Monday on WWE RAW, The Miz made his claim that he “took out” R-Truth and John Morrison when he brutally beat both men out of the company for varying lengths of time (30 days for Truth, for the foreseeable future for Morrison). Standing across from the ring was CM Punk, who retorted that the way Miz was dressed and with the faux-hawk he had in his hair that he must have “took them out” to see the new Twilight movie, adding at the end the classic Seinfeld quote “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
A lot of people had a good laugh, because hey, who doesn’t enjoy a good amount of homophobic ball-busting when among friends? There were two problems here. One was that Punk and Miz aren’t friends in character, and two, this was in front of a live worldwide audience of thousands in the arena and millions on television.
[ad 6]Let’s forget the fact that continually making those kinds of insinuations, not that Twilight is gay (although really, I’m not even sure the homosexual community even wants to claim Stephanie Meyer’s saccharine allegory for abstinence unintentionally drenched in self-loathing misogyny), but that being gay is something that’s bad, are something that totally would get WWE in trouble with advocacy groups. They’ve gotten stung twice before with groups coming down on them for John Cena’s homophobic comments in character before WrestleMania and Michael Cole calling Josh Mathews a “faggot” on Twitter. It’s stupidity, but it’s not the worst thing about this.
No, the worst thing about all this is that Punk is supposed to be the agent for change. Since dropping his first pipebomb in June, Punk has talked about changing the game, making wrestling fun again and doing things that other people on top weren’t doing. Well, the homophobic language? That doesn’t change the game.
Wrestling has been one of the most super macho forms of entertainment, not just for the people inside of it, but for the fans as well. Perpetrating this myth that people need to be ashamed if they’re gay is not making positive change; it’s stagnation at its worst. Furthermore, he’s not making wrestling fun for the thousands (millions?) of gay wrestling fans out there who don’t want to be made to feel like they have to hide who they really are in order to out themselves as WWE fans.
The biggest insult of them all is that Punk is part of this Be a Star campaign, where he urges the kids at home not to pick on people because they’re different. Meanwhile, he’s on WWE TV picking on The Miz because he thinks he’s different. Where’s the internal logic? Obviously, one would have to separate in character name-calling from real life stuff, but at the same time, Punk and Miz can talk crap to each other without resorting to the kinds of things that this Be a Star campaign is against.
Punk could have gone after Miz for having terrible fashion sense without the implication that it was “gay”. He could have gone after him for being a coward or for not having anything relevant to say. There are ways to build heat without resorting to demonizing homosexuality. Add that to the fact that nowhere in entertainment or sport is the line between in and out of character blurred like wrestling’s is (even in this age of diminished kayfabe, it’s still real to more people than it’s not, dammit).
[adinserter block=”1″]In an age where wrestling has to compete with so many different forms of attention-span consuming activities in both the sport and entertainment arenas, they can’t afford to be exclusionary. Making gay people feel alienated in 2012 is just reprehensible. Punk of all people should know this since he’s one of the most progressive thinkers on the roster. He should be savvy enough to be able to appeal to the meatheads in the crowd without pushing away those who’d be pretty hurt to have to see him paint an entire sexual orientation as bad to get heat on a guy he was feuding with. He should be better than that. He has to be better than that, or else he’s no better than the guy that he’s claiming to be replacing in Cena.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.