The “Say Something” Guy: An Analysis On Why Fans Act The Way They Do

13 Mar

kane paul bearer

Last Monday’s Raw featured a great deal of retrospective of the life and career of William Moody, otherwise known as Paul Bearer. Even with the widely debated and controversial utilization of this tragic event to further a major storyline between CM Punk and The Undertaker, the WWE still provided a very fitting tribute. While Punk used the death as a tool in which to further aggravate the Deadman, I feel he did so without directly insulting the man involved in this tragedy and kept it to a certain level of tastefulness.

The same cannot be said for a certain unknown fan within the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, who decided it would be a good idea to blurt out the phrase “Say something” to a solemn Kane, who was backstage holding an urn that was representative of the man who was a very influential part of his career. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and I assume the mouths of a majority of people watching at home. And it’s moments like these that make me deeply contemplate what compels someone to say something like that.

The theory that gets thrown around a great deal is that wrestling is the ultimate form of escapism, and while I find that true for the most part, it should not be used as an excuse. I’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of fans that feel the need to chant things that can be considered racist, homophobic, sexist and downright out of place or rude. They then tend to follow it by stating that they do not act this way in their normal day-to-day lives, but because they are attending a wrestling event, things are different.

Honestly, I don’t believe that for one second. No pro wrestling storyline or angle has made me pull a complete 180-degree turn and say something that I do not truly mean. For example, when I am at a pro wrestling event in rural San Antonio, TX and a majority of the crowd is tearing apart a young gentlemen in leopard print tights and a leopard headband, (who quite frankly wasn’t doing anything to demean or accost them) yelling at him that he is a “homo”, encouraging their children to scream the same things, and then once that person has been defeated, chanting “Homo’s gotta go” at him as he leaves, I feel uncomfortable.

If that situation sounds extremely specific, it’s because it legitimately happened.

Many of times, the justification that is given to me by others for things like this is that “It’s wrestling”. Pro wrestling has tendencies to be homophobic, racist etc. There’s no real denying that. But, that doesn’t mean that a fan of pro wrestling must in turn become a fan of these tendencies. They are not one in the same. Act the way that you would act if this same situation were placed in front of you in a real life scenario. In other words, never compromise your beliefs and morals because of what the people on wrestling do.

In this instance however, I think it has more to do with a fan’s sense of entitlement as opposed to mimicking the way they would behave in normal life. I’ve seen very crass fans justify their actions by stating that because they dolled out a certain amount of money for their ticket, they can behave in any which way they please. Yes, that person has most likely worked hard to earn that money, and therefore their seat in the crowd. But in no way should the degradation of a performer by a fan, because of the desire for a certain end product, be approved. Eliminating the idea of kayfabe from this situation, we saw a man mourning the death of someone who he has traveled the roads with for many years. He was mourning a man who helped to shape his iconic character in its early stages and who has inspired so many others. And another person is screaming at him in a time of reflection that he needs to talk more. No amount of money entitles a person to do such a thing and not be at the least accosted for it.

Pro wrestling faces massive problems when it comes to dealing with fan entitlement. They want to make fans apart of the show as much as possible. But where do you draw the line? We are known to be opinionated, and very often we become demanding because of those opinions. But hopefully, no obstinate attitude will get in the way when looking at the bigger picture. As much as that fan may have wanted Kane to do something different, in this case speak more, something greater was playing out before him and it most definitely was not the time, nor the place.

Maybe it is because we want to be the same style of fan we are while sitting down and watching every week of television, just so we can try to pretend the heavy stuff is not real. Let’s just hope that’s what was going through that mans head, and hopefully it will provide a bit of reasoning as to why a person would do or say such a thing.

We can only hope.

Eamon Paton is a college sophomore, Texan, and wrestling fan for over 10 years. He writes at his blog, where I talk all things pro wrestling. You can also listen to him talk pro wrestling on the Wrestling Mayhem Show podcast, a part of the Sorgatron Media network. Follow him on twitter @TheWrestlefan.

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18 Responses to “The “Say Something” Guy: An Analysis On Why Fans Act The Way They Do”

  1. Kevin Newburn (@KevinNewburn) March 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Nice Article! I will say, the “say something” mentality isn’t exclusive to pro graps. A couple weeks ago I saw Lewis Black in person and a guy got thrown out because apparently he thought he bought tickets to a conversation with Lewis Black.

    • Stacey March 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      I can’t effing stand those people. I almost hate going to see comedians because I get so pissed when they ruin my experience with their douchebaggery.

  2. Philip Rosenbaum March 13, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    The whole thing immediately reminded me of a section of a Patton Oswalt album. Since it’s kind of long and I can’t just summarize it, I’ll just put the first link I can find about it.

