KELLER'S TAKE KELLER: Hogan's latest actions indicate he doesn't realize it's over & time to go away
Jul 29, 2015 - 3:40:26 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Hulk Hogan on Day One of this n-word scandal that led to him losing his WWE job, including hosting the ongoing season of Tough Enough, issued a public statement which did a solid job of damage control. There's only so much he could do to excuse his vile language in that video, but he apologized and seemed to leave some room for people to think eight years ago he was in a bad place for some reason and said some things he is ashamed of.
As of Monday morning, he's making a complete fool of himself.
His verified Twitter account last night included a re-tweet of someone saying:
"Bi-racial President Obama uses N word, is applauded and keeps his job. @HulkHogan uses N word, is vilified and loses his job."
I feel it would be insulting to explain why this is terrible judgment on Hogan's part, you know, comparing his vile use of the n-word to describe black men who he didn't feel worthy (unless they were rich and famous) of dating his daughter, to President Obama using the word - as a black man - in the context of discussing the damage that word can still do in society and the history of it being used to dehumanize blacks in order to justify enslaving them, beating them, lynching them, and discriminating against them.
The Tweet is so ridiculous, it's hard to imagine the person who Tweeted it was serious. But either way, Hogan reTweeting it indicates he sees it as an example of why he's being unfairly treated.
Let me say a couple things about where I stand on this.
Hulk Hogan should not make money as a celebrity ever again, based on those words. His celebrity is based on two things, primarily - being a comic-book style action hero to kids and being a role model dad who "knows best." His words, captured during a genuine moment when he didn't have his public face on and thus wasn't self-editing, reveals a vile, bigoted side of Hogan that should, without a doubt, relegate him to the place most people on this planet live - out of the celebrity spotlight, quietly and humbly living out his remaining years.
I understand celebrities think once they're famous, it's their right to always be famous and to cash in on that fame. They believe once famous and admired, they should always be supported financially and have their ego fed constantly by people who look up to them for their power and status.
Hogan - I should say, Terry Bollea - performed as a pro wrestler, whose on-air persona - whether it was on AWA or WWF or WCW or TNA TV, or on a reality show or in a movie or a syndicated TV show - was created by him to make himself successful in his chosen field and be rich and famous. The on-air persona does not necessarily indicate he was ever like that in real life.
Hogan is not alone in being a hypocrite, or a bigot, or a phony. Plenty of people have sides of themselves they wouldn't want to be exposed in public. For Hogan, though, being exposed for being a bigot who can let the n-word roll off his tongue like he's asking a waiter for scrambled eggs, had that hypocrisy and bigoted and phony side of him exposed, and the price he has to pay is a fall from stature as a role model and celebrity who cashes in on his fame to get even richer.
I'm not saying he should be shunned from all of society, or thrown in jail, or exiled. But let's be clear. He's one person out of billions on this planet. He's not ordained with a special right to always be a celebrity role model. That classification comes with perks, and saying the n-word - in the context that Hogan used it - disqualifies him from expecting people to accept him and pay him while presenting himself the way he has the last 35 years in the public eye.
(I think it's fine that fans will look back at his previous work in character as a role model and feel good about what that meant to them at that time in the context of a wrestling show. My point is that Hogan shouldn't expect to continue to add to that history of making money as the Hulk Hogan character. Not now, not for a long while, and probably not ever.)
So after his statement late last week when this story broke, he should have gone away for a while. He should have deleted his Twitter feed. He should have issued perhaps one more statement this week saying he was going to leave the public eye, reflect on his failure as a human being to live up to the standards he portrayed publicly as he was cashing in on his role model status, and figure out how to make up for the pain and disgust and disappointment he caused his followers. He should also add that he isn't looking for sympathy or more hero worship because he isn't worthy of it. He should let people know that he realizes what he said was shameful and vile and at this moment not something people should come to his defense over.
He should also have stuck to the initial statement that he resigned from WWE because he knew it was the right thing to do.
