It looks like the WWE has struck a nerve. Several different conservative media outlets have gone on the offensive, ripping the WWE over the Zeb Colter angle.
Conservative websites Infowars.com, Breitbart.com and Fox News all commented and criticized the Colter angle. It must be noted Fox News has removed the footage of the criticism, which aired on The Five, according to Wrestling, Inc.
The criticism went so far as to say that the Colter angle was an obvious slam against the Tea Party movement and was intended to make Tea Partiers look dumb and racist.
Paul Joseph Watson on Infowars.com said the angle demonized Tea Party members. On the site he wrote:
This is part of the divide and conquer tactic of cultural subversion to manufacture racial division and to characterize the Tea Party, conservatives, libertarians, opponents of uncontrolled illegal immigration and constitutionalists as racist, extremist radicals who should be pushed to the fringes of the political discourse.
The WWE responded with the following statement in an email to The Hollywood Reporter:
WWE has a long history of creating fictional characters that serve as either protagonists or antagonists, no different than other television shows or feature films. To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines. WWE is creating drama centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view to develop a rivalry between two characters. This storyline in no way represents WWE's political point of view. One should not confuse WWE's storytelling with what WWE stands for, similar to other entertainment companies such as Warner Bros., Universal Studios or Viacom.
This wouldn’t be the first time the WWE has treaded on political issues with their storylines.
In 1990, during the height of the first Gulf War, longtime American Patriot-themed Sgt. Slaughter became a turncoat, choosing to align himself with Iraq. He saddled up with a new manager, General Adnan. Along for the ride was the Iron Sheik, who was rechristened Colonel Mustafa.
Slaughter drew an immense amount of heat, including death threats from angry fans.
The WWE also stirred the pot with their Billy and Chuck homosexual angle. Billy and Chuck were Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo. They had bleached hair and were very affectionate with each other. The angle spun on to a “commitment ceremony” between the two.
Billy and Chuck declared they weren’t gay. According to WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling by R.D. Reynolds and Randy Bear, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was upset. They had consulted with the WWE on the angle, and threatened to sue, claiming the WWE had used false pretenses to gain their approval.
Pushing the boundaries and pushing buttons is nothing new for the WWE. The worst thing the WWE could do is to become bland and complacent. They need to stay relevant to stay interesting.
The question then arises: As a company that produces television geared toward a younger audience, does the WWE have a responsibility to create characters not based on a stereotype?
The product the WWE produces is entertainment, fiction. Just like a serialized drama or comedy on regular television, the WWE has a story to tell. Good or bad, the best stories have the most memorable characters.