The following is a post by Alfonso, Castillo, a contributor for Newsday. Castillo, a long-time wrestling fan, columnist, and journalist, often reports his opinions on the industry through his blog on the Newsday website. The blog, often filled with information and thoughts unable, and sometimes unfit for publication, is one that is highly recommended. In a recent post, Castillo examines the nature of the wrestling business, the way the media follows it, and the comparison and difference in star power between wrestlers and some “celebrities”. A good read, and a good dose of truth.
What if the Media Cared About Wrestlers as Much as They Do Tiger?By: Alfonso Castillo
As Newsday’s official Tiger Woods scandal reporter, I haven’t had much time this week to drop by here. But I thought I’d check in with some Tiger-related reflections on pro wrestling.
As much as wrestlers and wrestling promoters frequently complain – and legitimately so – about the media’s elitist bias against pro wrestling, it’s times like these that they should thank their lucky stars for the stench and stigma that keeps most mainstream reporters at bay.
After keeping a mostly squeaky-clean public image for 15 years that he has been in the spotlight, Woods alleged "transgressions" have become the biggest national story of the past week. While Woods may be a unique case because of the lengths he has taken to keep his personal life private, and his image pristine – the fact is that alleged infedelity by most any A-list celebrity will typically become fodder for tabloid reports – especially in the age of the TMZ, Youtube and social networking.
Can you imagine if the mainstream media did even the slightest bit of digging into the lives of professional wrestlers? Although we’ve all become accustomed to the mainstream media pinching its collective nose at even the mention of pro wrestling, the reality is that, in many ways, John Cena and Rey Mysterio are far bigger celebrities that the "stars" whose personal lives dominate the tabloids.
Yahoo and Google recently released their lists of the most searched terms of the year, and "WWE" came in third, below just pop culture phenomenons "Michael Jackson" and "Twilight" and beating "Meghan Fox" and "Britney Spears."
As well, WWE’s Monday Night Raw consistently remains one of the most watched programs on cable television. For more anectdotal evidence, just watch John Cena arrive at an airport.
And yet, but for the odd personality whose fame transcends the boundaries of pro wrestling, such as Hulk Hogan, the mainstream media could not care less about what these immensely famous celebrities do in their personal lives.
Can you imagine what would happen if Derek Jeter, in a fit of road rage, got out of his car, reached into another vehicle, grabbed a motorist by the neck and kicked in his car?
Can you imagine if Brad Pitt left Angelina Jolie just after she survived a battle with cancer, and took up with a film co-star?
Can you imagine if police found boxes full of steroids and other illegal drugs in Derek Jeter’s home and arrested him for drug trafficking?
Can you imagine if Lebron James’ girlfriend attacked him with a knife as both sat down for dinner at a restaurant?
All of those stories played out over the last several years involving Ric Flair, Batista, Jeff Hardy, and Steve Austin, respectively. And while each got some small measure of publicity - mostly within the wrestling media - those stories were barely a blip on the radar compared to media onslaught we’ve seen with Tiger Woods over the last week.
And while wrestlers are probably grateful to not have their private lives examined as closely as those of of supposed "bigger" celebrities, there is something to be said for the accountability and responsibility that comes with public scrutiny.
Would Gregory Helms be Tweeting about getting smashed on the same night that his drinking buddy gets arrested for DWI if he thought it might make page one of New York Post the next night?
Would Jeff Hardy be so brazen as to pose for video cameras on the ashes of his former home if there was a chance some investigative reporters might do some digging as to why his house burned down to begin with?
One of the most important duties of journalists is to hold public figures accountable for their actions. And while that is of primary importance when dealing with public representatives and elected leaders, it is also important when dealing with role models to children.
If WWE wants a shelf to itself at Toys R’ Us and to slap that TV-PG logo on our TV screens, there’s a price all of its performers should have to pay in their personal lives. Unfortunately, very few of us are paying attention.