Over the weekend an eight-year-old recording of your childhood hero Hulk Hogan using racist epithets directed towards a black man his daughter was allegedly dating at the time surfaced. World Wrestling Entertainment was quick to sever ties with Hogan, terminating his contract (yes, he still worked there!) and deleting his presence from their website.
While this by no means rids WWE, and the wrestling world at large, of their inherent racism, they should be commended for taking such drastic measures against arguably their most famous star at a time when famous men are still protected despite their wrongdoings.
A few years ago, I wrote about the challenge of rectifying my feminism with my wrestling fandom:
“[W]restling is one of the most obviously racist modes of mainstream entertainment. Let me count just some of the racial stereotypes throughout wrestling history that come to mind: The Iron Sheik was pitted against such all-American opponents as Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter during the height of the Iranian hostage crisis and the Gulf War; the Mexicools’ ring entrance comprised the use of a ride-on lawnmower, insinuating that people of Mexican descent make excellent yard workers; African American wrestler Charles Wright went from one black trope—a witch doctor named Papa Shango—to another—The Godfather, a pimp who came to the ring followed by his ‘Ho Train'; the Boogeyman was another witch-doctor-esque character played by another African American wrestler, Marty Wright (of no relation to Charles Wright); Native American wrestler Tatanka got around in traditional Native garb, such as headdresses and warpaint and carried a tomahawk; Kofi Kingston is from the Republic of Ghana, but somehow a Jamaican gimmick for his character made more sense; we all know people of African American descent are probably criminals, so why not bring two black wrestlers together in a tag team and call them Cryme Tyme?; Jim Harris played the wild ‘Ugandan giant’ Kamala, while the late Edie Fatu had a similar, albeit Samoan, gimmick as Umaga; and Mohamad Ali Vaez, of Iranian heritage, plays up the Islamaphobia angle for his character.
A documentary called Wrestling for Rotary chronicles an independent wrestling gig for charity in country Victoria in 2011, where Vaez talks about the internal struggle he faces in ‘perpetrating stereotypes that my family suffers because of [racism].’
But, at the end of the day,’I’ve suffered inherent racism in the United States, so you know what? I’m gonna make money off of it.'”
I think my sentiments still stand.
Related: World Wrestling Entertainment Will Never #GiveDivasaChance As Long As It Prioritises Bad Men.
Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?
Elsewhere: [TheVine] Can a Feminist Love Pro Wrestling?
[Radar Online] Hulk’s N Word Racist Racist Rants Caught on Tape—Foul, Disgusting Tirade Leaks.
[The Guardian] Hulk Hogan Fired by WWE After Racist Recordings Emerge.
[Grantland] A (Very) Concise History of Racism in Wrestling, 1980–Present.
Image via Lipstick Alley.