WWE seems bigger and louder than ever. Its reach as a barometer of masculine culture knows no bounds. It was reported recently that Hulk Hogan, who for those of you who don't know (and if you do, be ashamed) is a former WWE wrestler, was caught on camera making racist and homophobic remarks. His racist remarks, too banal to wax lyrical on, revolved around the n-word, while his homophobic ones, equally trite, centred on the word 'faggot'.
Given his wrestling shtick appears to have been to present as a steroided hillbilly who grunts inanities as he alternates between pretending to hit people and pretending to fall over, surprise isn't the reaction first arrived at. There is something particular about the world of faux wrestling, with its focus on brawn, violence and strife, which lends itself to small-mindedness. It isn't shocking that its stars aren't so far removed from the proclivities of its entertainment format.
Hogan has been sacked, and admittedly, the recording is from eight years ago. Some might argue that an informal statute of limitations should exist for old bad behaviour; but apologies don't seem forthcoming, and let's face it: He's likely still influential to a new generation of idiotic testosterone-fuelled boys who we gays have to deal with in school. We spend decades fighting for such language to become unacceptable, and people like him reinforce the notion the words are okay, when they aren't. He literally undoes good work, and deserves the opprobrium he's receiving.
What particularly irks is how wrestling is the gayest 'sport' in the history of the entire world, yet its practitioners still feel the need to indulge in homophobia. Perhaps it's that 'no homo' impulse. The men flounce through the wings in hotpants, oiled and coiffed, feather boas and knee-high boots gracing bulging shoulders and tree-trunk legs. They shout at each other as a DJ booms 'entrance songs' before they grapple with each other, the homoeroticism increasing exponentially until they're writhing together on the floor, all pretence that it isn't just gay porn out of the window. They grab at crotches, they grunt and groan, and eventually, worn out from all the frottage, one sits on the other and 'wins'. You'd be forgiven for thinking I was describing a Friday night in Vauxhall, but this stuff is doled out as masculine entertainment.
Hogan and his fellow wrestlers clearly cannot regularly partake in this orgy of sheer homosexuality without feeling some sense of shame (the cheques probably help) and so feel the need to remind the world they're oh-so-straight. Denigrating gays with 'faggot' assures their avid fans it's just make-believe. They don't really like muscled guys grinding on top of them, honest!
You've got to feel sorry for straight guys. This world is only slowly getting used to the notion that men should be allowed to touch each other, to hug, to kiss even. Aggressive contact sports are, I believe, designed to allow men to come into close contact with one another without being seen as gay. Without them, handshakes would be the closest men got to necessary intimacy with other men. As a species, we are social and tactile. Misogyny dictates that to do anything deemed 'feminine' as a male is to emasculate oneself. Thus, a ritual of violent aggression must surround close contact.
Until this is worked through, we're going to have to deal with guys going to great pains to ensure we don't think they're gay, even when they're dressed like go go dancers. Let's hope Hogan uses his free time to educate himself on acceptable discourse in the twenty-first century.