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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

You Know Who Would Handle Race/Transgender Issues Well? TNA, That's Who

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You'd have to figure that TNA's new lead producer of creative and talent development, Smashing Pumpkins frontman/wren-voiced eccentric Billy Corgan, would have some wholly different ideas for what a wrestling show should have on it. And by God does his opening salvo indicate as such.

Speaking to FOX News on what he plans to bring to TNA, Corgan noted:

“There is a tremendous opportunity to go into really fresh, new directions. Having characters who explore race or transgender issues is certainly a possibility. There are ways to explore those themes in ways that are productive, create new stars and show that value-based ‘babyfaces’, no matter what their background, no matter where they come from, can draw new audiences and inspire people in new ways.”

Well, he's far from wrong; the audience will connect with wrestlers they identify with, and there are ethnic minorities as well as transgendered people that watch wrestling that would gravitate toward a performer that embodies the genetic hand they themselves were dealt. It's just that wrestling doesn't exactly have a sterling history of handling these issues with any sort of sensitivity.

I'd argue that the only black wrestler in the big two (well, Big One plus TNA) that is booked without any sort of racial overtone is Bobby Lashley, who's presented as just a straightforward ass-kicker in accordance with his MMA background and impressive look. He's not a member of violent gang, nor does he clap rhythmically like a gospel choir member. Wrestling's always had a fucked-up take on race; David Shoemaker notes in his 2013 book Life and Death that wrestling's always been about wide strokes that appeal to that fan in the 95th row, so it's been hard to get out of those tropes.

As for a transgendered wrestler, the bar was set mighty low with Goldust feeling up his opponents under the guise of 'psychological warfare', so you'd think a more dignified approach is already a step in the right direction.

Overall, I'm just tickled pink that the wrestling promotion with the suddenly-stated capacity to break racial and gender boundaries with a bold new approach just happens to have Dixie Carter in charge. Dixie's been to progress what Amanda Bynes has been to rationality, but if wrestling can change, then Dixie can change, I suppose. Think Rocky said that.

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