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How the Mainstream Media is Blowing the Benoit Story

Chris_benoitThe mainstream media and professional wrestling have had a difficult relationship for many years.  Sometimes I wonder if this is because they are alike in so many ways.  Professional wrestling presents itself truthfully as pure entertainment, not sport.  Yet the media will not admit that it is also primarily entertainment, and not real news.  At least much of the time.

So I shouldn't have been surprised or disappointed with the media's mis-handling of the recent Chris Benoit tragedy -- immediately jumping to conclusions about steroid use and "roid rage", mis-representing the facts of his son's health condition (Fragile X), and treating the story with an awkward cross between news-mongering and head-scratching.

While the mainstream media dropped the ball on this one, the wrestling fan site OnlineOnslaught.com offered some of the most intelligent and thoughtful analysis of the whole Benoit story.  Rick Scaia from OO has provided excellent commentary here, as well as a transcript of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon's Today Show interview with Meredith Vieira, which aired Thursday morning.

As the highest rated show on cable TV, WWE's Monday Night Raw has an enormous following; and Chris Benoit was a major player in the WWE's storylines for several years.  I would be willing to bet that more Americans could recognize a photo of Benoit than could recognize presidential contender Mitt Romney (and I'm not saying if that's good or bad).  The media's confusion over how to treat the news of the Benoit family murder-suicide demonstrates, again, how out of touch they are with so much of mainstream American culture and how they prefer to stay that way.







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Comments

Amy H

I do agree, however, I don't think the WWE handled it very well either.

I understand cancelling "Raw" that night, but airing a special for some psycho that murdered his wife, with his little boy there, then after time passed, murdered his own seven year old boy. I can't imagine what a horror the last couple days of that little boy's life were and here WWE was, airing a "special" for Beniot.

And that, muh friends, is why we don't watch that trash.

T.

Completely agree with you Amy. I saw some wrestler the other night weeping on TV and saying "I'll never let you down Chris!" Let HIM down? The scum bag that just murdered his family? Good God. Disgusting.

Leslie

To be fair, the WWE aired that special before the facts of the case were made public. They have since stated they would be making no further mention of him on the show, and I believe I heard (though I'm not 100% sure of it) that they were striking his name from their records. I'm not a fan of WWE by any means, but I feel that they're trying to make it right now.

Amy H/Butrfly

Leslie - I considered that - I actually felt compelled to write a blog post about this for some reason, so this is directly from that:

"But let’s look at the facts: a 220 pound professional wrestler cancels appearances citing “family emergencies,” [and WWE actually CALLED the police because of strange TM's they were getting from him,] then is found dead with his family (he was in a separate room) with two giant German Shepard guard dogs roaming the property.

I just don’t think I could have assumed anything other than “BENOIT WAS A PSYCHO.” I definitely would NOT have run a *special* to *honor* him."

I can see how they would be shocked and not want to jump to conclusions, but anyone who looked at the immediate facts - even the little they had at the time - could have seen that he was most definitely not a victim.

I hadn't heard that WWE was making those plans - although I did just see a headline saying that Vince McMahon (who, ironically, was supposed to be 'fake' dead for that Raw show - isn't that weird!?) called Benoit a monster. I'm glad they are changing their stance.

It was a bad decision on the part of not only WWE, but USA, too. They didn't think it through and ended up glorifying an evil man. It just makes me so sick to see people like this get so much attention - positive, even! - there are so many people more worth it.

Tessa

Something you have to take into consideration Amy is that the things that Chris Benoit did, murdering his family and then committing suicide, were outside the realm of who they knew him to be. They worked with him day in and day out. They saw him more than their families at home due to their travel schedule. They wouldn't necessarily jump to a conclusion that he went batshit crazy on a killing spree. He was known to be a quiet guy who was respectful and honorable and someone who loved his son beyond measure. Their tribute to him was done out of love for who they knew him to be. I know several people in that business and this whole thing is hurting them all, and I don't mean on a business level. Meh. I'm shutting up now. I've posted about it on my blog and I'll prolly do a follow up there cause I'm gettin to wordy.

Amy H/Butrfly

Hey, Tessa!!

