Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Of slime and smackdowns: Linda McMahon the candidate
In August 2010, Linda McMahon won the Connecticut Republican Senate Primary. Linda McMahon is not just the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and wife of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, but a former character in the tweaked narratives on WWE television as well. Perhaps most importantly, she was also in an executive position during a period in which many WWE performers were consuming massive amounts of steroids, growth hormone, and pain pills. Some of the wrestlers died of heart failure, like one-time world champion Eddie Guerrero, while others, like Guerrero's good friend Chris Benoit, killed his family and then himself as massive amounts of testosterone coursed through his bloodstream and enlarged heart. Benoit's brain was also determined to be severely damaged from years of hard chair shots and multiple concussions. On the bright side, lest we get too grim here, McMahon also presided over the development of the WWE's "wellness policy" after these and other fatalities. Check out her testimony at the congressional oversight hearings on steroids in pro wrestling for a laugh. Better late than never, certainly. That said, former WWE wrestlers continue to take advantage of the WWE's ongoing offer to pay for drug rehab for any former performers. Scott Hall, aka Razor Ramon, is the most recent person to take a trip on the WWE's bill. All of this intro material is to set up the question of whether any of it should have to do with Linda McMahon's senate bid. Of course it will, in our current smear culture of politics. But I am trying to look at her qualifications critically. Much like our gubernatorial candidate in California, Meg Whitman, McMahon helped lead a major publicly traded corporation through good times and bad, leaving it in a pretty good state. She spearheaded the "Smackdown your vote!" campaign to encourage voter registration, and perhaps most admirably, while she was at WWE the company made yearly trips to Iraq to perform for troops during the Christmas holidays. At first it was, perhaps, a PR stunt, but over the years, the attention waned, as did the ratings. The company still made the trip. This is a great case...it mixes pop culture, spectacle, the profane, business, gender, economics, steroids, and the US government. Whatever the outcome of the fall election, McMahon at least has some kind of legacy, as shown in the video below.