ROCK & WRESTLING: SAME ENEMY, SAME FIGHT!

by: John Woods
Co-Founder: Rock Out Censorship
roc-hq@theroc.org

(ROC-News Service) Every Monday night between 9pm and 11pm, there I sit with remote in hand flipping back and forth between TNT and USA networks. Yes I admit it, I am a pro-wrestling junkie. I have to get my Monday night fix of WCW Nitro and WWF Raw is War. And then on Friday it's ECW.

For the past eleven years I have fought some hard battles with this organization I helped form called Rock Out Censorship. We have stood up against and been a definite pain in the ass for some of the groups and organizations who have been attempting to ban, restrict and outright censor rock, rap and metal music.

I was outraged to find that some of our old adversaries from the music wars were now setting their sights on professional wrestling. Spearheading the move to have wrestling censored on TV is the Parents Television Council (PTC), headed by the well known enemy of free speech and expression Brent "Bozo" Bozell. We all remember this yuck as he appeared on Crossfire and other yap-shows back in the early days of the music wars fanning the flames for the PMRC and other self-proclaimed moralist groups.

But what really convinced me that the movement against the censoring of wrestling was one that ROC had to get behind and support happened when I took a look at some of the folks who sit on the PTC's Advisory Board. Hey all you battle weary troops of the music wars, do any of these names ring a bell? Senator Sam Brownback (R) Kansas, Senator Joe Liebermann (D) Connecticut, and, are you really ready for this one, C. Delores Tucker.

For those of you who may not know, both Brownback and Liebermann chaired hearings in Washington where further attempts to restrict popular music were schemed. And C. Delores Tucker has been stomping around from state to state for years with her anti-rap rant. Boy what a cast of characters we have here. All that is needed to make these bedfellows a real happy bunch is William Bennett and Tipper Gore.

We at ROC see the struggle against the attempts to censor pro- wrestling and the struggle that we have carried on against the same attempts made against rock, rap, metal and other genres of music as one in the same. It's a "same enemies, same fight" situation. Here's what Fritz Capp, the founder of Wrestling Fans Against Censorship had to say about the issue:

"In a world where everyone is looking to blame someone else for their own or society's short-comings, pro-wrestling is one of their favorite scapegoats. Along with the rock genre in music, pro wrestling is blamed for more ills in the world than anything else.

When was the last time you heard that the evening news was blamed for a schoolyard shooting, when it is the news that spread the word that these type of things happen, often depicted with graphic images, thus planting the ideas in other misinformed, maladjusted people? In my opinion, both rock, along with other forms of music, as well as professional wrestling, get their ideas for songs or storylines from what is going on around them, not vice versa. I guess the people that are the most vocal against these genres of entertainment are too short sighted to see that though. They would sooner place blame on others than admit their own failures." (Fritz Capp, "Straight Shooting: Why Is Pro-Wrestling Being Singled Out?" IGN Wrestling, June 5, 2000). http://wrestling.ign.com/news/20421.html

To give some background on the tactics used by the PTC in their attempts to bully WWF and Smackdown sponsors from withdrawing their ads from WWF events, I give you excerpts from the following article titled: "WHY IS THE COUNCIL THAT'S TRYING TO DESTROY THE WWF ALSO PROFITING FROM THEM? This piece was penned by Galatea at IGN Wrestling. It not only shows how the PTC has redesigned the "go after the sponsors" tactics that was used and abused for years by Don Wildmon and his American Family Association, but also details how the PTC being the hypocrites they are, are on the one hand condemning the WWF while with the other hand they are raking in profits from the sales of WWF merchandise. While we acknowledge that they do have the right to voice their opinions and to pressure show sponsors, we feel it's important to counter the would-be censors at every turn, exposing and fighting against every tactic they use to achieve their goal of ridding society of that which they personally find distasteful. This time they have been caught in an example of holier-than-thou hypocrisy at it's finest.

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Excerpts from:
"WHY IS THE COUNCIL THAT'S TRYING TO DESTROY THE WWF ALSO PROFITING FROM THEM?
by: Galatea, IGN WRESTLING

It's 8pm, and do you know what your kids are watching? Well, do you? Most likely, they're being influenced by the rap industry, Hollywood, and Chuck Norris. Who should be held responsible for violence and crude behaviour in our society?

The Parents Television Council!

In a June 15th press release, the Parents Television Council announced that they had gained a victory over MCI Worldcom, one of the largest telephone companies in the world. MCI pulled its support of the WWF programming in response to the PTC's threats to "...mount an aggressive, nation-wide educational campaign to inform Americans that MCI Worldcom shares WWF Smackdown's offensive values." Gee, what a valiant and noble step in protecting the youth of America!

MCI isn't the only company the PTC has gone after since deciding that the WWF is the root of all society's ills. With its "more than 500,000 members" in tow, the PTC has used these same scare tactics on other large companies as well. Big corporations such as Coca Cola, General Motors and McDonalds have all been bullied by the PTC into pulling their support from the WWF, in an effort to prevent them from making money off what they would have you believe Vince McMahon's dirty little wrestling federation.

