Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wrestling With The Immigration Debate

Oliver Willis has a point here with the WWE's latest gimmick, where wrestler Jack Swagger and his Hannity-spouting manager Jeb Colter are the Gadsden Flag waving heels -- the bad guys being booed by crowds -- and "Mexican Millionaire" Alberto Del Rio is the face -- the good guy fighting to cheers.

On Monday’s edition of WWE Raw, Colter and Del Rio had a debate about immigration that really could have been ripped right out of cable news. Colter again complained that undocumented workers were taking American jobs and weren’t hard workers, while also whining about it being politically incorrect for him to refer to “illegals.”

He was booed. Loudly.

Del Rio responded by describing America as “the greatest country in the world,” which was the motivation for immigrants coming here to seek a better life for themselves.

This argument from Del Rio, coming from the Latino character in response to the right-wing xenophobe, was roundly applauded and prompted a “USA” chant in the arena.

In Texas.

(True to conservative form, Colter later complained that the moderator of his debate with Del Rio had shown… bias)

Sure, it’s a silly, goofy, over the top fake wrestling show – but it is also an entertainment vehicle that historically has had its finger on the pulse of its audience, changing itself to pander to the cultural zeitgeist of the moment.

WWE boss Vince McMahon, a modern day P.T. Barnum (and husband to a failed Republican Senatorial candidate), tends to give his audience the heroes and villains needed to attract eyeballs and open their wallets. McMahon and WWE have discovered that a pro-immigrant hero attracts applause and cheers, while an anti-immigrant villain is laughed at and booed.

The character who would be right at home between The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity is the bad guy.

Maybe somebody should tell the Republicans.

Oliver's right here, Vince McMahon knows what sells (his wife as a teabagger Senator in Connecticut, not so much.)  But it's a least a small sign that the times, they are a-changin'.  No matter what the GOP says, the rest of the country is having a huge laugh at the expense of the teabaggers, and if the fans of the WWE are booing the GOP line on "illegals" and cheering for a Latino hero living la vida loca (what's more "American Dream" than that?) then that's at least one more brick coming down in the wall.

Welcome to 2013, GOP.  Maybe someday you'll join us.

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