I get ragged on quite a bit because of how far I go in defending Michael Cole week in and week out. For over a year, I’ve called Michael Cole the best active announcer in wrestling. For the last 6 months, I’ve called him the best heel in all of wrestling. And, for the last 4 weeks, he’s been in the highest rated professional wrestling segment on TV anywhere in the entire world.
His recent success and the ratings that he has brought in are no fluke. The guy is a great heel and people obviously hate him enough that they tune in to his segments in hopes that he’ll be brought down. These ratings are my vindication — my proof that Cole is all of the things that I’ve said he’s been for a year.
Simply put, I’m a self-proclaimed “Cole Miner.”
[adinserter block=”2″]But that self-proclaimed status is in serious jeopardy right now. That’s because Michael Cole screwed up big time, at the wrong time, and during a time where his actions require only one form of punishment; termination from World Wrestling Entertainment.
In case you missed it (http://wrestlechat.net/michael-cole-outrages-fans-by-using-homophobic-slur-picture-included), Michael Cole replied to a tweet by fellow announcer Josh Mathews by calling him a “faggot”. The tweet stayed up for roughly 45 minutes and was retweeted by over 1,700 different users. At 2:29PM EST, Cole took down the tweet and tweeted a rather ridiculous, seemingly insincere apology.
“I apologize to any and all who were offended by my tweet toward young Josh Mathews, “the apology began. “It was obviously not meant the way it was taken. I was not ordered to apologize I said I am sorry because I am. Now can I get back to being a character again please?”
Cole forgot about it and quickly changed the subject.
Make no mistake about it.
Joking or not, what Cole said is no laughing matter.
One must wonder how this situation would have been handled had it been done around the time that 18-year old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committed suicide in September 2010 after being bullied by his roommate. How much differently would the WWE have reacted if this took place during the campaign for Linda McMahon’s Senate run? What about if it was done around the time that TNA instilled their own anti-bullying campaign around the time that Orlando Jordan was beginning a controversial storyline that saw him playing an openly gay and risque wrestler ?
The timing of this tweet couldn’t possibly have come at a worse time for the WWE. It comes just days after the WWE announced a partnership with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) after receiving negative press due to multiple homophobic slang being used on WWE TV by The Rock and John Cena. This included Cena telling The Rock “blow me” and even making references about a “pearl necklace”.
When announcing this new partnership, WWE released the following statement: “WWE takes this issue very seriously, and has already spoken with our talent about these incidents. We are taking steps and working with GLAAD to ensure that our fans know that WWE is against bullying or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We strongly value our fans in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and apologize to them for these incidents.”
The WWE even invited GLAAD to conduct training sessions for their staff of writers, editors, and performers. Basically, a company-wide training session in addition to a new partnership was how the WWE would right this wrong. The WWE even agreed to film and air public service announcements about the negative effects of bullying.
Crisis Diverted. The WWE had taken two steps forward.
Michael Cole has now placed them about 10 steps back.
The WWE quickly came to the defense of Cole after his tweet, stating: “WWE has alerted GLAAD to the situation and spoken to Michael Cole about his post. He has removed it and apologized for using hateful language. Michael will be included in the training session being done by GLAAD. WWE takes this very seriously and is against discrimination of any kind based on sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or other.”
That can’t be it, can it? The WWE really is going to just make Michael Cole take part in the class that they had just days earlier stated that all of the employees would take part in anyway? So, in essence, Michael Cole received no punishment at all – he just needs to attend the meeting he was already told about? Really? A slap on the wrist?
This can’t happen if the WWE wants to maintain its PG image and protect its brand image. Remember, the WWE is doesn’t want to be known as a WRESTLING company. (http://wrestlechat.net/wwe-gets-offended-when-website-refers-to-them-as-a-wrestling-company) Remember last week when TVWeek.com referred to them as a “wrestling company” and WWE’s Public Relations department threw a fit, demanding that they change their headline?
The WWE’s reasoning?
“We are no longer a wrestling company but rather a global entertainment company with a movie studio, international licensing deals, publisher of three magazines, consumer good distributor and more.”
As big of a fan as I am of Michael Cole, I find it rather easy to declare today that the WWE has no alternative but to fire Michael Cole immediately. Will it happen? No. Maybe if this were at a different time of the year, it’d happen. But with Cole in one of the biggest angles that will culminate at their biggest event in just 7 days (WrestleMania 27), Cole isn’t going anywhere. It’s just not happening.
And that’s a shame.
Cole was joking. I get that. Was Cole purposely trying to insinuate that Mathews was gay? No. What happened here was nothing more than a joke gone sour and the obvious stupidity portrayed by a guy who is much more intelligent than that. Cole made an obvious mistake.
But at a time when homosexual people across the country are being slandered against every single second, and some even choosing suicide over dealing with the heart-wrenching pain, the WWE must step up in this situation and prove that this isn’t something that they’re going to simply let slide. Gay and lesbian people across the country are fighting daily battles for rights to marry, obtain benefits, and to receive the same rights as everyone else. Whether the WWE wants to admit it or not, it’s a safe bet to say that some percentage of their audience are homosexual. That should be enough reason right there to give Michael Cole his walking papers.
Furthermore, 68% of the WWE audience resides in the 14-32 age group. All it takes is for one of these teenage children to run to school and tell a classmate to “blow me”, joke about a “pearl necklace”, and call them a “faggot” while giving the “I saw it on WWE” excuse for this situation to take on a life of its own. What happens if this situation does/did take place and the victim goes on to harm him/herself? It’ll make national headlines…I guarantee it.
If the WWE thought the backlash that they received from the public after the Chris Benoit murder/suicide was bad, it wouldn’t come anywhere near as close to what they’d experience in the situation mentioned above.
With the said, how will you respond World Wrestling Entertainment?
[adinserter block=”1″]Here’s your chance to show your entire audience that your initial apology to the public and partnership with GLAAD was sincere. Here’s your chance to show the country that you take bullying of any type very seriously and absolutely do not condone it. Here’s your chance to make proactive headlines of your own and show the country that you’re more than just the “wrestling company” that everyone makes you out to be.
If you want to be a “global entertainment company” that has many loyal sponsors, magazine and distribution deals, and a true PG rating, act like it. The way to “act like it” in this situation is clear-cut and crystal clear.
And I quote…
Fire Michael Cole.
Brett Clendaniel is the owner and managing editor of http://www.WrestleChat.net.
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