Megan Fox Too “Spicy” for Transformers?

 

A few weeks ago I caught a snippet from a Shia LaBeouf interview in the back pages of Famous, claiming that “Megan [Fox] developed this Spice Girl strength, this woman-empowerment [stuff] that made her feel awkward about her involvement with Michael [Bay] who some people think is a very lascivious filmmaker, the way he films women,” but wasn’t able to locate it again til this week.

Love her or hate her (personally, I lurrrrve her!), you’ve got to admire Fox for her outspokenness and, if that means, in this day and age, that she’s “Spice Girl”-esque, then so be it.

It’s kind of sad, actually, that to stand up to a cretinous misogynist and say “actually, no, I don’t want to be involved in a film where all my character does is lay about on a motorcycle while you direct the cameraman to get up-skirt shots of me” equates to being a caricature of pop-feminism from fifteen years ago.

I think LaBeouf was trying to remain loyal to both sides of the coin, but he has been critical of Transformers director Bay in the past. It’s just that he’s a guy and the star of the film, so they look the other way, whereas Fox is an apparently replaceable sex object who’ll never work in this town Hollywood again.

At least, that’s according to this week’s Famous, which has a somewhat-outdated story on Fox’s firing from the franchise, her replacement with Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and her allegedly anti-Semitic remarks against Bay. The article references a 2009 interview with Wonderland magazine, and an open anonymous letter posted on Bay’s website, which was written at least a year ago.

When talking about the release of the latest Transformers flick with a male friend, he said Fox was an idiot for trash-talking Bay and expecting not to get fired for it. (There is no evidence to suggest Fox did think that, FYI.) I wondered why Fox is the scapegoat to illustrate not biting the hand that feeds you in standing up for herself and refusing to be objectified in such a “way that appeals to a 16-year-old’s sexuality”, while Bay is lauded for his special effects and partnership with Steven Spielberg.  He said he didn’t care; having a car with a button that you could press which turns it into your very own gigantic friend was cooler. Right: who cares how horrible the people making movies are, as long as the end product is good fulfills some boyish childhood fantasy, right?

Related: The Beautiful, Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox.

“She Just Wants Attention.”

Gay Chicken: Latent Homophobia in “Why Would You Go Gay For?”

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

Minus Two & a Half Men.

Elsewhere: [IndieWire] Shia LaBeouf Claims Megan Fox’s “Spice Girl Strength” Got Her Fired From New Transformers Movie.

Image via Semaj Blogeater.

Does Pop Culture Glamourise Our Carbon Footprint?

Carbon tax. It’s got everyone in a tizzy, and has given Julia Gillard the lowest approval rating of any Prime Minister since Paul Keating. Oh Julia, you had so much potential… but that’s another blog post for another day.

What I want to write about here is the factors that have caused us to need a carbon tax, the front runner being popular culture!

I know, it seems like an odd thing to deduce, but hear me out.

On the nights when I get home from work or being out with friends and my housemate is home before me, oftentimes I’ll walk into the apartment to be greeted by every light in the place blaring, the heater and TV on, and I wonder why my housemate feels the need to make our home look like it belongs in a decor magazine or, at the very least, a television show. But if you’re looking to television and movies to guide your lifestyle, no wonder Australia (not to mention America, the beacon of all things consumerist and anti-environmental) is up shit creek without a paddle.

Look at any major mainstream TV show or movie staged in an affluent location: every single light is on, adding to the unrealistic “ambiance” of the place. Below are just a few screenshot examples:

Charmed.

The Ugly Truth.

Sex & the City.

Scream.

Also, inhabitants of houses/apartments/sheds/any building one can reside in onscreen have a penchant for leaving their blinds open. This is a pet hate of mine and one I’ll never understand. Not only does it practically invite psycho killers into your home (okay, I’ve been watching too much Scream), but in winter, it completely undoes all the good work of your trusty little heater. (I see this not only in movies and TV, but in real life, too. My friend Katrina recounted to me how she once saw her neighbour walking around topless in her bedroom without the blinds drawn!)

