The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) will be working with writers and editors at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to create and promote an anti-bullying message aimed at WWE’s core audience of adolescent males.
This came about after GLAAD raised concerns on behalf of the LGBT community concerning wrestler John Cena’s (always in-character) homophobic taunts made across a couple of matches toward the end of February. These taunts included references to the film Brokeback Mountain, to insinuating an opponent was a “fairy,” and that an opponent needed to be taught how to be a man.
Given that WWE had, at the time, recently started promoting itself as PG-rated entertainment, and that a large part of its fan-base is adolescent males, the concern was that this kind of example could lead impressionable viewers to think it is acceptable to bully others on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation.
Seeing this as “scripted homophobic bullying” GLAAD reached out to WWE Incorporated who, they say, responded “swiftly and positively” to their concerns.
GLAAD contacted WWE executives and explained the problem after receiving our first reports. They then spoke to John Cena and the show’s writers. We have been assured that not only will such incidents not happen again, WWE intends to reach out to their adolescent audience, with messages aimed making it clear that bullying someone with homophobic taunts or for their perceived sexual orientation is wrong. WWE released the following apology statement to that effect:
“WWE takes this issue very seriously, and has already spoken with our talent about these incidents. We are taking steps and working with GLAAD to ensure that our fans know that WWE is against bullying or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We strongly value our fans in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and apologize to them for these incidents.”
We are very much looking forward to developing our relationship with WWE, and we thank them both for hearing our message loud and clear, and for planning to send an anti-bullying message of their own.
The hope here is that adolescent males will no longer be encouraged to think it is acceptable to bully a person based on their sexual orientation, or get the message that there is something unmanly or negative about being gay.
This doesn’t require explicit advocacy either, simply a commitment to refraining from language that may lead to the bullying of others on the basis of sexual orientation.
That WWE has actually chosen to go further than this and create an inclusive anti-bullying message is a commendable and entirely worthwhile step.
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