Brand New Look, Same Old Crooks

Yes: new theme for the blog. I was kind of sick of seeing the credit bar down the bottom skewed off to one side, making the page wider than it had any right to be, plus this one is just a lot tidier – it let me get rid of a whole lot of useless stuff in the sidebar, and look! It’s bright and white and stuff!

So, hands up: who ended up finding Hulk Hogan a fairly despicable human being after watching a few episodes of Hogan Knows Best? All of you? Good – me too. It was sort of discouraging seeing a childhood hero being a paranoid, controlling, self-serving lunatic on television, especially when his wrestling persona was the paragon of all that’s good and righteous. And then, the “Nick-Hogan-crashes-a-car-and-paralyses-his-friend-and-Hulk-blames-the-friend” debacle just completely ruined the Hulkster for me. He is a truly horrible person. He didn’t so much kill my innocence, as take it in his 24 inch pythons, bodyslam it to the mat, drop an atomic leg drop on it, then play to the crowd and cup his hand to his ear as my innocence lay gasping for breath from its crushed trachea. My childhood came crashing down, and it hurt inside. So it was with an understandle degree of trepidation that I approached his newest reality TV venture: Celebrity Championship Wrestling.

The good news is that Hulk isn’t the real focus of this series – he’s there as more of a figurehead, showing up for about eight minutes of each episode to rally the contestants, judge the ending bouts, and spoout some ridiculous modifications of his old catchphrases: “Whatchu gonna do, CCW-maniacs, when Celebrity Championship Wrestling runs wild on youuuuuu!?!?”, etc. Even better, semi-legends like Brutus ‘the Barber’ Beefcake, ‘Nasty Boy’ Brian Knobs and ‘Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart all show up for a good portion of the show, so for an old wrestling fanatic like myself, it’s a huge kick.

The bad news is, instead of focusing on Hulk, CCW instead puts the hot glaring spotlight of prime-time television on a bunch of washed-up celebrities who are using the show to force their long-forgotten mugs back into some form of mainstream recognition. This means we get people like Danny Bonaduce (of The Partridge Family, and his own trainwreck of a reality show), Trishelle Cannatella (of The Real World: Las Vegas) and Frank Stallone (of Sylvester Stallone’s parents and shadow) pretending to give a damn about wrestling in the vain hope of being reaccepted into stardom’s loving embrace.

Some solace can be taken from the fact that this means we get to see these insufferable hacks get beaten up and thrown around, albeit in a disappointingly safe environment. And it’d be nice if, instead of taking it easy on the trainees, Knobs and Brutus acted more like the brilliantly deranged Sarge from the old WCW Powerplant, who made Louis Theroux (who was filming a documentary about wrestling, and had asked an innocent question about storylines in pro-wrestling) do sit-ups until he vomited all over the place. Who wouldn’t love to see Dustin Diamond doubled over in pain, spewing what’s left of his breakfast all over Butterbean’s hefty carcass?

The most surprising part is that the matches, though visibly amateurish, aren’t really as bad as you’d expect, although a large degree of editing does seem to have taken place to remove what I can only hope includes unintended faceplants, and Butterbean falling on top of Erin Murphy, crushing her into two dimensions. American radio personality, Bubba ‘The Love Sponge’ does his best in the commentary role to make the matches seem as interesting as possible, pointing out when a contestant is rushing things too much, or if they’re selling a move particularly well. It’s a reassuringly dumb show, full of people making far too much use of the word ‘jabroni’, although it kind of rankles that these celebrities are earning a fat paycheck for doing nothing particularly worthwhile. (Then again, that accusation can be levied at each and every reality show in existence, and doesn’t really need to be reiterated here: Charlie Brooker has been wonderfully vitriolic about the subject in ways I can’t hope to match, so just go read his words.)

It does make you wonder how low television producers will sink with this kind of cheap, attention-seeking projects, though. What’s next? Celebrity Carny, where a group of actors from failed 90s sitcoms learn the ropes of the travelling carnival, to support their inescapable heroin habits? Or how about Make Me Famous, where celebrities fight for the chance to commit the most memorable suicide at the end of the season?

I want it to go meta – Celebrity Reality Television Producer, where Justine Bateman, John Lithgow, Mindy off Mork and Mindy, and the entire cast of Hang Time, train in the art of producing reality television, learning such important tricks as “hiring the biggest losers possible”, “taking the viewing public for idiots”, and “carrying huge bags of money”. The winner still gets to commit suicide, but not before killing every last one of the production staff, and going out as a hero.

Grumble.

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One Response to Brand New Look, Same Old Crooks

  1. Pingback: Prince of Persia: A Semi-Retraction « Mister Hands

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