And hard-yakka Aussies wonder why they’re being asked to fork out for a carbon tax.

Girl with a Satchel Erica Bartle put it well when she wrote that we’re “not so hard up, are we?” when it came to light that “the average Aussie household now has multiple computers, wireless broadband internet, a Nintendo Wii or similar game console and a plasma TV”. Also, how much are the media contributing to our carbon footprint when they’re firing up the chopper to get aerial views of Cate Blanchett’s eco-mansion whilst condemining her for deigning to support the tax. (I read this on The Drum  or The Punch or one of those sites, but can’t seem to find the link, sorry.)

Can you think of any other TV shows and movies that perpetuate this lights on = glamour at the expense of practicality and our carbon footprint?

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] “Carbon Cate” for T Magazines & the Prius Effect.

Images via YouTube, IMDb, Film in America.

The Metatext of Hannah Montana.

 

From “Battle of the Bands: Fictional Musicians VS. Their Real-Life Counterparts” by Emily Temple on Flavorwire:

“… How meta is this whole [Hannah Montana] story? Miley Cyrus plays Miley Stewart who is secretly also Hannah Montana who the real Miley Cyrus basically becomes in real life, before she becomes Britney Spears? This is not new territory of course, but it just re-blew our minds.”

By the looks of the accompanying photo of Miley pole dancing, it looks like she already has become Britney. “Gimme More”, anyone?

Elsewhere: [Flavorwire] Battle of the Bands: Fictional Musicians VS. Their Real-Life Counterparts.

Image via Hip Hop Blog.

TV: My Response—Go Back to Where You Came From.

 

Last night marked the “where are they now?” special of SBS’s groundbreaking reality TV series social experiment, Go Back to Where You Came From, which aired over three emotional nights last week. The episode was called Go Back to Where You Came From: The Response, so I thought I’d offer my response to the show.

Firstly, I’d like to say that I thought it was one of the best things I’ve seen all year. Hell, I’ll even go as far as saying it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Given the opportunity, I would have loved to go along with Raye, Adam, Darren, Raquel, Gleny and Roderick to Malaysia, Jordan, Kenya, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Certainly, I would think twice about going to those countries on my own, but were the participants in any real danger with a camera crew and, I’m guessing, copious amounts of security around? My money’s on no.

While there has been a lot of criticism of Darren and Raquel, especially, and I was (and still am) one of those naysayers, a lot has to be said for the participants’ willingness to enter into the experiment; their willingness to let the experiment change their views.

I still think Raquel is a bit ignorant and sheltered, but I was really proud of her embracing an offer of friendship from a woman in a “teatowel” on the special last night. She said it right when she said “we all have hearts”, and witnessing what they did would be enough to soften even the hardest heart. Darren notwithstanding.

In fact, I think Raquel hit the nail on the head when she kept complaining throughout the journey that she’s an “Austraylyan” (is that the phonetic spelling for the bogan pronunciation of our country?), that she hasn’t been brought up like this, and—especially—that in the refugee camps, everyone was staring at her and she felt like she didn’t belong. I’m sure these are all feelings refugees have. We’re lucky enough to be raised in the “lucky country”, so to speak. Don’t you think we should extend some of those privileges to those not as lucky?

Another one of the participants I was really proud of was Adam, the Cronulla lifeguard. He certainly came into the program with a set of prejudices from his upbringing in the affluent beachside suburb and his involvement in the 2005 riots there, but I almost cried in the second episode when he sheepishly admitted that he would get on a boat: the very action that he’d been decrying from the beginning. I was happy he changed his mind because a face like that goes to waste on a person so right-wing!

Raye was another who had a marked turnaround. In most of her scenes I wept along with her, and it was great to see her spending time with the Masudi’s, the eldest child of which is coming to stay with her and her husband this weekend.

That leaves Gleny (yay!), Darren (boo!) and Roderick (meh!).

