“Linda McMahon does NOT want you to see this film!”
“Wrestling With Manhood” Excerpts Show The Worst of Who We Are
Linda McMahon does NOT want you to see this film. Excerpt 2 can be seen in Resources & Notes below.
It’s a shame, really. Political campaigns are challenging enough these days. Candidates are expected to present themselves as they usually do- above reproach, consistent, and attuned to the needs and desires of the public. They must become caricatures spouting banalities and bromides and yet still come off as someone you would hang out with. It’s a sham, of course. It’s no more real than a frozen dinner that’s supposed to taste like it was prepared by chef with a French accent.
Messages are even more difficult to manage now because the Internet is a bottomless repository of evidence of human frailty…a fertile orchard of fat, succulent low hanging fruit. Witness Mitt Romney’s candid camera moment that may, quite possibly, sink his hopes of ever achieving any office higher than his brief cynical stint as governor of Massachusetts.
Campaign managers who used to sweat debate appearances and music selections at rallies now have to contend with potential online horrors that sit like a herpes virus waiting to erupt at the worst possible moment.
Case in point: Republican Linda McMahon is running for the Senate in Connecticut to replace the retiring Joe Lieberman in a very tight and critical race. The outcome could determine which party holds the majority in the U.S. Senate. McMahon presents herself as a pro-choice moderate ala Olympia Snow or Susan Collins. When she woos women in the Constitution State she does what a good candidate should do… she tells the voters that she is just like them…
“I’ve walked in your shoes. I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. I’m also a daughter. I know what it takes to have that guilt feeling when you leave your child at home that morning with a fever. Or you can’t make opening night of the school play, because you’ve been called away to do something else.” The ct mirror
She also offers her experience as a CEO of a successful corporation as another reason to vote for her.
All very appealing for New England voters on the most superficial level, which is where most campaigns would prefer to stay. But Linda McMahon’s people have a serious problem that’s proving very hard to treat.
McMahon was the CEO and partner with her husband, Vince McMahon, of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE). A very lucrative business noted for its lurid fantasies of violence, degradation and hyper-sexualized titillation…and graphic depictions of women being abused. And a whole lot of it was available online. Youtube and Vimeo were burgeoning with clips posted by rabid fans…which were reposted and re-Tweeted on teenage (mostly boys) Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
So, if you’re a campaign manager, how do you balance the potential votes of the much sought-after 18-35 male demographic that gets juiced watching badly acted testosterone pantomimes with the equally coveted moderate women’s vote? It’s likely that most self-respecting women who were to see the soft-core theater of the grotesque (many of which feature McMahon’s husband, herself and that feverish daughter she was so concerned about) would not consider her to be the best choice to represent them in the Senate.
The people who manage candidates and their campaigns do not want to be in the situation of having voters trying to reconcile the story line the ad team so carefully concocted with unsavory evidence to the contrary…especially this stuff.
The response to this significant threat was to try and cleanse the Internet of all vestiges of the worst stuff…the R-rated stuff… and leave the silly, more (by their estimation) benign schlock. Youtube and Vimeo were notified by McMahon’s posse to remove all copyrighted material. They complied, as they should have. And now it’s as difficult to find pictures of Paul Ryan shirtless as it is to find the most egregious clips from WWE’s self-described “Attitude Era”.
Back in 2003…before Linda McMahon expressed any interest in running for office… the Media Education Foundation produced a film, “Wrestling With Manhood” that was a critical study of the salacious representation of women and the glorification of the abuse of women in the WWE. MEF Executive Director, Sut Jhally and anti-sexist activist, Jackson Katz laid out, in excruciating detail, the case that WWE events were promoting the debasement of women, gays and even men in ways that are difficult to ignore.
The videos are very difficult for anybody to watch…but they are especially disturbing to women because they are the most stark representations of a male world where women are diminished, defiled and dismissed.. and, thus affirms their experiences and their greatest fears. These clips are difficult…probably impossible… to explain away as “gotcha” and campaign sandbagging.
We offer these excerpts from that film, not as a campaign smear, but as an indictment separate from the comparatively trivial Senate race in Connecticut. The issues raised by “Wrestling With Manhood” need to be reckoned with… by us all. What do they say about us as a society that supposedly aspires to be just?
Linda McMahon must address these performances that made her wealthy enough to fund her own campaign…whether she wins or not. Their stain cannot be purged from our minds with a cease and desist order. There must be an accounting beyond a campaign finance report, because she was complicit in nurturing and profiting from the exploitation of the worst aspects of who we can be and have been.
This film represents something much more than a mere campaign liability. It’s a shame.
by Bob Magee at WrestlingInc.com