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-10-most-satisfying-cases-hecklers-getting-destroyed_p2/

    It’s #2, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the “Woohoo” guy was the same guy as the “Say Something” guy.

    • Stacey March 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      Whoa, Phil and I are in weird heckler sync today!

  3. Stacey March 13, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    The whole incident reminded me of when Patton Oswalt had a guy yell “WOOOO!!” during a very solemn moment, which was recorded for posterity on his CD “Werewolves & Lollipops” (http://youtu.be/6ruDZ6qpa4E?t=5m57s) and he uttered the phrase that I will long take with me when these moments happen at wrestling events-

    “You stupid douchenozzle. You truly don’t fucking get it, do you? You poor motherfucker. You’re gonna miss everything cool and die angry.”

    • themandibleclaw March 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      Ha, I was totally thinking of that incident.

      The takeaway from this is clearly that all the cool kids love Patton Oswalt.

      • Philip Rosenbaum March 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

        Absolutely. I’m not sure why I was afraid that some folks might not be familiar with that bit. I love this site so much already, there’s so much more variety than a lot of people would expect with the main theme being pro graps. So damn good. I realize it doesn’t relate to the rest of my comment but I’m exploding with hearts toward the site.

  4. Ashley (@LilThunderLiz) March 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    A well-reasoned and thoughtful article. I was really bothered by that moment, too; the man’s friend had just died. A measure of respect was not an unreasonable expectation Even if the circumstances had been different, fans need to keep in mind that they’re spectators. They bought their tickets to be entertained, not to be the entertainment.

  5. uglybuttnono March 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Fans trying to get themselves over are the worst. This includes: smugly (and loudly) talking at the fans around you about how you know who the guy is under the mask, making long chants that have little to do with anything, arguing with kids about anything, chanting “booring”, etc…

    • Philip Rosenbaum March 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      I feel this is distinctly different from that. This guy wasn’t trying to get himself over, he was being a dick. Arguing with kids (when done in the proper manner) is just a part of the experience.

      I’m not arguing with you, both things are terrible, it’s just that this guy may be worse than fans trying to get themselves over.

    • Me: Internet Version (@Jo3yHuds) March 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      When it happened, my thought was exactly this, just a fan trying to get himself over and make his dumb buddies chuckle. I’m sure he spent the rest of the show on his cell, calling his friends to see if they “heard me on the TV”.

      A similar thing happened last week during Fandango’s refusal to wrestle when some jerk screamed “JOHNNY CURTIS” when ‘Dango told Justin Roberts to say his name again. Ugh, we get it, you know his real name.

      And it’s not really related, but last February at Raw in Minneapolis The Undertaker got “What” chanted at him. I only bring this up to say that I’ll never understand why people do what they do at live shows.

    • Brandon Stroud March 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      While I totally agree with you, I think “trying to get themselves over” has become too much of a catch-all for wrestling fan criticisms. Sorta like how “overrated” got really big a few years ago and became a synonym for “I don’t like this.”

      For example, I am a bit of a goofy loudmouth at ACW shows, but it’s never because I want people to look at me and laugh at me and think I’m great. It’s because I’m having a shitload of fun, and the fan/wrestler interaction is so strong. It’s a joyous thing, not a thing I’m doing because I wanna be a part of the show.

      The “boring” chants and “what” chants are really the worst. Arguing with kids is a blast if you do it happily, and not because you’re trying to be right. Just getting into it with passionate fans is fun, because most adults you’re sitting near are too worried about the intangibles of wrestling booking. A kid just wants his favorite to win because your guy “sucks.”

      • Philip Rosenbaum March 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

        Brandon as always saying what I was trying to say more eloquently.

      • Kevin Newburn (@KevinNewburn) March 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

        It almost feels like we’re talking about 3 different kinds of “fans”.

        A-holes who are just looking for attention but never learned the difference between good and bad attention in grade school

        Fans who are conditioned to be awful/sterotypical ‘rasslin fans. They seem to only have 3 settings. “boring” “what?” and “you’ve still got it”. Occasionally they also like to cheer “albert”

        Engaged fans that are looking for the interactive live show experience. Sometimes that’s with the wrestlers and sometimes that’s with the crowd. Either way they’re there to have fun with with people not at their expense.

        Wrestling has way to many of the first two and not enough of the 3rd.

        • Eamon Paton March 13, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

          Thats a good way to define it. I try my hardest and make the effort to be the third, and I think that’s whats important, to make the effort. Sometimes I’ll exhibit some of #2’s tendencies (minus the boring, what, you fucked up chants because those are just horrible), but fans should always be developing and progressing rather than as you put it, falling into the place of a stereotypical fan.

  6. jessepowellfishing March 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Hey man, good post. High five to you for good writing

  7. Bret G March 19, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    I missed that show but it sounds really gross. Thanks for writing about it and the surrounding issues.

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