I have a lot of tattoos. At this point in my life, I probably have about 30 or so hours of tattoo work on my body. My favorite, by far, is a still-unfinished tidal wave done in traditional Japanese style. I decided on a tidal wave for many reasons. I grew up on Long Island, and the ocean has always been a part of my life. Also, a month before my first sitting for this piece, a friend of mine lost his life in a scuba-diving accident so my tattoo is both to commemorate his life and what a lovely friend he was, as well as a reminder of how powerful the ocean can be. Beyond either of those very personal reasons, my tattoo is a reminder to simply ride the wave; let life take you where it will. It’s a hell of a lot easier than fighting against something you can never conquer, like the tremendously powerful tides. Stay true to yourself, but otherwise go with the flow.
I’m trying to remember to do just that, every day. It’s not easy – the world around us does not make it easy. Being a level-headed person and attempting to rise above the din is important. It’s probably as close to enlightenment as we’re going to get in this day and age. The internet in particular is an occasionally wonderful and often terrifying place to be, so when I logged into Twitter this morning and saw the latest development in the WWE/Michelle Beadle/Mark Madden story, I had to take some deep breaths. I talked to some friends. I read some articles and a whole lot of tweets. I formed my own opinions, which I’m going to share here, and then I’m going to move on with my day. That’s how I choose to ride the wave.
For anyone who may have missed it, back in May of last year, Michelle Beadle (current host of Sports Nation on ESPN) publicly discussed why she was no longer a fan of the WWE after Triple H had shown support for Floyd Mayweather, a boxer who had been convicted on multiple occasions of domestic violence. This past Monday, Beadle was shown on-camera during RAW sitting in the audience and then tweeted afterwards that she’d had a long-overdue conversation with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H backstage. Since then many people have been asking (demanding, even) that Beadle make a statement explaining what occurred to encourage her return to the fandom. She’s also now embroiled in what may be the silliest Twitter feud I’ve ever seen with Mark Madden regarding a direct message conversation they had on Twitter and whether or not Beadle needs to explain her reasons for appearing at a live WWE product.
I’ve been reading all of the reasoning behind this insistence that Beadle give a reason for her being at RAW. Basically, all of it comes back to the fact that she left her fandom in such a public way, so her return should also be public. That’s a fine reason, I’m not arguing with that. Beadle is a well-known public figure in the sports world who was trying to bring attention to a grave disconnect in our society when she left her WWE fandom: the intersection of current public focus on domestic violence issues and the idolization of sports figures, regardless of their domestic violence history.
Floyd Mayweather certainly isn’t the only one, either. WWE has had its own issues with domestic violence on the roster, including in the anchor’s own self-professed favorite wrestler, Stone Cold Steve Austin. This in particular is a fact that is thrown around often – why was Beadle choosing to make a stand at that time and why was Triple H the object of her ire? Here’s the thing: it doesn’t actually matter. Standing up and doing the right thing is something we should be doing consistently in our lives, but if everyone who ever stood up for something was forced to explain why they hadn’t done it sooner, no one would ever advocate for anything. Did I know what a devastating disease Alzheimer’s was before my Mom got sick? Sure I did. But I didn’t become such a staunch advocate for the victims of the illness and the people who care for them until I became a caregiver. That doesn’t mean I am not aware that people were suffering long before Alzheimer’s affected my life in such a direct way. I’m here now, and that’s what matters.
What is most important here is that Michelle Beadle did make a stand, and she wasn’t afraid to say “I love this thing, but if the people who make and run this thing are going to support someone who has been convicted of domestic violence, then I can’t be a part of it anymore.” Now everyone expects her to publicly explain what could have possibly transpired to bring her back. It’s not that simple, though, is it? We all have people in our lives we disagree with – some on fundamental issues that constantly drive a wedge between us – but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach an understanding that allows your friendship to continue. Granted, most of those relationships aren’t as public as the one Beadle has fostered with WWE, so what transpires between us and our friends is usually not up for discussion on social media. But Beadle chose to avail herself of the pulpit she is afforded her by her job, and thus we feel the outcome should be offered up for public consumption as well.
No one knows what happened backstage at RAW. If we are to believe (and I do) that Beadle is as passionate as she appears on this issue, then whatever did transpire was enough for her, which should be enough for the rest of us as well. And if it isn’t, it’s not her responsibility to change our mind. For anyone who turned away from WWE for similar reasons, it is not her job to present you with information on why you should return. It is entirely up to WWE to prove themselves as advocates for victims and not violent offenders. In the same way, it is their job to show anyone who may turn away from the product because of the issue of concussions that they are working diligently to protect their performers. My only hope is that Beadle was afforded the opportunity to encourage Triple H and Stephanie to put WWE squarely on the side of the victims of domestic abuse and express to their fan base at large that they do not promote individuals in any profession, or of any gender, who have been convicted of such a crime.
In the midst of all this, Beadle has gone head-to-head with broadcast personality Mark Madden, who has made it his personal mission to keep this story at the forefront of the news cycle. After a personal conversation between (supposedly initiated by Beadle) was posted on her Twitter, Madden made the story about himself and how unprofessional it was of Beadle to do such a thing. In case Mark has forgotten, he was talking to her on the internet, a place where we are so often fooled into thinking things are private. It seems mostly that he is displeased that he can’t shake Beadle, she almost appears to be enjoying his frantic raging. As they say, there is no such thing as bad press, so as long as Madden and the rest of the media are discussing both Beadle and WWE, there is no real loss.
Do I want to know what happened between Michelle and Triple H on Monday? Sure I do. Like many WWE fans, I am fascinated by the world just beyond the thick black curtains of gorilla. But more so I am glad to see politics stopping at the water’s edge, and in this age of adolescent tantrums people can still sit down privately to talk things out as human beings with differing opinions and let whatever happens next happen. Good for you, Michelle. Ride the wave.