What makes the WWF society's greatest bastion of bad influence today? When stating their case, the PTC mentions the deaths of 4 children, which they claim are directly linked to professional wrestling. The problem is, the "connection" between the WWF and these deaths is weak at best, and in all cases the governing problem was a lack of parental supervision, not the television set that has apparently become America's babysitter. As I stated in a previous editorial, the parents and guardians who are responsible for storing matches and household poisons out of reach of their children are the very same that are responsible for monitoring their children's viewing habits. How many times has the death of a 14 month - 6 years old child been blamed with starting a fire or swallowing Windex when their parents weren't watching?

After they're done with the WWF, are the PTC going to go after the companies which provide products under the "Mr. Yuck" banner? Just where do they draw the line?

PTC Honorary National Chairman Steve Allen has become the poster boy against the "violent and vulgar program marketed weekly to over three million children" which is otherwise known as WWF Smackdown. The legendary actor and comedian has vowed to eliminate the evil WWF Smackdown from Americans' air waves.

So what makes his involvement in this crusade so hypocritical?

I wonder if there's any chance Allen will return that fat check McMahon gave him for his appearance at the Wrestlemania VI in 1990? It's also worth noting that Steve Allen appeared in the movie "Casino," which is one of the most violent and emotionally disturbing movies you'll see. While this movie carries an "R" rating, the PTC's entire point is that parents are not monitoring what their children watch in the first place! How easy do you think it would be for a kid under the age of 18 to get his hands on a copy of "Casino," between HBO and their parents' home-video library?

Popular Hollywood actress Sharon Stone deservedly won a Golden Globe Award for best actress in a drama for her role in the film. Like most movie fans, many seek out a copy of award winning performances to add to their collection. How many parents out there do you think have a copy of "Casino" in their video library? If Mom and/or Dad can't sit down with their kids at 8pm on a Thursday night and stop them from watching Smackdown, how can they possibly stop them from watching a violent, shot-um-up, foul language laden, sexually explicit, blood spilling flick like "Casino"? Maybe the PTC is waiting until they're done with the WWF, before they take on Hollywood, or to have a talk with ol' Steve Allen himself about his involvement in the film.

Moving onto the Parents Television Council itself, they have their own ties to, believe it or not, "sexual explicit material," by their own definition.

Quoted from the PTC website:

"...Every time you make a purchase in our marketplace, a percentage of the sale goes directly to the Parents Television Council. It's that simple and it doesn't cost you anything extra. Now, knowing your purchase in our marketplace will help support a commitment to bring responsibility to the entertainment industry."

By doing a simple search on the PTC Marketplace for WWF items, you will find a massive 13 page list of WWF merchandise readily available to purchase from a PTC sponsor Toys R Us. And as it states on their site, "a percentage of the sale goes directly to the Parents Television Council."

In other words, the same PTC that is debasing the WWF's advertisers for profiting from the WWF's "filth," are themselves profiting from the WWF's popularity. Oh, the irony.

Try the search out for yourself. Go to the ParentsTV.org website, and click on "Marketplace." From there, click under "Kids and Family," something the PTC has sworn to protect. It is from this page that you can purchase tons of WWF stuff from Toys R Us. (You can also do a product search, by typing "WWF.")

At the end of the day, the PTC is far from what it claims to be; a body caring about the youth of America's television habits. When they're done making money off the same companies they're trying to hurt like the WWF, and totally overlooking the equally offensive behaviour from other companies they're too afraid to tackle, all they are is a group of bitter hypocrites. They may get more publicity by taking on the WWF, but are their campaigns really doing anything for the youth of America? Is the WWF being targeted because they are legitimately the most damaging form of entertainment on television today? Or are they just an easy target?

To twist a quote from the PTC poster boy of hypocrisy, Steve Allen:

Until the PTC spend as much time advising parents on how to properly guide their children as they do fighting a select few "evils" in the world, we are doomed, for the evil of misplaced accountability is so powerful. (Credit to Galatea, IGN WRESTLING)

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After the news about the PTC profiting from companies selling WWF merchandise broke in the wrestling press and was posted on several wrestling message and chat boards, the PTC was flooded with hundreds and hundreds of e-mails from wrestling fans from all over the world denouncing their hypocrisy. In an attempt to deflect the heat they were getting, the sites of Toys 'R' Us, Buy.Com and International Collectors Society (all who offered WWF merchandise) suddenly disappeared from the PTC Marketplace site. We now demand that the PTC immediately answer the questions raised in ROC's Open Letter concerning the disappearance of these sites. We have encouraged wrestling fans, the wrestling press and the mainstream press to also press the issue over and over until we know if the PTC is continuing to make a ton of dough from a organization they claim they want to destroy.

R.O.C. sez, "Layeth The Smacketh Down On All The Censors!"



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