On Sunday, Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) was reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame after a three year ban. Reports from inside the company say that he met with talent backstage before the Extreme Rules PPV, in order to apologise for what he said. Here are the words that originally caused his removal from company history:
‘I’m a racist to a point, y’know, f-king n—-s. I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f–k some n—-r, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n—-r worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player! I guess we’re all a little racist. F–king n—-r.”
– Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan
These words were recorded without Hulk’s knowledge, in the privacy of his own home. For which he received a $31million settlement from the website Gawker, who published the tapes. Let me be clear — that’s not to say that what he said was okay, I’m just letting everyone know that Terry Bollea doesn’t need any money — he’s not going to starve if he doesn’t work.
I rolled my eyes back into my own skull when I saw the news on wwe.com. I knew it was a matter of time before Hulk Hogan was recognised by the WWE again, as he’s arguably the biggest star in the history of their company. I guess I just hoped that, given the current sociopolitical climate, WWE would have some level of awareness — and not try to reinstate his name during a tense time in American history.
So, in my eyes, what Terry Bollea said isn’t unforgivable — let me elaborate. I still have to believe that forgiveness is how we release anger and begin to fix any personal, social or political issues that we may have. It’s how we grow as people, and as a society.
However, forgiveness is one small step on a much larger path that includes acceptance, enabling, encouragement and promoting, and it’s a path that the WWE are clearly on with Hulk Hogan.
Before Sunday I found myself shrugging my shoulders on the Hulk Hogan issue. He’s a self-admitted racist who doesn’t deserve to be on television again, but I didn’t have active feelings of anger towards the man. He could’ve just taken his $31million dollars, retired and never shown his face in public again. That would’ve been the smart move.
Instead, he’s back in the WWE family, due to his reinstatement into the WWE Hall of Fame. Now, let’s not pretend that the WWE Hall of Fame is anything prestigious. It’s an out-of-character, yet still kayfabe awards show — so kind of like the Emmys.
This Hall of Fame is home of another orange-skinned racist — that’s right folks, Donald Trump is in the “celebrity wing” of the WWE Hall of Fame, for his involvement at WrestleMania 23. They haven’t mentioned this on WWE programming since he became president, due to WWE’s desire to keep politics out of its entertainment. Which is an interesting philosophy to have while reinstating a racist, during a time when they’re being enabled nationwide.
Ultimately, I don’t have a problem with Hogan being back in the Hall of Fame. If this is the extent of it, and it’s all about putting someone back in history, then that’s just about bearable. The issue is — I don’t think this is the last we’ll see.
It feels like WWE are testing the waters, measuring the pulse of the people in regards to having an open racist back in their ranks. Today it’s the Hall of Fame, but a month from now he could appear on Raw, and before you know it — he’s featured at WrestleMania again. This is absolutely not okay. This is the normalisation of the acceptance of racism. Again, there’s huge difference between forgiveness and acceptance.
Here’s what I think — I think that people should be able to say whatever they want within the privacy of their own homes. Personally, I’m not going on racist rants, but to each their own. If we block people from being able to say things in private, then we go down a dark path.
Hogan shouldn’t have been taped, but the fact is — he was. When people are in a space they consider to be safe, they can open up and be their true selves, and Terry revealed exactly who he is. He even said it himself, “I’m a racist to a point,” before going off on a racially-charged tirade that proved it.
It’s an awful, backwards, messed-up world view to have — but it’s one he has and clearly holds in his heart. Any regret he shows can only be from the repercussions this has had on his career, because non-racists don’t even say these things in the first place. They don’t even think them.
My opinion is that Terry Bollea should never be able to make money from a publicly traded company ever again. If this truly is a capitalist democracy, then the people will decide whether or not that will happen. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence; Given the type of society we have, backwards and harmful opinions shouldn’t be punished via jail-time or in a court of law, they should be punished with relative poverty.
Of course, that’ll have no real effect on Terry, who is sitting on $31million from a lawsuit settlement, but out of principle — as fans who vote with their wallets — we shouldn’t allow a racist to make any more money in the public sphere.
If we wants to continue to work, then let him sell t-shirts and photo-ops to MAGA-hat wearers at flea markets in Alabama, but don’t put him back on television.
If he’s ever advertised for any form of WWE programming, I’m going to cancel my WWE Network subscription. Money talks. I know that threat is thrown around a lot when it comes to the quality of WWE programming, but this is more important than quality. This is about either enabling a racist in public, or letting him rot into irrelevance in private.
Today is Wednesday, July 18th and I always thought ‘Dream Baby Dream’ was by Nick Cave, for some reason.