I felt that Roderick didn’t get much screen time and therefore we weren’t really clear on his motivations for going on the program, nor his beliefs. I wasn’t such a big fan of his Tony Abbott t-shirts but, as he said on last night’s special, he believes in the freedom of speech and religion, which is what the Liberal party stands stood for.

Gleny was super awesome and I applaud her efforts to more fully understand the plight of refugees and her offer to house some should it come to that. And if it comes to that, I would be there right alongside her. If people are complaining about people from other countries “infiltrating” the Aussie society and that they should “speak our language”, what better way to integrate them than to have them live with you? Next SBS “social experiment” right there!

Darren was someone I couldn’t really understand; to witness everything he did and the only result be downgrading his vilification of asylum seekers from “queue jumpers” to “system dodgers” is pretty cold-hearted. Especially seeing as his wife is Taiwanese, and could very well have been an asylum seeker if her circumstances were different. A lot of attention was drawn to his children, as well: would he put his family on a boat if it meant the possibility of a better, safer life for them? (The answer was no.)

One of the many things I found interesting was the different reactions from different participants when their views were challenged. Raye and Adam were quick to change their status on refugees and became the darlings of the show, somewhat. But Darren and Raquel, who had the furthest journeys to take in terms of changing their opinions, dealt with this with anger and frustration. The angrier they got, the more the audience could see just how uncomfortable they were with this. Again, as Raquel said, “we all have hearts”.

You’d have to be positively heartless for this show not to affect you. Most of the people I spoke to who watched it said they cried at some point each night. Them and me both. I just hope what eventuates from this show is a deeper understanding of the plight of asylum seekers, and a fire being lit under the government’s ass to make some actual change happen.

Elsewhere: [SBS] Go Back to Where You Came From.

Image via SBS.

TV: “What? A Woman Can’t Rescue a Man?”

 

“I’m still waiting for it to happen,” warlock Malcolm replies to Prue when she gets herself transported into a painting in the season two episode “The Painted World”.

“Yeah, well keep waiting, pal!” she replies.

You’ll be seeing a bit more about Charmed over the next few months as I work my way through the seasons.

Related: Witch Trial: Burning at the Stake on Charmed.

Image via YouTube.

Reality TV & Porn Stars Go Together Like “Peas & Carrots”.

From “The Reality TV/Porn Connection” by Tracie Egan Morrissey on Jezebel:

“By baring it all, be it emotionally or physically, both reality stars and porn stars have a certain vulnerability about them that’s relatively uncommon for Hollywood celebrities. Neither porn stars nor reality stars are removed; their brand of entertainment is the exact opposite. And this unabashed openness makes them more relatable than their mainstream counterparts; these stars are human. They’re sweaty. Their faces are animated. Their makeup gets smudged. Their hair gets fucked up. They’re not perfect, and they’re comfortable presenting that to the world.”

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] The Reality TV/Porn Connection.

Image via Celebabylon.

Feminism is an Ocean… Or Some Sh*t.

From Shit My Students Write:

“Feminism is an ocean. It’s large sea of ideals created a powerful current of changes in waves. The waves of feminism beat the status quo for women just as the ocean’s tide beats and erodes the ocean.”

(Thanks to April for the link.)

Elsewhere: [Shit My Students Write] Feminist Bodies (of Water).

Magazines: Katie Holmes in Who—Do Celeb Bodies Makes Us Feel Better About Our Own?

 

The first thing I noticed when I flipped open to the Katie Holmes story in the latest issue of Who were her stretchmarks. But I was really glad they weren’t pointed out to me: I’m not a fan of body-shaming (though, admittedly and ashamedly, I sometimes succumb to it).

But, looking at Katie’s faded stretchmarks on her taut and toned abs, it made me feel better about my own. (Also, it proves the naysayers wrong: Katie was pregnant with Suri; the Cruises didn’t order her in from some Scientology farm.)

Who, however, does do their fair share of scrutinising, comparing Katie’s current bikini body with her bloated stomach in a shoe store in early May.

