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It is what it is

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I've noticed a new saying cropping up, particularly in hip hop and amongst professional athletes. "It is what it is". What does it mean? It's kind of a lazy saying and not very deep. Then again, pro athletes and hip hop artists are not known for their mental prowess, in general at least.Personally, I think it's kind of a clever way for athletes to tell reporters and the media that they just answered their own questions and to really think of something better to ask. On the hip hop front, it's a way to say, "look, cut away all the bullshit from whatever, and you'll see things clearly."

 

On the 4th of July, I attended a WWE Supershow in Sacramento which consisted of a live Raw followed by a Smackdown taping. Since Raw was live on a holiday, WWE phoned it in and had a shitty show. The only redeeming thing about Raw was seeing the HBK turn. The crowd, along with myself and several TSM posters were stunned as well. No way anyone saw that coming. Smackdown was decent, not bad. Kind of sucked that my group seemed to be the only people in the building who knew who the fuck Blue Meanie or the BWO were.

 

What I was going to dedicate my first TSM blog to was the Muhammad Hassan/Undertaker angle which has recieved quite a lot of debate on the TSM forums. I was there live for the controversial angle. While it played out live, some in our group, who were standing at first, sat back down in our seats as we started to recognize what they were doing. The audience didn't really boo what they were seeing. Quite a few people around us just looked numb. Behind me were some guys who looked either Arab or Indian decent who just sat there quiet and shook their heads. I did the same. And no, we weren't shaking our heads up and down.

 

"It is what it is"

 

In my estimation, the Hassan character is a race bait character created by WWE Creative to play off the emotions of Americans towards Arabs and Arab-Americans, post 9/11. The presentation of Hassan and Davari are that of whiny, loud mouthed heels. In no way is Hassan attempting to endear himself to the crowd. Lawler and JR interacted with Hassan early on in their storyline arc and played it up as such. The argument that the crowd turned on Hassan first is insignificant because Hassan was supposed to be a heel from the get go. He was not designed to be a face or even a tweener. That's why he delivers the promos in fire and brimstone style. It's why Davari shouts his interpretations of what Hassan is saying. By design, they are supposed to get the crowd to not like them. Does the Hassan character have reasonable motivation to act like he does? Very much so. The character makes excellent points. However, the presentation and content of the promos is to get the audience to focus on his race and what is wrong with them (the audience).

 

"It is what it is"

 

Hassan's character arc is that anything that is wrong to him is because of discrimination. Not getting title shots? Discrimination. Not wrestling who or when he wants? Discrimination. Not getting the same things other wrestlers are getting? Discrimination. Of course, this just adds fuel to his fire. It's supposed to help make his point. The incidents are usually a bit of a stetch, but that's the point. We all have seen or met someone who thinks of bullshit reasoning as to why things aren't going their way. It's the victim syndrome. You get tired of hearing it, especially when some of the reasoning is questionable. Again, that is the point. The character by design is supposed to connect with you as the opposite to Hassan. Now, one of Hassan's points is that people label him a terrorist because he's Arab-American. Of course, he hasn't done anything remotely close to what a terrorist has done or even thought. Until...

 

"It is what it is"

 

July 4th, 2005 Sacramento, California. Now, Hassan still isn't a terrorist. Nor were the hooded men in camoflauge who choked the Undertaker with piano wire. Nor is Davari, who was carried out of the ring after a beating like a martyr, a point made even by the WWE announcers. No, what I saw was WWE crossing the line of good taste. What happened that night was an escalation of Hassan's character. Hassan, WWE, and anyone else with a voice on the product have not once used the word terrorist to describe Hassan's hooded thugs or the actions those men perpetrated. Now, did WWE intend on possibly unveiling Hassan's hooded friends as Americans to help cool down the racial hornets nest they were beating on? Perhaps. Maybe the intention all along was for the hooded men to be Americans. You know what? Who cares who they were supposed to be. Or what their intentions were. They were designed to invoke the image of the terrorists who are beheading people in the middle east on the TV and on the internet. I'll throw out the piano wire as a beheading tool, because that's a stretch. However, what is not a stretch is that those men were supposed to symbolize terrorists and Hassan was obviously associated with them, thereby making him guilty by association. To think that they were just generic masked men helping a heel beatdown his opponent is to have the WWE blinders on nice and tight. I mean, how many generic hooded heels carry out their beaten comrades like martyrs and kneel down in a prayer while their leader continues to choke out his opponent in a show of power?

