Mick Foley's book, "Foley is Good," may have been the best book I've read since "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown. In fact, it was so good I went and bought his third and newest, "The Hardcore Diaries." I wanted to get his first, since that seemed to make the most sense, but Borders and I didn't seem to be on the same page that day and they only had the third on sale for me to buy.
I don't know why I never bothered to pick up this book before. It's not as if I shunned pro wrestling autobiographies - I've read Rock's book, Shawn Michaels's book, and half of Eddie Guerrero's (a feat in itself, since I always shied away from it since his tragic death in 2005). Kudos to Sam though for making it required reading because it's a fascinating book that made me laugh so many times I lost track. It was warm and heartfelt, and so very genuine, and well worth the money.
However, I didn't plan on having this post praise Mick's book, even though it wouldn't be that hard to do with how impressed I am with the book's quality. Instead, I'd rather focus on the last chapter or so in his book where he addressed some of the many criticisms that pro wrestling still faces today.
Does professional wrestling on television cause violence, or do violent people tend to watch professional wrestling? This is a question that just goes back and forth, a strange "did the chicken or did the egg come first?" kind of thing that you hear a lot of when you study psychology. The truth of the matter is that the Monday Night War, while providing terrific viewing and innovative storylines and characters, further enhanced wrestling's status as trash by the media. It's a popular notion that pro wrestling, specifically the WWE, is riddled with sex and violence. And in some cases, it's true... okay, in most cases, it's true.
The real truth is that the media needs a scapegoat. I was surprised to see Mick state in his book that the PTA actually linked the Columbine attacks to the WWE. They must've grown tired of blaming rock music or twisted video games, and must've needed something new to blame instead of putting the blame on the shoulders of the parents. I always wonder where the parents are when these situations occur. They're usually nowhere to be found until after the fact, and that's sad. Nowadays, the focus has shifted back to video games like Grand Theft Auto, who brainwash teenagers who can't differentiate reality from a video game. Those teenagers, suffice to say, must be more lacking in brain cells than Al Snow. :)
In all seriousness though, when will the media figure it out? Pro wrestling is entertainment. It's meant to draw fans who'll pay their hard earned cash to see John Cena take it to Triple H or Edge or whoever the heel du jour is (unless they're like me, in which case, they're paying to watch him lose. The green is still green!). It's in much the same way that I shelled out around 20 bucks (rip off galore!) to go watch Rocky Balboa in the movies when it came out late in 2006. Why would I do such a thing to watch violent depictions of an older man almost getting his head knocked clean off his shoulders when it's not even real?! Because I, along with millions of other people, enjoy the story. The violence is supposed to enhance a story. I'm sure Sylvester Stallone must've taken a legitimate shot here and there in his quest of six Rocky movies, but even the man himself acknowledged in some interview on wwe.com that what wrestlers do is no joke and takes a lot of athletic skill to do, day in and day out. And if pro wrestling isn't violence enhancing a story, I don't know what it is.
But are Rocky (movie, not wrestler) fanatics being touted as more violent in nature than people who enjoy, say, Happy Feet? Doubt it. What exactly distinguishes a movie that airs this kind of violence, like the Rocky series, from professional wrestling except for in one you're staring at a screen and in the other you're actually watching them perform? Is there a difference? Does watching either make you more of a violent person? The notion is assinine, at best. If you're not old enough to appreciate the story of Rocky Balboa as an underdog and you want to go out and try to knock someone out because of that movie, you might be too young to watch it in the first place. Same thing goes for wrestling, and violent (rated M for mature) video games, and HBO shows like The Sopranos (best show ever, by the way).
Before the school year started, I remember reading about a 19 year old boy who killed a homeless person because he was "imitating wrestlers." I'm 19 years old as I type this, and from one 19 year old to another, I hope they locked that lunatic up and never let him see the light of day again. Besides enhancing the "teenagers are stupid" stereotype, he also beat an old horse to death by shining the WWE in a negative light. No, the WWE isn't to blame for violence in society. Just like McDonald's isn't to blame for someone eating there every day and weighing over 400 pounds. Just like beer companies aren't to blame for an alcoholic who gets raging drunk and beats on his family. People make their decisions, and when they decide to use pro wrestling as an excuse for criminal behavior, it'd be nice if the media could look through that and see it for what it really is - nothing but a desperate blame game played by people with everything to lose.