As I said above, I don’t like to see others’ bodily “shortcomings” pointed out to me; I’m perfectly capable of noticing them myself, and promptly ignoring them. My own bodily “shortcomings”? It’s touch and go.

The one thing I dislike about myself is my skin. It’s very susceptible to scarring and marking, and my acne scars, stretchmarks, spider veins and cellulite will attest to that. Bad skin runs in my family. But, after several years of struggling with my skin, especially on my upper legs and face, I’ve come to terms with it. You hide the areas you’re not a fan of and flaunt your best assets. I’ve embraced the ’50s silhouette in summer, and mostly wear A-line skirts that end just at the knee or mid-calf. For my money, I think I look better in clothes than I do out of them.

However, I think the only way you can become comfortable with your body is to walk around in your underwear. Or better yet, naked. Frequently. I do this all the time, and I love my body more for it. It helps you understand what you look like in all your glory, and better revel in yourself when it comes time to get naked with someone new. I can’t recommend this enough.

But back to celeb bodies. One the one hand, it would be a horrible thing to be subjected to as a person in the public eye. You would have to have a very thick (yet supple, and wrinkle/scar/pimple free, and perfectly tanned, and…) skin to deal with the scrutiny of celebrity life. But on the other hand, in this day and age, people don’t get into music/TV/film without being well aware what they’ll be subjected to. It’s not fair, but it’s a fact.

And the celebs who are open about their body struggles—Kate Winslet and her weight woes, Khloe Kardashian’s inadequacy when compared to her sisters—or even just celebs who refuse to conform to the skinny-mini stereotype—Kate Winslet (again), Pink and her baby body on the beach—give us someone to hold up as a beacon of hope when we don’t all look like the one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter mould.

While Katie still looks slim in her beach holiday photos (attention is drawn to her protruding—and, in one case, inverted—shoulder blades), her stretchmarks are what I’m looking at. And they look beautiful.

Related: Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

My Name’s Scarlett, And I’m a Fat-Shamer.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Who Condemns Baby-Body Bullying…

The Hills Have (Dead) Eyes.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] These Are the Un-Retouched, Un-Fake Breasts of a 33-Year-Old Woman Who Has Breast Fed Two Babies. God Bless You Kate Winslet.

[MamaMia] What a Human Body Looks Like After a Baby.

Chris Benoit Double Murder–Suicide: Four Years On.

A few months ago, I blogged about the disgrace of Charlie Sheen and John Galliano, and how Two & a Half Men  and Christian Dior were right to fire the men and disassociate their brands from them.

In that post, I also wrote about professional wrestler Chris Benoit who, four years ago today, committed a double murder–suicide, strangling his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old son using chokeholds, then killing himself using a weight machine.

At the time, the mainstream media had a field day with the tragedy, especially when it was speculated that steroids and their side-effects—specifically ’roid rage—played a role. Outspoken, right-winged commentators like Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly had no shortage of perspectives on the case, and used “expert” witnesses (some credible, like fellow World Wrestling Entertainment stars John Cena, Chris Jericho, and Bret Hart, and some not-so-credible, like former WWE wrestlers Marc Mero and Steve Blackman, who both had axes to grind with the company) and opinions to bolster their arguments that pro-wrestling is nothing but a homoerotic display of extreme violence and degradation of all that is good and right in American culture by a bunch of ’roided-up, “fake” performers.

Books such as Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror that Destroyed a Family & Crippled a Sport  by Steven Johnson, Heath McCoy, Irv Muchnick and Greg Oliver and Matthew Randazzo V’s Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit & the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry have examined that case and divided fans on the topic.

When I originally wrote the article below for a university paper, then subsequently re-edited it for a wrestling website, I struggled to reconcile the “family man” and 20-year pro wrestling veteran that fans and co-workers loved, with the monster who orchestrated a horror weekend involving domestic violence and obvious mental illness on Benoit’s part.

