This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program may contain one or more of the following: some suggestive dialogue (D), infrequent coarse language (L), some sexual situations (S), or moderate violence (V).
The key word in the TV-PG definition is “may,” because a TV-14 rating indicates the following:
This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended. This program may contain one or more of the following: intensely suggestive dialogue (D), strong coarse language (L), intense sexual situations (S), or intense violence (V).
Whereas a TV-PG program might have unsuitable themes in terms of dialogue, language, sex, and violence, a TV-14 has content that might be objectionable to a large number of parents. A TV-14 program is much more likely to have situations occur that some might find to be inappropriate for children.
A simple keyword search online of “End WWE TV-PG era” yields an amazing amount of petitions to end the “TV-PG era” and speculation concerning the TV-PG rating going back to TV-14.
The problem with the thinking that TV-PG will go away is that according to the WWE Corporate website, “WWE’s SmackDown has always been rated TV-PG.”
WWE has gone to great lengths to ensure that the TV-PG rating will stick around for a very long time.
Since switching all of their programming to a TV-PG rating, WWE has become much more family oriented. Some of these changes have been evident by the politicians and celebrities that WWE has attracted.
During the Attitude Era, WWE famously had The Rock interview Gennifer Flowers at WrestleMania XIV. This interview was filled with sexual innuendos to play-up Flower’s infamous claim that she had a sexual relationship with former President Clinton in the early-1990s.
WrestleMania XIV also marked the debut of disgraced former baseball player Pete Rose in WWE. Pete Rose’s comments to the Boston audience consisted of berating the Boston Red Sox baseball team and personnel. Rose was banished from Major League Baseball after “he had gambled thousands of dollars on baseball games as player and manager for the Cincinnati Reds,” according to NPR.
Celebrities involved with WWE during the Attitude Era were often times brought in because of their infamous notoriety. The most recognized celebrity involved with the Attitude Era is probably former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
When the Attitude Era ended, the type of celebrities showcased on WWE programming started to change.
On the WWE Corporate website, the following celebrities are listed as appearing on WWE programming: “The Muppets, Hugh Jackman, Jeremy Piven, Nancy O'Dell, Jewel, Ryan Phillippe, Kristen Wiig, Shaq and Bob Barker.
In a TV-PG environment, it seems that WWE is able to utilize celebrities from a wider spectrum of media. Leaning away from the shock value of infamous celebrities, WWE is broadening their appeal by inviting less shocking guests on their shows.
Although many call for an end to WWE’s TV-PG rating, WWE is able to invite and engage in a wider range of media partnerships.
When looking at who watches WWE, it is apparent that the audience is diverse.
WWE’s Corporate website claims that its “diverse audience spans generations of fans.” A TV-PG rating helps WWE to keep fans of various age levels. By presenting material that is generally and morally accepted by all watching, there is a greater chance of retaining fans over time.
Even though there are WWE programs specifically made for young children like Saturday Morning Slam, the majority of WWE fans are over the age of 21. Specifically, “74% of the WWE audience is 21 and over” according to Nielsen Media Research on WWE’s Corporate website.
With most of the audience being over the age of 21, WWE needs to continually create new fans for the future. These will be the fans that dream of going to WrestleMania as children and pay to attend as adults.
WWE is creating an audience for the future through its TV-PG rating. While keeping older fans watching, WWE’s TV-PG programming is creating a new generation of young fans. Some of these younger fans could become lifelong members of the WWE Universe.
WWE has been involved with community outreach initiatives for over 30 years. During this time, WWE’s community involvement has mostly involved “grant[ing] the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses who desire to meet their favorite WWE Superstars and Divas,” according to WWE’s Corporate website.
During the past decade, WWE has been forming even more partnerships at a rapid pace.
WWE ties all of these community initiatives together on its WWE Community website. This website details all the community outreach that WWE takes part in.
Summarizing their commitment to the community, the WWE’s Community Website states that:
WWE is committed to leveraging the power of its brand and platforms to help address important social issues worldwide including diversity and inclusion, education, military support and providing hope to those in need. Through partnerships with Ad Council, GLAAD, Hire Heroes USA, Make-A-Wish, Pearson Foundation, Special Olympics Connecticut, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, The Creative Coalition and USO, WWE supports programs and initiatives that positively impact children and families around the world.
One of WWE’s most recent partnership announcements was made at WrestleMania 29 with WWE partnering with the Special Olympics.
In a TV-PG environment, these kinds of partnerships are possible. These organizations want to partner with those who share the same values.
Trying to serve its diverse viewing audience in meaningful ways outside of just entertaining, a TV-PG WWE can form partnerships with organizations that can best help WWE.
The Attitude Era was a unique time in WWE for sure. It is an era that will live in the memories of those who watched it. The present-day WWE is not a place for a TV-14 era to return.
A major change within WWE would need to occur for an era like the Attitude Era to happen again.
Vince McMahon introduced the original Attitude Era on the December 15th, 1997 episode of Monday Night Raw with a monologue. In this speech, McMahon stated, “surely the era of the superhero that tells you to say your prayers and take your vitamins is definitely passé.”
There are heroes and villains presented in the TV-PG WWE Universe. For some this is “passé,” but it seems that a tremendously diverse audience enjoys what WWE presents.
Could an Attitude Era happen again? What would it take for TV-14 to return to WWE? Is TV-14 something that is even really wanted by a majority of the WWE Universe?
Read more from Sean McCallon on the Double Axe Handle Blog.
Follow me on Twitter @TheBlueMask246