TV Apologist


Most of what I know about professional wrestling I just learned from the Web site of the Parents Television Council (PTC). That's the busybody organization whose president just issued a public apology to World Wrestling Entertainment for falsely and repeatedly stating that watching wrestling had inspired 12-year-old Lionel Tate to kill a 6-year-old girl in 1999. (It turned out Tate had been watching that prehistoric ode to ultra-violence, The Flintstones, and another cartoon, not wrestling, just before he committed the murder.)

In perusing the PTC site's voluminous complaints about shows such as WWE's Smackdown!, I was surprised to find that the watchdog group appears less worried about violence and far more concerned about sexual innuendo on the part of wrestlers such as The Rock . "There are many types of pie," sayeth The Rock. "There is apple pie. That's not bad. There is pumpkin pie…And, of course, there is the Rock's all-time favorite…poontang pie." (It's pretty obvious that the WWE is successfully aiming at an audience of 12-year-old boys.)

That's one of many gems quoted in "The Seamy Squared Circle ," the PTC's report studying the declining smuttiness of three wrestling programs in the period from 1999 to 2001. The report concluded that the Rock and friends were "less offensive, but still offensive."

But it's the PTC's retraction itself, along with the WWE's $3.5 million cash settlement, that's truly surprising. Accusations of a causal link between TV violence and real life violence are the daily bread of boob tube fetishists such as the PTC, despite a total lack of evidence that such a link exists. Yet unlike a television set, it takes a multi-million dollar lawsuit to turn off the L. Brent Bozell III's of the world.