I have to admit I’m still biased, and still don’t feel as badly about Benoit as I should and do feel about someone like Charlie Sheen. As I wrote in “Minus Two & a Half Men:

“On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives…, sullied the reputation of professional wrestling and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today…

“Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.”

So, without further ado, here is a version of the article I mentioned above, originally written in 2008, with regular edits thereafter. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Over the weekend of 23rd and 24th June, 2007, the world of professional wrestling was rocked by the double murder-suicide involving World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar Chris Benoit, his wife and seven-year-old son.

Benoit was scheduled to appear at a WWE pay-per-view on the night of Sunday, 24th June, but had to return home abruptly a few days earlier, claiming that his wife, Nancy, and son, Daniel, had food poisoning. Suspicions arose when Benoit sent five odd text messages to co-workers and friends, repeatedly stating his “physical address”, which door to his suburban home was unlocked, and where his dogs were tied up. When repeated phone calls from the WWE went unanswered, and inquiries into local hospitals in the Atlanta, Georgia, area proved fruitless, WWE contacted authorities, who had a neighbour search the home, finding the bodies of Nancy, 43, and Daniel, 7. The body of Benoit, 40, was found hanging from a weight machine in his home gym.

At first it was thought the gruesome body count was the result of a triple-murder, and WWE ran a special three-hour tribute edition of their flagship show Raw, dedicated to the memory of Benoit. However, about 26 hours later news broke that it was actually Benoit who killed his family and himself. All mentions of his name were banned from WWE programming, and repeats of the tribute show were cancelled in international markets.

Doug Frattallone, a television producer, reporter and anchor, and author of the “Professor Wrestling” column on The Pittsburgh Channel website, says, “If there’s police tape around the home of one of your employees—and your employee and his family is inside, deceased—that might be a signal that there’s foul play. It’s certainly not the time to immortalise someone [with a tribute show]”.

The media, particularly in the US, had a field day with this story as more aspects of the crime came to light. Bad press has surrounded sports entertainment pretty much since its inception, and has only increased as the juggernaut that is WWE becomes more popular on a global scale. For example, when the Chris Benoit tragedy was revealed, US news programs, such as FOX’s controversial OReily Factor, were quick to point out that four prominent professional wrestlers had died since the book Wrestling Babylon by Irv Muchnick was published in 2007, adding to the industry’s negative profile. In the tome, Muchnick reveals 2002 and 2006 studies that focused on the premature deaths of 62 power lifters and 3, 850 National Football League (NFL) players respectively, and how the bigger men and men suspected of using steroids died at rates much higher than their non-drug-using counterparts. These findings lend themselves to the theory that Benoit committed his crimes while experiencing “’roid rage”, which I will return to later. But, Muchnick says, little attention has been paid to “the mortality rate of pro wrestlers…” because “…they’re just, you know, wrestlers”, and “are not actual human beings”.

Although not a wrestling fan at the time of Owen Hart’s death, a fatal accident that occurred during a pay-per-view where Hart was involved in an entrance via a cable from the rafters, I can only imagine the bad press generated at that time. And at the end of 2005, Eddie Guerrero, a second-generation wrestler and one of Benoit’s best friends, died of heart failure resulting from heavy drug use earlier in the wrestler’s life. This death didn’t cause as much controversy as Hart’s and Benoit’s (The Los Angeles Times newspaper dedicated almost ninety times as much info on Benoit as it did on Guerrero’s death), however there was some debate over drug use in sports entertainment once the toxicology report was released. WWE have overhauled their Wellness Policy, in which wrestlers are monitored on and penalised for drug use more stringently.

