I know I haven’t written anything in a while and I plan to change that. I’ve been pretty busy filming for classes and have had so many appointments lately, I cannot even count them! Anyway, that is neither here nor there.
I really wanted to talk about wrestling. I have recently returned to watching WWE after a hiatus. It was an accident really. I was waiting for one of my favorite shows, Merlin, to come on SyFy and I just happened to see The Rock on Smackdown. Ash and I are huge fans of the Rock and many of the wrestlers from the 90s. We decided to watch the next episodes of Raw and Smackdown. Imagine our surprise when old favs like Trish Stratus, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Sean Michaels, the Heartbreak Kid, showed up. After that, we’ve been hooked back on wrestling.
Unfortunately, last night’s episode of Smackdown made me both sad (Edge has been forced to retire) and a little mad. You see, I love WWE. I’ve been watching since I was little. I was such a big fan and wrestling was such a huge part of my life growing up that I sprained my wrist after my brother clotheslined me on our porch when I was FOUR! We used to knock each other around on the only large bed in our house. Well…mostly he knocked me around, threw me, pinned me, etc. I just tried to fight back, as best I could! Still, I loved it!
However, last night I was not very happy with the words of Alberto Del Rio. The sad news that Edge would be retiring was heartbreaking. You see, I understand why he chose to retire better than anyone, as I am in a wheelchair due to a muscle disease. Finding out something you love to do could make you paralyzed is a heavy thing and Edge did the right thing. This is a matter where he needed to listen to the doctors, and though it has been a fun and wild ride, his health is the most important thing.
At first, I thought Alberto was going to be a bigger man, in his storyline. However, when he realized he would not get the World Heavyweight Championship handed to him, he said something very upsetting to me. He said something to the affect that he was glad he made Edge into a cripple. Either way, his words used the word cripple and he talked about his joy in making Edge one.
The disability community is one of the most discriminated against in this nation. For Alberto del Rio to use such a slur, an outdated, hateful slur like cripple in 2011 is disheartening. Further, to imply the joy in turning Edge into a cripple, an implication that such a thing is bad, and that cripples are substandard, is also a devastating prospect for someone like me. You see, I am out living my life DESPITE my wheelchair. I am in film school, raising a family, and being a productive citizen even though I cannot even stand on my own two legs or raise my arms above my waist. Many of us with disabilities are living ordinary lives, and working past our daily challenges because that’s just what we do.
People look up to WWE stars and so the words they say have merit, even the evil ones like Alberto del Rio. Using cripple, an outdated, archaic word that many of us in the disability community dislike, was wrong. For some of us, it is akin to other negative slurs (the equivalent of the f-word to gays). Cripple implies broken, less than, substandard, faulty, or not quite whole. Granted, some in the disability community are trying to take it back (I’m not one of them) and have “crip pride” but this still does not make it okay for someone, especially someone without a disability, to say it on national television.
All of us in the disability community are grateful Adam Copeland did not end up in a wheelchair. There is no denying it is a hard lot in life, BUT, and this is a huge but, for most of us, we follow the old adage. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I am not asking for an apology or anything like that, but I am asking the WWE to become aware of their many fans with disabilities and realize the impact Alberto del Rio’s words had on those watching.