I read your last post about him and I know at that point, there wasn't a lot of info out about it - there really wasn't when I wrote mine, either. But his wife was bound, beaten and strangled, I just dont' see that being an accident. She'd filed for divorce before, too, citing (I believe) fear of abuse/abuse.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with anyone - I understand the people in his life - including his fans- are shocked and devastated. But that doesn't change what happened. You know, my mom's ex husband tried to kill her - we were all shocked, despite the fact that he'd abused her and as difficult as it was, we all moved on in life without him - even his biological kids. People can be messed up in the head and not show it until they're old and gray, you don't have to grow up a creepy person to do creepy things.

To wrap up my rambling, I DO see how that side feels - but he still did what he did - and glorifying that was JUST wrong.

Tessa

Amy--

Believe me... I get your point. I don't know for fact that it was an accident. I was just throwing questions out that had come to mind. Going over possible scenarios as to what actually happened. I guess the point I was trying to make in my comment is that the tribute to him wasn't done to glorify what he did that weekend it was to remember a friend and co-worker they respected.

I know this is a stretch to think of but try to put yourself in their shoes... does that act of rage/desperation/insanity negate everything else about the man's life? If someone you were close to had done something heinous, would it undo everything you knew and loved about them? Just something to think about... (And I'm officially shutting up about this subject now. Its a lil too close as I had personal contact with him on a few occasions. :) I get pissy... lol)

Amy H/Butrfly

RE: "If someone you were close to had done something heinous, would it undo everything you knew and loved about them?"

:) That's the only reason I mentioned what my step-dad did. I've never told anyone that before (Oh, Hello, World!)

Yep, it did. Same with his own biological kids.

Tessa

Amy-- Heh see what I mean. Too close. I read that about your step-father and it didn't register. Sorry about that. I'm a dope.

Courtney

Citing "fear of abuse" is an altogether different animal than actual abuse, and I think it's unfair to use that to characterize him as a monster. Obviously I'm not defending what he did, but he clearly had to be deeply troubled to do what he did. Also, I don't remember anyone demonizing Phil Hartman's wife like this when she did basically the same thing.

Amy H/Butrfly

First, Courtney, it was late and I didn't want to look up the article:
From AP:
Despite those appearances, Nancy Benoit had filed for a divorce in 2003, saying the couple's three-year marriage was irrevocably broken and alleging "cruel treatment."

I brought that up because Tessa had thought - like most people - that his family life was very happy.

Second, I think he's a monster for binding and murdering his wife, then smothering his own (SEVEN YEAR OLD) son the NEXT DAY (which means, he PROBABLY watched his mother die). Not because his wife wanted a divorce four years ago.

I think that " he clearly had to be deeply troubled to do what he did" is an understatement. I don't know why people feel the need to convince me that the dude was messed up. I got over that fact the second I saw the headline. It's not about HIM - it's about what he did to his family. The selfish prick didn't even consider just killing himself - he had to take his LITTLE BOY first? Yep, "deeply troubled" is most DEFINITELY an understatement.

My whole point in this is tht people are making the psycho out to be a victim and the ONLY victims in this case were his wife and child.

Julie

In regards to the special that aired Monday night...I think we all should realize that at that point no one knew what happened. On the next TV airing of WWE/ECW or whatever it is, they did say that they wouldn't again mention him, after learning the details.

He was clearly mental. Killing your spouse in some kind of rage is one thing, killing your mentally disabled child is a whole extra level of crazy.

Femtastic

I find it very funny that everyone here is going on and on about what he did and who he is, when neither of those things has really been established. We'll never know exactly what happened in that house or why or what happened to his brain to make killing anyone seem like the reasonable thing to do. All anyone here knows for sure is:

-he killed his wife and son, which was terrible
-a lot of people are mourning everyone involved
-the whole thing is just sad and full of victims all over the damn place.

There is no black and white -- it's all very sad and tragic grey.

Courtney

Amy-
I understand your points, but my only point was that Brynn Hartman did almost the same thing, and no one called her a monster, just talked about how "deeply troubled" she was.

T.

I believe it came out that Brynn Hartman was a coke head not just "deeply troubled". She also did not kill her children.




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