Kevin McElvaney, Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine and WrestleZone.com columnist, shares his thoughts on the Wellness Policy:

“Chris Benoit was obviously either allowed to ‘slip through the cracks’ or somehow circumvent the Wellness Policy through a loophole or with a cheating device… There was a recent change implemented in the Wellness Policy which addresses the possibility of cheating in urine tests. Wrestlers must now lift their shirts and pull their pants down to their knees while giving urine samples, while a representative of the testing team observes. Some people were probably using urine filtration devices to produce clean samples, and it’s possible that Chris Benoit did the same thing… One problem with the… policy—at least as of June 2007—was that doctors notes excused plenty of drug abuses that would otherwise have been punished…”

Fellow WrestleZone.com reporter Keelan Balderson echoes McElvaney’s concerns on the legitimacy of the program:

“…There are a few major loopholes that wouldn’t be allowed in the Olympics, for example… If you have a legitimate doctor’s prescription for a substance… it’s allowed to slide”.

Benoit had a doctor’s prescription, from the corrupt Dr. Philip Astin, who was charged with 175 counts of illegally prescribing drugs to Benoit and others, and has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

When reading the many farewell messages on the websites of Benoit’s peers and fellow wrestlers at the time the news broke, it’s clear he and his family’s deaths were hard to fathom. Former WWE Champion and current commentator for the SmackDown! Brand, Booker T, said on Houston, Texas, news program KHOU:

“I feel like the human life is a delicate piece of equipment and everyone has their breaking point. We don’t know what his breaking point was… We’re all human. I just think it was a huge malfunction and whatever it was, we may never know”.

Controversial former WWE Superstar Bret Hart, brother of the late Owen Hart, was interviewed extensively in the wake of the tragedy, saying Benoit was a locker-room leader and never expressed any signs that could have signified the events that occurred. “It knocked you off your feet the second you heard it…”, Hart said, “I can’t imagine Chris killing his son…”. In fact, Hart revealed that as a child, Benoit “reminded me of my own little son…”

Rob Van Dam, a former WWE Superstar who is known for being outspoken, holds Benoit in the highest esteem:

“Chris was truly a role model’s role model. You simply had to respect him and admire his focus and unmatched discipline. If I ever got asked a question about who I looked up to the most in the business… it’s Chris Benoit—in the ring and in the dressing room and with his family”.

However, there are others who view Benoit’s actions as unthinkable. Former WWE Diva Victoria, who chose to vent her feelings on MySpace, said the murder-suicide was “selfish” and “hurtful”, fearing that the high profile of Benoit “glamorises the situation”.

And of course there’s the official statements from WWE and Vince McMahon (whose WWE character and alter-ego “Mr. McMahon” was involved in a murder angle in the weeks leading up to Benoit’s death, which was immediately abolished in light of the tragedy) who appeared on US morning show Today, and his wife and WWE CEO Linda McMahon on Good Morning America. In Vince’s interview, he said that Benoit doesn’t represent what the WWE is about (although when he was alive, many people in the company, wrestling insiders and wrestling fans would say that Benoit was exactly what the WWE was about, or should be about), and that there was “no way of telling that this man was a monster”.

The WWE knows how smart their fans are in terms of knowing what goes on outside the ring, so why not incorporate some of that into the product? Chris Benoit will never be mentioned on or in WWE programming and publications again. However, to my knowledge Benoit has been mentioned twice on WWE programming since his demise [up to May 2008]: once in an onscreen address from Chairman McMahon the night after the Raw tribute show aired, saying that references to their disgraced employee will cease immediately, and during Ric Flair’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech (which has been edited out of the forthcoming WrestleMania XXIV DVD, on which the ceremony is a bonus feature). Due to the sensitive nature of the crimes it’s obvious why they haven’t been used to bolster the product.

