Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Truth, Heels and Gender Roles: Why Kelly Kelly Is the Real Diva Villain

The actions of an honorable woman?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
All Beth Phoenix wants is to be taken seriously. It's hard for her to do so when she's one of the few in a division who strive for that. When most of the Divas base their offense on how hot they are, or how well they can shake their asses, it can be hard for a legitimate female wrestler to ply her trade when all she wants to do is bust skulls. What was her repayment? She's painted as the villain, and furthermore, Kelly Kelly, the most egregious of the ass shakers and stink-facers, gave her the waylaying of a lifetime.

Coincidentally, K2 is considered the face of the Divas division.

While this may not seem "right", it has been the status quo in WWF/E for a long time to some degree. The heels were the ones who told the truth, often times uncomfortable, while the faces spun propaganda to some degree. This was no more evident than in the broadcast booth in the '80s and '90s, when Bobby Heenan and Jesse "The Body" Ventura would point out flaws in Hulk Hogan's or the Ultimate Warrior's games. Obviously, they were bad for a reason; they'd often ignore the misgivings of their bad guy counterparts, but this is nothing new for WWE.

However, the level at which this attacking of the truth, at least from an institutional level, seems to be a bit excessive from where I sit. Let's switch the narrative around a little bit. Instead of Beth wanting to turn the Divas away from looks, splits and booty-shaking, what if she came out and wanted to rid the Divas of politics and ass-kissing? She'd be CM Punk, right? CM Punk's a good guy, or at the very least, he's a fan favorite (which may still yet make him a bad guy if the fans are into that kind of thing), correct?

So, basically what the WWE is saying is that it's okay for the men to have real competition, but the ladies should be there to shake their asses. I'm no feminist, and believe me, I've gotten my fair share of erections looking at sexy photo shoots, but that's not kosher from where I sit, ESPECIALLY when the one company that does nearly everything WWE tries to do, only worse, gets it better than they do in this instance, even now when their women's division is at its worst. When Impact books women better than you, you have problems.

Even more troubling are the demographics for WWE. Apparently, 36% of the audience is female. That's not a trivial number, and it's one that needs to be catered to. That begs the question, what caters to women? Do you assume they're all vain and easily fooled by platitudes like being called "smart, sexy and powerful" without any evidence of that being the case, or do you assume they're real people who like real, three-dimensional characters, or at the very least, two-dimensional characters who can actually wrestle? The WWE thinks it's the former, but I'm going to make the not-so-wild assumption that 36% of their audience would like to see more of the latter.

So you can very much agree on why I feel like positioning Beth as a heel is a bad thing, right? Especially when the thing she's been fighting against was so expertly personified as a bad girl trait during LayCool's epic run on Smackdown. Strong women are good role models. Conversely, the woman with minimal wrestling skills maybe shouldn't be held as the paradigm. I mean, K2 uses the Stink Face, a move that was used by someone 300 lbs. her heavier. The girth was the efficacy, but now, it's reduced to lesbian homoerotica. While I'm not exactly going to argue that I dislike that kind of thing, I don't think it should be used in something that is being staged as legitimate competition. Then, in response, she Pearl Harbors Beth, partially out of retaliation for last week, but you could assume she was a bit miffed at the criticism. Then again, when did the good guy sneak attack someone? Oh yeah, that's right, it's SOP in WWE. No one fights with honor anymore. But I digress.

The point is, if the gender here was inverted, Beth Phoenix probably would be a folk hero. Instead, she's used as a monster to get over the paradigm that you need to be PRETTY PRETTY OH SO PRETTY to be a good girl in WWE (completely oblivious to the fact that there are people in the fandom, of which I'm a member, that think Beth is way hotter than Kelly). When you have a significant portion of women in the audience, especially impressionable youths, maybe it's time you start portraying the fairer sex as more than just pretty faces, fake tits and shrinking waistlines.

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