In his essay from Steel Chair to The Head, Phillip Serrato discusses the waning integrity of the Latino wrestling performer. Serrato focuses on the idea that since the 60s and 70s the role of the Latino wrestler has become increasingly stereotypical casting him in a particularly negative light. He notes the paradox that surrounds this trend considering that issues of racism have improved significantly over time in the U.S.
As a Latino, I had never really considered the implications of Hispanic wrestler's actions in the ring. After watching Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story, I began to understand Serrato's take on wrestling. Under the WWE, Guerrero had adopted an even more stereotypical character than he had been used in his WCW and ECW past. His "Latin Heat" persona was, as Serrato cites, a "womanizer" and a "cheat" who was not ashamed of doing anything to win a match.
I must admit that at first, I was a little suprised to see deeply Latin Heat fell into a lot of stereotypes surrounding Mexican-American culture. As I studied his antics a bit more, I realized that though his character did play with many stereotypes it was nothing particularly malicious. I wasn't especially offended by what Latin Heat did or said. In Serrato's essay, Guerrero describes the fun he had portraying his wrestling alter ego. He relates how much the character reminded him of some of the people he had grown up with in El Paso and how secure he was with his own culture to poke some fun.
I guess it just depends who's watching when. When is it ok to laugh? When should there be a line drawn to discern farce from the excessive? In this age when comedy and entertainment are pushing the limits it becomes difficult to tell when and if these boundaries are to be defined.
While the WWE does play with a lot of risky issues I believe that it does not go beyond that; it really is simply play. Truly there are some social implications, some consequences of their actions that exist outside the ring and the arena. But I don't belive that there is an intent to purposely reinforce racial stereotypes. As far as McMahon may take his program sometimes, he simply feeds off of what's hot at the moment--anything to draw heat from a crowd.