Just about everything, no matter how awful it may be, has supporters somewhere. Serial killers might live a life of solitude in the real world, but get their story on the news and put them in prison for life and it's all but guaranteed that some lunatics will come out of the woodwork to marry those monsters.
Along those same lines, think about how many records Nickelback sells and then think about how many Nickelback fans you know. Unless you live in the deep Midwest, there's probably a huge disparity between the two. We all know Nickelback is selling records, we just don't know who's buying them.
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The go-to reference when discussing things that suck.
Nickelback isn't the only seemingly evil entity with legions of supporters who, for whatever reason, remain closeted in their fandom. Some of the most hated organizations in the world also happen to be the most successful. This column is all about why I think that may be the case.
That's also the first topic of conversation on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast.
In my quest to understand why some people remain supportive of awful stuff in the face of considerable evidence suggesting they shouldn't, I decided to start with looking into ...
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"Hate" is probably too strong of a word to describe the general public's stance toward professional wrestling and its most recognizable entity, World Wrestling Entertainment, but "respect" definitely isn't the right word either. In fact, among all of the "sports" fan bases in the world, the rabid spectators who pay Vince McMahon's presumably massive douchebaggery bills are probably the most ridiculed.
That I put the word "sports" in quotes in the previous sentence speaks directly to the issue a lot of people have with wrestling. Unlike every other major sport, the outcome of wrestling is scripted. Even worse, the violence and injuries are faked. All of those punches and slaps and clotheslines are expertly choreographed moves designed to simply look painful while inflicting no real damage (it's not called World Wrestling Entertainment for nothing). So, with that in mind, why in the fuck do videos like this exist?
That's an adorably irate wrestling fan reacting to the outcome of the most recent Royal Rumble event. Sure, you'll find reaction videos like this for pretty much every sport you can name, but in this case it's so much worse, because, again, we're talking about a scripted series of events featuring men in silly costumes fake fighting each other. Who gets emotionally invested in something like that past the age of 12 or so?
I think my first step toward trying to answer that question would be to ask everyone out there who made a beeline to theaters last year to see this doofus in action to put a hand in the air.
Pictured: adult fun.
Unless I'm missing something, that's a grown man in a silly costume carrying out a scripted series of "action-packed" events. I know people personally who laugh off wrestling as the most absurd thing ever but also try to sell me on the idea that Man of Steel was one of the best movies of 2013. You would have to be the Superman of stupid to not see the hypocrisy there.
As for fans getting needlessly angry over the twists and turns of a fictional universe, head over to YouTube and search for "reaction to Ben Affleck as Batman." You get over 100,000 results. If I know YouTube demographics like I think I do, I'd estimate that at least 99,967 of those are rage-filled rants that wouldn't be too out of place in one of professional wrestling's notoriously entertaining backstage interviews.
That fiasco is actually a good comparison to use when explaining exactly why wrestling fans get as irate as they sometimes do. Take that Royal Rumble video from earlier. Imagine if the Batman/Affleck story played out like this instead:
1. Christian Bale successfully plays the role of Batman for the majority of three films.
2. With 15 minutes remaining in the final film, without any advance warning or notification of any sort, Christian Bale is replaced as the hero of the film by Ben Affleck.
Completely changes the movie, obviously.
That's almost exactly what happened to wrestling fans at the Royal Rumble that produced that absurd fan reaction video. Fans had been clamoring for some dude named Daniel Bryan to claim a title of some sort for years, and winning this would have put him one step closer to that goal. Remember, this is a scripted thing. The people writing it know what the fans want to see, and right up to this point it seemed like the fans were going to get it.
Instead of that happening, though, the WWE brought back a wrestler named Batista (which has to be the least threatening wrestler name I've heard since "Daniel Bryan"), fresh off of having bolted professional wrestling years ago to try his hand at MMA and becoming the next Rock, and wrote him in as the eventual winner, knocking boringly named fan favorite Daniel Bryan out of line for a title shot. I'm sure none of this had anything to do with the fact that Batista has a featured role in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film.
He was the one with all the muscles, in case you're wondering. Anyway, the huge difference here is that, unlike superhero worshipers who freaked out upon hearing that Ben Affleck would be the next Batman, wrestling fans didn't (and never do) have that window of time between when the casting decision is announced and the results of that decision play out in front of them in the form of entertainment they've paid money to watch. There is absolutely no hope of complaining enough to change things. It's all over almost as soon as anyone realizes they have a reason to be upset.
So, take all of those angry YouTube vloggers reacting to Affleck being cast as Batman and put them in the same building at the exact moment that news was announced. What do you think it would sound like?
Fast forward to the 3:46 mark of that video for your answer. Even worse for wrestling fans, whereas studios cast their movies based on a legitimate belief that they're picking the best available actor for the role, by all indications the WWE throws these twists and turns into the mix with the sole intention of making fans angry.
Basically, wrestling fans aren't any crazier or easier to entertain than anyone else; they just like a different set of men in costumes than the "cool" kids on the Internet who go apeshit over the way storylines from comic books and graphic novels play out on screen.
Hey! Thanks for sticking around as long as you did, everyone who saw the name "Fox News" in a column about things that aren't as bad as they seem and immediately stopped reading so you could hightail it to the comment section to tell me you saw the name "Fox News" in a column about things that aren't as bad as they seem and immediately stopped reading!
As for everyone else, please understand, I'm not really saying Fox News is a good thing. Their main function in society is to promote talking points that, more often than not, come from people I disagree with on just about every level possible.
That said, how convenient is it that all of those wacky opinions and talking points are gathered in one easy-to-remember location? Think about how good people on the anti-Fox News side of things have it compared to people who have to blame all of their problems on "the liberal media." Depending on the content of the news story or article in question, that can be just about anyone. If you view "Fox News vs. liberal media" as two separate sides of a war, like a lot of totally-helpful-to-the-fabric-of-American-society types do, you definitely want to be on the side that knows exactly where the enemy fire is going to be coming from.
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Thanks for all you do, guys.
Fox News is like the light hanging high above the parking lot of a shitty convenience store in the summer, attracting all the moths and gnats and mosquitoes in one spot so they can be easily avoided by anyone who doesn't want to be bothered with their bullshit. Granted, that light is hanging low enough that, if for some silly reason you decide you want to, you can totally go stand over where they are and stick your head in among all the buzzing and biting. Maybe you need to for some reason, who knows? Whatever the case, you know where they are and you know what they're up to if you need to find them.
That's Fox News. Fair, balanced, and easy to avoid if you don't want to be bothered with their bullshit.
Meanwhile, to hear their supporters tell it, the "liberal media" infects everything, from television to movies to music and everything in between. They live in constant fear of having their way of thinking infringed upon in any number of different daily situations. One minute they're watching a thrill ride of a film co-piloted by the likes of Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum ...
That's the one!
... the next, they're outraged over liberal bias in a movie where the hero plays a Republican war veteran who didn't vote for the president he's protecting.
Living in fear of that kind of attack on a daily basis can't be easy. At the very least, it's not nearly as easy as just not watching Fox News.