His statements since then indicate he feels it is unfair he won't be sitting in the Tough Enough judge chair on Tuesday on USA Network. His reTweet about President Obama indicates he feels he is feeling the reaction to his statements are overblown and too severe. This goes against the carefully crafted, and apparently entirely insincere, apology when this story first broke.
Last night and today Hogan has been reTweeting pictures fans are sending in of a white person and a black person together saying that they know he isn't racist. These pictures are mocking Hogan, because they're celebrities, not actual people who represent the Twitter accounts he's reTweeting. He's being mocked, and he's playing into it. He should have removed the first Tweet featuring Jack Wilshire and Danny Welbeck from the Arsenal Football Club. The caption reads: "@HulkHogan this is me and my mate, we know you're not racist! Ignore the press and haters we love you brother!!" (MORE ON THIS HERE)
By reTweeting more today, he is either making joke of the situation or sadly unaware that these are not actual black supporters of instantly forgiving his use of the n-word and views on his daughter dating blacks.
Hogan is coming across as someone who feels entitled to always be an admired, acceptable celebrity cashing in on his fame in respectable situations with major corporate entities. WWE was obligated to completely disengage from its association with Hogan. Even if WWE were run by the most forgiving people in the world or terrible racists who privately agree with Hogan, their obligation remains to their corporate partners and stockholders. Hogan's comments were incompatible with remaining with WWE because of that. Hogan seemed to realize that in his carefully crafted initial statement, but now is indicating the opposite.
The best move for him remains to disappear for a while, short of one final public statement. Then figure out if he really is that racist and accept that he can't be an admired public figure in respectable circles, or figure out why he said those things and figure out a proper way to show that he deeply regrets his shallow, racist views and eventually - a few years from now - resurface to ask for forgiveness. Ideally, his future public life will be as a volunteer ambassador for a charitable cause he believes in, not trying to cash in on his discredited image as a role model.
He can't walk out to these lyrics anymore:
I am a real American, Fight for the rights of every man,
I am a real American, fight for what's right, fight for your life!
I feel strong about right and wrong,
And I don't take trouble for very long,
I got something deep inside of me, and courage is the thing that keeps us free,
I am a real American, Fight for the rights of every man,
I am a real American, fight for what's right, fight for your life!
This is not Hogan's first public scandal. He was hanging on a string during the steroid scandal, including the lie he told on the Arsenio Hall Show that almost brought down the industry (which he told me in a 2002 Torch Talk interview was his biggest professional regret). He was hanging on a thread when WWE kept him around and featured him as a hero after the sex tape footage was leaked.
The latest footage exposed a side of the man behind the fictional Hulk Hogan character that is so incompatible with his on-air public fictional persona that he cannot possibly ask the public - those who understand celebrities aren't born with the inalienable right to be admired and rich their entire lives regardless of their private actions and words - to look at him the same way again.
To redeem himself at all, it's time to delete his Twitter account, release one final statement saying he's going away to reflect privately with his family and friends, and suggest perhaps some day he can redeem himself in the public eye. That attempt to resurface is not this year or next year, and he needs to learn to live without chasing the next camera or TMZ headline or radio interview or adoring crowd. It's time to adjust to a new life experience outside of a spotlight. This cannot be fixed right now through actions or words on his part. It's time accept that and go away and be quiet for a long time.
Follow me on Twitter @thewadekeller. Follow our brand @pwtorch.
(National Wrestling Hall of Fame award-winning journalist Wade Keller founded Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter in 1987 and PWTorch.com in 1999, approaching coverage of pro wrestling as journalist, not a "fan site" acting as a booster club for the pro wrestling industry. He can be heard hosting the PWTorch Livecast every Tuesday and Thursday. His daily Wade Keller Hotline features daily news analysis for VIP members, a password-protected version of PWTorch.com featuring the weekly digital newsletter, over 1,400 back issues of the newsletter, and dozens of audio shows per week with various hosts (VIP Sign Up Page). He has interviewed most of pro wrestling's biggest names in long-form insider interviews including The Rock, Steve Austin, Jim Ross, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Vince McMahon, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Paul Heyman, and dozens of others promoters and wrestlers and announces from all eras.)
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