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.