 

"It is what it is"

 

There seems to be a contingent of people who just look at the situation from an 'out of the box' point of view. It's just a TV show. It's just wrestling. Pro wrestling has always had evil foreigner gimmicks. Why get worked so worked up about an angle, it's fake? They're acting, it's all good. My stance is now what it was when I saw the angle play out before my eyes live. Disappointment. Disappointment because WWE didn't need to go here, but they did and now there is a little bit of a shit storm in the mainstream media and now they areback pedalling. The feeling by a lot of the crowd was that you felt like you had to go home and take a shower after watching the angle. Folks who are making arguments that it's just a TV show are right in that the world is not going to end because of the gimmick. Terrorism is not going to end or escalate on a count of what WWE is doing. However, WWE's image gets hurt a little more in the public eye. The same public eye that was buying into the product 4-5 years ago in droves. Wrestling fans get a little more insecure about what they watch. Wrestling fans now have one more thing to defend against the criticisms lobbed to them by wrestling's detractors. I can see where it would offend fans and many non-fans. As a fan, I tell you that episode of Smackdown is the last show I'd want to introduce a friend or relative into the world of wrestling.

 

"It is what it is"

 

What now? UPN apparantly wants Hassan off this week's SD and who knows how much longer. Hassan is heading into a #1 contender's match against Taker at the next ppv. Will Vince have Hassan go over Taker and take on the champ at Summerslam? Will Vince feel slighted by the mainstream media and put the title on Hassan to spite them (as well as any self respecting wrestling fans)? If you weren't offended by what WWE did on Smackdown last week, great for you. However, I can see how people could be offended by the angle and just because you weren't, doesn't mean they are wrong. There is enough evidence to suggest WWE knew what they were doing in regards to creating faux terrorists, yet leave it open enough to where they can claim deniability. If you believe what WWE is pumping to you, hey, to each his own. Just don't get mad when the overwhelming sentiment is not along WWE lines.

 

"and that, is what it is"

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There seems to be a contingent of people who just look at the situation from an 'out of the box' point of view. It's just a TV show. It's just wrestling. Pro wrestling has always had evil foreigner gimmicks. Why get worked so worked up about an angle, it's fake? They're acting, it's all good. My stance is now what it was when I saw the angle play out before my eyes live. Disappointment. Disappointment because WWE didn't need to go here, but they did and now there is a little bit of a shit storm in the mainstream media and now they areback pedalling. The feeling by a lot of the crowd was that you felt like you had to go home and take a shower after watching the angle. Folks who are making arguments that it's just a TV show are right in that the world is not going to end because of the gimmick. Terrorism is not going to end or escalate on a count of what WWE is doing. However, WWE's image gets hurt a little more in the public eye. The same public eye that was buying into the product 4-5 years ago in droves. Wrestling fans get a little more insecure about what they watch. Wrestling fans now have one more thing to defend against the criticisms lobbed to them by wrestling's detractors. I can see where it would offend fans and many non-fans. As a fan, I tell you that episode of Smackdown is the last show I'd want to introduce a friend or relative into the world of wrestling.

 

The potential and realised damage this could do to wrestling is the last thing on the minds of people like these. All they care about is how they felt about the angle, and the fact that other people could find it offensive is almost a joke to them, and that such a creatively bankrupt and morally repulsive angle could affect wrestling in a negative way is the last thing on their minds, if it's even on their minds at all.

 

What now? UPN apparantly wants Hassan off this week's SD and who knows how much longer. Hassan is heading into a #1 contender's match against Taker at the next ppv. Will Vince have Hassan go over Taker and take on the champ at Summerslam? Will Vince feel slighted by the mainstream media and put the title on Hassan to spite them (as well as any self respecting wrestling fans)? If you weren't offended by what WWE did on Smackdown last week, great for you. However, I can see how people could be offended by the angle and just because you weren't, doesn't mean they are wrong. There is enough evidence to suggest WWE knew what they were doing in regards to creating faux terrorists, yet leave it open enough to where they can claim deniability. If you believe what WWE is pumping to you, hey, to each his own. Just don't get mad when the overwhelming sentiment is not along WWE lines.

 

I strongly suspect Hassan is going over Undertaker, maybe even thanks to Randy Orton to set up the Orton v Undertaker match. As for Hassan getting the WWE Title, I would not be surprised if Vince did go in that direction, even if it would be a disaster for business. WWE knew exactly what they were doing with the imagery in the angle, and, like UPN, were trying to play both sides of the fence by having the angle taken off of overseas editions of Smackdown yet keeping in the US and Canadian versions. Not only that, they even had the angle on their website, which those in England and elsewhere can still see, so they were trying to have their cake and eat it. The fact they took the video down, and offered a bunch of laughable excuses for the angle shows they know what they did was insensitive and tasteless, but they didn't care enough to pull the plug before trying to get some mileage out of it. They did some mileage out of it, just not the kind that benefits the business, and the sad thing is they, and others it would seem, don't care about the negative light this puts wrestling in. They just care that they got any press at all, and they don't care that it isn't the kind of press wrestling needs.

 

 

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Better late than never, I guess.

 

"It is what it is" has been around for a while, at least in my neck of the woods. About eight years ago my mom accidentally called the now Mrs. kkk my ex-girlfriend's name while talking to her on the phone. Of course, this resulted in the usual joyful banter that comes with a situation like this, but I wasn't mad. When I told this story to my one friend, he didn't understand how I was so calm and mellow about the situation. I shrugged and said, "What's the point? It is what it is."

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