Many are wondering what drove Benoit to murder his wife and child and take his own life over the span of three days. (Nancy was killed on Friday 22nd June, Daniel on Saturday 23rd June and finally, Benoit on Sunday 24th June, according to medical reports.) Much speculation revolved around “’roid rage”; violence stemming from the use of steroids. However, the rage usually only occurs for a few minutes after taking the drug, and with the murders taking place over three days, ’roid rage seems unlikely. Balderson says, “…There have been no studies that prove it even exists and on top of this there was method in Benoit’s actions—you can’t kill your wife, son and yourself in one quick burst of rage”. Heath McCoy, writing in Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror that Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport, agrees: “… there was much about the incident that indicated deliberation, not rage”. Contributing doctors on the case revealed that withdrawal from steroids does cause bouts of severe depression, fatigue and mood swings, which seems a more likely scenario. But the abundance of steroids found in Benoit’s possession (Dr. Astin provided the wrestler with ten months worth of steroids every few weeks), isn’t evidence to support withdrawals. Though, “to be safe, I think steroids should be treated as the cause of the problem, but so should concussions, mental health, and personal problems,” says McElvaney.

The factors in Benoit’s life mentioned above may have contributed to the tragedy. Benoit suffered a broken neck eleven years ago, and if he was still feeling the effects of the injury, it could have impacted tremendously on his emotional and physical wellbeing. The travelling involved with being a WWE Superstar results in being away from home for long periods of time, which can take a toll on personal relationships. Reports surfaced that Benoit and his wife Nancy fought constantly for the wellbeing of Daniel who, it was alleged, had Fragile X syndrome, a form of inherited developmental delay that can be accompanied by growth problems (Benoit had apparently been injecting his son with Human Growth Hormone [HGH] in an attempt to counteract that) and autism. Benoit may have transferred his paranoia about his own size onto his son. It took the wrestler years to break into the mainstream American market because he was “such a small man”. Bret Hart says when he met Benoit as a teen, he “remembers him looking closer to nine or ten”. Balderson explains:

“I think all smaller wrestlers deep down feel that they need to be bigger to make it [in the WWE] because that’s how Vince [McMahon] likes it… Vince continues to push wrestlers… because of their size [as opposed to actual wrestling talent], so there is an ideology that to make it in this industry you have to be big, or at least ripped for your size.”

Which Benoit was. McElvaney goes on:

“…Chris was self-conscious about his own size and, apparently, insecure about Daniel’s size. The latter is completely unjustifiable, to me. I think the fact that Chris Benoit injected his son with HGH affects my opinion of him far more than the fact that he, himself, used steroids.”

Daniel’s condition had been pretty well concealed, as McMahon, Benoit’s closest friends, and even Nancy’s parents were not aware of it (they deny that their grandson suffered from Fragile X). As stated earlier, grief over the death of friend Eddie Guerrero may have been a contributing factor to the killings, or at least Benoit’s state of mind. Greg Oliver, another author of the book Benoit, was in contact with the wrestler at the time of Guerrero’s death:

“‘… I do not believe that I will ever find someone that I will bond with and be able to understand and be understood as I was with Eddie… My wife Nancy bought me a diary and I have started to write letters to Eddie…’”

Said diary was not found by the authorities.

Also, it surfaced that Nancy filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order against her husband in 2003, signaling that perhaps domestic violence was an occurrence in the marriage. (The divorce petition and restraining order were later dropped.) It had also been speculated that Benoit was to be demoted in the WWE. Just weeks before the tragedy, it was reported on many wrestling news websites (not WWE.com) that the WWE creative team didn’t feel Benoit had a strong enough on-screen persona or microphone skills to be a top Superstar or champion. However, the pay-per-view that Benoit missed the Sunday that he died was the day that he would once again be a World Champion. Chris Jericho weighed in on this at the time on Nancy Grace:

“… He was about to become the ECW Champion… ECW is more with some younger guys that are just learning, and Chris was a great trainer and so well respected, they wanted him to be kind of more of a trainer to some of these younger guys… So to move Chris to ECW, Chris would not see that as a demotion”.

His other stint as World Heavyweight Champion was at WrestleMania 20 in 2004, where Daniel and Nancy came into the ring to celebrate with Benoit. “… A hundred years from now, at WrestleMania 120, they’ll look back and see [that] Chris Benoit made Triple H tap out at Madison Square Garden…”, Benoit has said. No, they won’t. McCoy believes what Benoit did “to drag it [wrestling] down and scandalise it in the eyes of the public would have shamed [Benoit] to the core”.

