10 years.
And they want it stopped. Waah!
What they have conveniently ignored is that their efforts — and those of religious and conservative groups before them for years — have already resulted in the creation of the V-chip and ratings for TV shows.
Apparently that's not good enough. It seems that parents aren't really taking the time or showing an interest in checking out what ratings shows get, then using the guidelines (as intended) to shield the shows from their children (or themselves, who knows).
And the V-chip, mandatory in all new televisions and capable of blocking out shows, is either too complicated to learn how to use or the fight to get them installed took all their energy and now they're simply too tired to screen anything, and that damned "WWF Smackdown!" is ruining their family. Let's not forget that modern cable boxes are also capable of channel-blocking. And then there's that foolproof innovation for stopping unwanted programming: the off button on the remote. Or, more extreme measures are available — like unplugging the TV set, not putting a TV in a child's room or simply not owning one..."
The remainder of his article can be found at http://www.examiner.com/000505/0505goodman.html
Then on July 31st, the PTC proved Tim Goodman correct by collectively going "Waaaaaah!"
It seems that the Republican National Convention invited Duane Johnson (aka "The Rock") to introduce a speaker as a part of the segment where Republican Vice-Presidential Dick Cheney was to be introduced.
The PTC in turn sought to get Republican National Committee to withdraw the invitation to Maivia in a hysterical E-Alert to its members on July 31st:
PTC Calls For GOP to Drop The Rock
The Parents Television Council (PTC) today called on the Republican Party to withdraw its invitation to the WWF's The Rock, star of the most violent and vulgar program on prime time network television, to join House Speaker Dennis Hastert Wednesday evening in calling delegates to their seats.
'It is deplorable that at a time when corporate America is deserting [WWF Smackdown!] due to its graphic violence and vulgarity, the Republican Party would embrace the WWF. By giving The Rock such a prominent role at the convention, the GOP is in effect saying that the values of the WWF -- violence, profanity, graphic sexuality, the demeaning of women, and the promotion of racial stereotypes -- are shared by the Party,' said L. Brent Bozell III, chairman of the Parents Television Council.
The Rock, known as 'the people's champion,' regularly uses obscene and profane language, has taken metal chairs, a shovel and a sledgehammer to opponents, and refers to women's genitalia as 'poontang pie... '
It is unconscionable that one of America's major political parties would give a prime time platform to someone who encourages children to behave in such a violent and vulgar manner. WWF programming is marketed to nearly 3 million children on a weekly basis; the GOP does not need to - nor should it -- endorse this offensive programming at its convention. The GOP should immediately withdraw its invitation. The Republican Party is sending the wrong message to our children, said Bozell.
Send a clear message that you do not support the GOP's embrace of the values of the WWF: violence, profanity, graphic sexuality, the demeaning of women, and the promotion of racial stereotypes."
In response to the continued efforts of the PTC, the "grand daddy of them all", Wrestling Fans Against Censorship, which was started by Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets, Strictly ECW, and Piledriver Press back in autumn 1999...has a new design, a new location and a renewed vigor in the fight against the PTC, it's hypocrisy and it's practices.
Since those days hundreds, if not thousands of wrestling fans have done their part to help sway the opinions of advertisers and sponsors toward the pro-censorship stance of the Parents Television Council.
Sites like Rock Against Censorship, PTCsucks.com, Freedom TV and manyothers have joined the fight, uniting wrestling fans from around the country and even the world to help us combat the likes of L.Brent Bozell III and his organizations.
You can go to the new Wrestling Fans Against Censorship site located at http://www.geocities.com/wfac_2000 and see what is happening on a daily basis in the continuing fight against censorship.
By the way, those of us at PWBTS.com (the flagship site of AS I SEE IT) and WFAC also want to take a moment to thank the person this week on RAW who was carrying the "PTC fears WFAC" sign that was displayed throughout the opening of the show and also all through the "Steven Richards" segment.
As I finish this updated version of the column Thursday morning, even the delegates at the Republican National Convention seems to have weighed in with their opinion the pro-censorship tactics of L. Brent Bozell and the PTC.
Duane Johnson came out, indeed in character with even his entrance music as "The Rock". There were signs in the crowd like "Republican Moms Love The Rock" and "Rock for President". Here's a transcript from the Pro Wrestling Torch:
"... Now, let the Rock get this straight. You invited the Rock, the World Wrestling Federation Champion, to speak at the Republican National Convention?
Well, the Rock says this... What's the matter with you people? If the Rock didn't know any better, he'd say you might be trying to reach out to the Rock's fans: the 14 million eligible voters who watch the Rock every single week!
Well if that's the case, then the Rock's got two words for ya....Thank you...
Thank you on behalf of all our fans across America, and thank you for recognizing the passion and the potential power of those fans, who will no doubt help elect the next President of the United States. Now let the Rock introduce America's best known former high school wrestling coach... the Speaker of the House....the honorable Dennis Hastert."
Face it, when even the Republican National Convention, a group with numerous intolerant members that refused to give courtesy to a openly gay Republican Congressman yesterday when he spoke...when even THEY think L. Brent Bozell and his shock troops are going too far, that should give you readers all the message that you need.
It should also give the 42 remaining companies that are providing money through the PTC Marketplace program to such an extremist group second thoughts about continuing to do so. It should prove to those running the 48 companies that have discontinued their participation the proof that they made the correct choice and are in step with the rest of America.
To close by relating an slightly different topic, it's been four years since an certain event occurred that was pivotal to several of us at PWBTS. A person dear to many of us at PWBTS was removed from her longtime job at ECW, simply because a person who claims to have a"relationship" with the owner of ECW wanted that job. The person who stole that job has even been memorialized by ECW on a t-shirt as their "nasty ticket lady". She and others involved caused our friend great pain... a pain we will not ever forgive them for causing her.
There were those in the online wrestling media who refused to stand by this person, even though she had helped them gain entree into ECW, and provided them for basis of the success they enjoy today within the wrestling industry. Those of us at PWBTS stood up for her when those individuals would not do so. We spoke out about it, frequently.
We're proud of doing that, even four years later.
I like to think that it shows that those of us at PWBTS.com, the flagship site of AS I SEE IT; believe that it's more important to stand up for what is right, rather than what is expedient. We believe that it's more important to stand up for what we know fans support, rather than what would provide our website a provide temporary political benefit or greater commercial success within wrestling.
In the way we supported our friend four years ago, PWBTS supports the right of fans to watch the sports entertainment they choose; be that the family-oriented product of an NWA-Jersey, the hardcore product of a Combat Zone Wrestling, or the over-the-top product of the World Wrestling Federation....without the censorship of those who purport the right to be our censors....without putting politics above conscience... without sacrificing loyalty to who and what we believe for any price.
THAT is the way we see it.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)