I need to say a thing about men and bad behavior in 2019.
But first, some stage-setting.
It started oddly enough in a discussion about WWE, and the tribute they did to the recently departed Mean Gene Oakerlund on Monday Night Raw last night. The company carted out the orange-skinned faux-blonde Hulk Hogan to deliver their collective tribute to a man who defined pro-wrestling announcing for many generations of fans, and I, among many, many others, was disgusted.
WWE has a legacy of using terrible faux-pas as an opportunity to either wedge in elements they want to be in the company, or promote themselves. They’ve been teasing him here and there for a while, and finally used someone’s death to get Hulk Hogan back on TV in a way the audience couldn’t argue with… Or so they thought. In 2019, it’s far more harmful than simply “I don’t like this guy, why are they putting him on TV?” It’s already bad enough that in 2018 WWE refused to distance themselves from the Saudi Government after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi — now they’re bringing out a racist who helped a billionaire destroy Gawker to eulogize a legend.
Someone in a discussion thread took issue with a joke made about this, and another person rushed to the defense of the Hulkster, saying basically that if everyone lived with cameras and mics in their face all day every day, there’d be dirt on them too, and that we shouldn’t rush to condemn him, because “everyone’s a dirtbag.”
Last week, it came out that local Atlana artist Squishiepuss (Ray Geiger) is a dirtbag who has not only posted really, really awful things about women, but also has made very untoward advances on women artists under the guise of mentorship and assistance. This is gross, period. But there’s a contengent of men who want to say that those discussions brought forward were private and he was just going with the flow, not knowing he’d be judged in the court of public opinion and etc etc etc…
In the era of #MeToo and seemingly endless reports of bad behavior by (predominantly) men, it’s useful to have a male perspective on the idea that everyone’s a dirtbag. I’m a male, so hey, I’ll do it:
Assholes are assholes. The secrecy around their asshole behavior only allows for more asshole behavior. The issue is not around the exposure of their bad behavior, its the bad behavior itself.
We live in a time of pervasive surveillence, recording of audio and video 24/7/365, chat logs, text logs, and any number of other ways to capture our daily moments, regardless of behavior. Philosophically, I am NOT a fan of this, but not because I’m afraid of being caught. But that’s another topic. For now, the point is that we live in this reality, here and now, and it’s not going away. This means more and more people will be taken to task for behaviors that are anything less than acceptable.
Some people who acted badly because they weren’t being watched are now being called on it. This doesn’t mean they get forgiven because “they didn’t know they were being watched” – this means “hey future dudes, don’t be shitheads – not only is it just gross, but you are being watched, and will be called in it.”
It’s a shame that some people’s lives and careers have to be burned to the ground to clear the land of their weed-like grossness. The empathic part of me feels the pain of watching your life explode before your eyes. But there’s another side to that coin: that doesn’t mean you didn’t deserve it.
If “being watched” is the only reason you behave, you’re a dick, and I have no sympathy (and this is coming from a guy who has fucked up publically himself).
It’s not enough to be sorry as an individual – we have a society to run here, and that means future racists, sexual misconduct practitioners, and other potential bad actors need to be put on notice. If that notice is written with a paste made with piss and the ashes of those who got burned down for being shitheads, so be it.
And let’s not forget, “I’m sorry” is easy enough to prove by simply not doing the shit ever, ever again. Look at Louis CK: rather than reform, he’s rebranded himself as some edgelord right-wing “edgy” comedian who blah blah blah I can’t even go on, he’s so gross. If I ever meet him again, I’m going to kick him in the nuts and take the assault charge just so he knows at least one man is sick of his shit.
So, for the Louis CK defenders and the Hulkamania defenders and everyone ready to circle the wagons and protect these poor “old school” guys who “didn’t know they were being recorded” or “didn’t know people would come forward” or “serve as examples of overreactions” and whatnot…
It’s not enough to be sorry. It’s not enough to say “you shouldn’t have done that thing” — you shouldn’t even have it in you to do the thing in the first place. And while it’s a weird and wild time in society to watch as old school behaviors get punished, and old-school thinkers (and their ilk) get up in arms about the idea that they “can’t be free to just be men” — you’re free to be men, alright. You’re free to stand up for the weak, you’re free to lift the heavy things others might not be able to, you’re free to speak truth to power, you’re free to be a good example to those around you.
- “Locker room talk” is not “being a man” — it’s being gross.
- Racism is not “being a man” — it’s being gross.
- Sexual, physical, or verbal misconduct is not “being a man” — it’s being gross.
You don’t get to be gross anymore. And as a man, I’m telling you it’s not only time to grow up and take responsibility for yourself, but to publically stand up and take responsibility for MANHOOD, and erase the toxic elements that have gone unpunished for far too long.
And that includes the Hulkster.