Once again, WWE’s decision to pull all mentions of Chris Benoit from their product was the socially responsible and ethical thing to do. “Future generations will never know what a great performer he was, and that’s a shame,” says Oliver. “He epitomised what professional wrestling could and should be: hard-hitting, dramatic, serious action between high-calibre, exciting athletes”.

“We can… never forget or forgive these horrible acts… And that overshadows everything else in his life. But you can’t tell the story of pro wrestling without talking about Chris Benoit,” says Jericho.

Much like you can’t tell the story of the history of the world without taking the bad with the good. And, if turning on the nightly news is anything to go by, there’s still a lot of bad.

*

Three years after I wrote this article (with some edits I made just now), my feelings have changed somewhat. But if reading the copious amounts of literature on the subject of Benoit and questionable behaviour in sports entertainment (some of which I’ve mentioned here and, if you have any interest in this topic whatsoever, I advise you pick up. Perhaps I could even lend you a copy ;)), professional wrestling companies aren’t completely innocent in all this. One of the sections I edited out of the piece for publication on The Scarlett Woman was about wrestling legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka who, in 1983 after a domestic violence incident, was suspected of murdering his girlfriend. Yet he still appears frequently on WWE television as one of the greatest high-flying wrestlers of all time. I guess it goes to show that domestic violence, drug use and all manner of other crimes are passable in the entertainment industry (sorry to bring his name up again, but Charlie Sheen comes to mind), just as long as you’re not found guilty of murder. Then you’re really done for.

Related: Minus Two & a Half Men.

Elsewhere: [WTAE Pittsburgh’s Channel 4] Homepage.

[WrestleZone] Homepage.

[MySpace] TNA Knockout Tara AKA WWE Victoria (TNA Knockout Tara)’s Page.

Image via Who’s Dated Who.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

If you didn’t get a chance to catch Go Back to Where You Came From on SBS last night, Wednesday or Tuesday night’s, check it out on the website. Do yourself a favour: it really is eye-opening stuff, whichever side of the asylum-seeking fence you sit on (and you’d better be on the right one, dammit!). And here’s MamaMia’s Rick Morton’s take on the show.

Also at MamaMia, “The Weiner Photos”.

Who is Coco?

“The ‘Scary Dad’ Phenomenon.”

It’s a year today since Julia Gillard took over as Prime Minister of Australia.

According to Dilbert creator Scott Adams, men are square pegs in round, vagina-shaped holes. Consent or no.

The Angelina–Louis Vuitton–Cambodia debacle.

Gala Darling on body image and beauty in style blogging:

“… Whoever these girls are that we choose to compare ourselves to, they’re just living their lives—and honestly, if that makes us feel bad about OURselves, it is OUR issue.”

Well said, girlfriend!

Forget Women in Refrigerators. “Dead Men Defrosting.”

“Likes Girls”? Dianna Agron on equality.

Born this way, or pray the gay away? Jezebel, via Autostraddle.

“Liberals tend… to believe that the more socially liberal actions (deciding to make less money and help others) were when people were being true to themselves, and conservatives tend… to believe that socially conservative actions (renouncing homosexuality) were more authentic. So! That solves the case, no? Everyone thinks they’re right, in philosophy as everywhere else in the world.

“Maybe that’s true; maybe what matters are our opinions more than our choices or our biology.”

Freeman-Sheldon sufferer Jes Sachse and photographer Holly Norris challenge the hipster-sexy American Apparel ads with their own “American Able” series of images.

–Phobia and –Isms in Glee.

Now this is how you write an anti-SlutWalk article.

“Why I Walked the SlutWalk.”

Still with the SlutWalk, this time from a man’s perspective.

Girl with a Satchel on Bridesmaids, feminism, taste and “public v private appropriateness”.

Images via West Coast Show, Fell Down the Rabbit Hole, MamaMia.