Professional wrestling programs are among the most popular shows on television; they often represent six out of the ten top-rated cable shows each week. In addition to boosting ratings, the World Wrestling Federation's (WWF) increased emphasis on violence, raw language and sexual suggestion has made it controversial. Even though the televised events the WWF chooses to put on television may be disputed; the broadcasts should still be considered acceptable on television today. Although the WWF is often scrutinized for it's content, it is no different then any daytime soap operas which are still considered acceptable.
Many wrestling events today go to the extreme. In a "Kiss My Ass'' grudge match between "The Rock" and "Mr. Ass", the loser had to kiss the other's buttocks. "Mr. Ass" brought an obese woman wrapped in a blanket into the ring and declared that his opponent would have to kiss her backside.
She obliged by lifting her skirt and displaying her underpants and a ripped pair of panty hose. However, as "Mr. Ass's" antics indicate, there may be other, draws for spectators besides the "sport" itself: sex, violence and occasional racism. Aside from the heavy metal music, there is an area of wrestling that is very politically incorrect. If you were to turn to ABC at one o'clock in the afternoon, you would see the same acts that are displayed on wrestling. "All My Children", a daytime soap opera, contains some of the most graphic sexual scenes be aired on television. Young teenage girls watching "Young & the Restless" are influenced by the notion that promiscuous sex is acceptable in society. In "Days of Our Lives" a male actor will rape, kill, and bury a woman and still end up a hero; These shows are still considered acceptable for a younger viewing audiences. These soap operas contain the same explicit adult content the WWF contains even in a stronger context; nevertheless it is still considered acceptable for a general audience.
Women wrestlers competing in "Women Title Matches" such as, "Champion Ivory" and "Tori," perform in revealing costumes apparently fashioned from a special WWF merger between "Victoria's Secret" and "DKNY." The match usually ends on a controversial call, after which "Champion Ivory" unfastens "Tori's" top. "Tori" covers her breasts and scurries off, much to the crowd's disappointment. During certain moments in a match, sellout crowds chant in unison "Ass hole! Ass hole! Ass hole!" Likewise, one can probably tune in on the Warner Brothers (WB) network and watch similar events on "Jerry Springer's" daytime talk show. Why are such daytime talk shows not being as widely criticized for their content? For instance, on "Jenny Jones" children watch female and male strippers dancing in sexually enticing outfits to the sounds of socially incorrect pornographic music. The WWF is not considered acceptable because of its violence, raw language, and sexual suggestion; but a wide variety of popular daytime shows containing the same explicit material are acceptable to numerous viewers.
Children watching the news, hear and see far worse events than what is displayed on wrestling; but yet the news is highly acceptable for today's programming standards. Another important fact to keep in mind is that the format of the WWF is such that viewers are obviously aware that it is a pre-planned display, meant for entertainment purposes only. Wrestling has taken notice of the material displayed on cable television, for this reason, the WWF standardizes their broadcasts with a TV-14 label. This precaution warns parents that the show contains violence, adult language, and adult content. If a parent allows their child to watch the WWF then they are implying that the show, in their eyes, is acceptable.
Children are holding the WWF responsible for an increase in the use of obscene language. Children watch their favorite group, "Degeneration-X," announce to the crowd and scream out the words "Suck it!" As for adult content, children that watch the news, hear and see far worse events than the WWF acts out. For example, children watch on the six o'clock news of how a young boy was abducted by two men, raped, and killed. Understandably, news is a means of informing the public. However, what standards allow such content to be deemed as acceptable for children to watch? The news should be a means of informing parents of the events occurring throughout the world. The WWF is screenplay and many of the viewers understand or realize this aspect. Televised news is real and disturbing, causing children to develop a sense of threat from society. For example, the infamous Columbine incident was consistently broadcasted by every possible news angle. Due to the news, the idea of a school shooting was implanted into many children's minds, resulting in future school shootings. Granted, the news was needed to mourn the tragic deaths of the students and also to acknowledge the acts of violence were wrong. However, the news-castings there has been an increasing amount of killings or threats of killings throughout the nation's schools.
Two recent lawsuits indicate that wrestling may be pushing the limits of the viewing standards too far. The first incidents was one, which was settled, was brought by a female wrestler who refused to have her gown pulled off in a match. The second incident relates to the death of Owen Hart, a WWF wrestler who died when the cable lowering him from the roof broke. Such incidents may indeed be pushing the limits of the viewing standards on television, in relation to a variety of other shows containing nudity, killing, and adult language.
The WWF will maintain its tradition, with many fans wearing T-shirts containing Austin's slogan: Stone Cold 3:16, "I just whooped your ass!" Throughout, our ever-evolving era, the notion of televised wrestling should be deemed acceptable to out television-viewing audience. The WWF represents the new extremes that are needed to entertain society in this growing age of ever advancing media.