AS I SEE IT
by: Bob Magee
Well, this has certainly been an interesting week for me.
Let's see, there was a certain column by a certain webmaster that decided to attempt to question my credibility...
Trust me. I don't worry about my credibility. The people who matter to me in my life don't question it. The people I respect don't question it.
If someone with a personal issue chooses to be so reckless as to involve those other than myself in an issue they have with something I've written; they've made a statement that speaks volumes about their own judgement and credibility, not mine.
I should also add that the webmaster in question owes the individual he brought into this matter an apology for attempting to involve her. He needs to offer her this apology to her in as public a manner as was the comment he made.
Then there was the attempt by an individual or individuals to cancel my Hotmail account (the one I use for replies to this column). Since those at Hotmail won't release the name of those responsible, I certainly can't prove their identity or identities. But I have my suspicions. Sorry, whoever, it didn't work.
Now to the reason I actually write this column...wrestling.
Is it me, or are both major promotions trying to "out-smart" each other? What I mean is this: Are the WCW and WWF both trying to compete for the "Internet smart mark" population at the expense of their mainstream audience?
Those of us in the "Internet smart mark" category always enjoy "inside" comments and references made on RAW, Nitro, Smackdown, Thunder and the like. I'm no different in that regard. But when those comments seem to become the rule, rather than the exception, I sometimes have to wonder about how much sense it makes to do so in a seemingly non-stop manner.
Those running wrestling promotions shouldn't be confused about the fact that we Internet smart marks are STILL not the majority among those watching wrestling. Our numbers are certainly growing, with access to news and rumors (however accurate or inaccurate) through the Internet that once was available to far smaller numbers. But it isn't a majority. Not yet.
This marketing to the Internet smart marks has occurred with both major promotions. With WCW, this has shown itself with the storywriting of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera; which seems to be directed primarily in the last three weeks to the Internet crowd. With the WWF, the issue has come up with using their website to give spoilers for taped shows to encourage viewership on more than one occasion; or with the WWF debut of Chris Jericho.
With WCW and the WWF doing this, they make an assumption that Internet fans make a significant enough portion of the Monday night ratings numbers to make up for irritating those who get upset with spoilers being revealed in a way they can't ignore; not to mention those who aren't online. The Observer, Torch, or other newsletters don't have this problem, as only Thunder and the syndicated WWF shows have results a week behind, thus they don't report spoilers in the same manner.
Most of the sites and newsletters that carry the AS I SEE IT column are really clear with posts that contain spoilers from taped events. Let someone slip up on that, and they get lots of nasty e-mails from those who still prefer to be surprised when they turn on a TV show.
Then there's the ever-increasing use of kayfabe/carny terms on TV shows. PWBTS, the flagship site of this column, has a directory of those terms on the site. So do many other sites. But it wasn't even a year ago, when I was questioned by an employee of a wrestling company regarding us doing so, with all the traditional arguments against "exposing the business", including the "You never worked in this business, what gives you the right to use or talk about these words?" argument. When you think about it, even my use of the word "smart mark" in this column is doing just that.
Again, many of the Internet "smart marks" are well aware of the terms and their meaning. But the average fan watching a show may not have been. That is, until the ECW and the WWF featured the "J.O.B. Squad". The average viewer was left to wonder what "doing a job" meant. More recently, RAW and Smackdown have frequently made reference to a worker's "character". They aren't referring to personal integrity, folks.
WCW has had various examples of this, as well. Most of them were only occasional, such as the Brian Pillman use of "bookerman" in the "Loose Cannon" angle. But the last three weeks has featured quite a bit of these references, again with an audience that might be even less inclined to understand all those references.
A final point: There are many of us watching who have been "smartened up" that like to suspend our disbelief. Constant exposure to kayfabe/ carny, and to the fact that the business is a work within the context of a TV show or PPV itself doesn't allow for that suspension of disbelief.
I'm not referring use of insider terminology or discussion of a person's character in a mainstream TV appearance, such as a legitimate media interview; or what Mick Foley wrote in his biography. What I mean is within the context of a wrestling program.
A case in point: If I were to have a day off from work, and turned on the soaps to watch "All My Children", I wouldn't see Susan Lucci coming out of her Erica Kane character every other episode. On All My Children, she plays Erica Kane, the diva par excellence that she's played for over 20 years. But on the TV interviews she does on the seemingly dozens of entertainment-oriented TV shows, she's Susan Lucci.
I'd be curious to what readers think..
Until next time.....
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If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org