Questions For Edward Snowden

Two nights ago, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams introduced highlights of his pre-taped interview in Russia with exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in a prime-time special.  The 30-year-old American patriot came off just as well as he did nearly a year ago when he faced similar questions from then-Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald in a Hong Kong hotel room.  As always, the Obama Administration & its allies in the intelligence community should be very worried.  He’s the best living argument against their unconstitutional agenda.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of important questions Williams didn’t ask:

1. Why didn’t you leak to WikiLeaks?

2. Don’t you miss your girlfriend?

3. What other secret mass surveillance programs are currently operational at the NSA that we don’t know about that we should know about?

4. How many prominent opponents of the Obama Administration, who don’t actually pose a threat to national security, are specifically being targeted by the NSA?

5. Do you regret revealing your identity publicly before reaching your intended destination of Latin America in order to achieve a more permanent political asylum?

6. It was reported that you originally did not approve of Chelsea Manning’s leaking of classified documents to WikiLeaks.  First, is that true, and second, if so, when & why did you change your mind about her whistleblowing?

7. Are you worried about publicly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian policies (blogger registration law, secret mass surveillance) too much to the point where it affects your asylum status?

8. If you do make it back to America & not face any jail time or real consequences, what do you hope to do career-wise?

9. Based on what you’ve seen & experienced as an intelligence analyst, instructor & spy, is it really possible to rein in the NSA’s astounding technological capabilities with legislation alone?

10. Why does the NSA view critics of the Obama Administration as “adversaries” on par with “terrorists” when they’re not breaking the law?

11. Do you fear for your life in Russia?

12. How much secret NSA material is overclassified as such, ballpark percentage-wise?

13. Is the NSA secretly spying on President Obama & Vice President Biden or any other public officials like sitting members of the Senate, the House Of Representatives and the Supreme Court?

14. Are you prepared to spend the rest of your life in Russia if necessary?

15. Do you think the President should be impeached for supporting these secret mass surveillance programs purely on the basis that they violate the 4th Amendment?

16. Do you support the War On Terror?

17. How did you determine what classified material to steal and what not to steal?

18. Do you think the National Security State can survive in its current form despite the growing international backlash to its secret mass surveillance programs?

19. When did the NSA’s focus on terror expand to protest groups, other types of criminals (drug dealers, for instance) & foreign commercial enterprises?

20. Do you feel you & the journalists who have written all these articles about these documents you leaked are doing enough to combat the misinformation spread about the information, them & yourself by Obama officials and their sympathetic media allies?

21. Do you think President Obama’s Insider Threat Program, initiated in the aftermath of the Chelsea Manning leaks, will have any kind of deterring effect on future potential government whistleblowers?

22. Are you disappointed that Democratic Representative & 60s civil rights activist John Lewis doesn’t support your whistleblowing?

23. Do you think the “Restore The 4th”, “Stop The NSA” & “Reset The Net” movements will ultimately succeed despite the significant pushback from Obama and the intelligence community?

24. Were you surprised at how easy it was to take all those documents without detection?

25. In your estimation, is the American public sufficiently angry enough over these revelations?  What about the rest of the world?

26. Do you think the reform movement in general can sustain itself beyond the stories about your disclosures & the Obama Presidency?

27. Isn’t it only a matter of time before the NSA is able to break through all forms of encryption no matter how strong it keeps getting?

28. What was wrong with season 2 of The Wire?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, May 30, 2014
2:34 a.m.

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Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 2:34 am  Comments (2)  

Sophia Bush’s Revealing Buzzfeed Interview & Warmongering Human Rights Activists

Last week, Buzzfeed.com posted an interview with actress/activist Sophia Bush.  She gets the usual fawning treatment with zero tough questions.  Look, I get it.  She’s a talented, glamourous TV star who has also embarked on positive charitable endeavours – I’ve praised her for all of this myself – but as I’ve also noted in this space for almost 2 years now, there are legitimate reasons to be critical of herLongtime readers know why.

But back to the interview.  While generally reflecting upon her nine-year stint as Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill, Bush said this:

“The biggest thing I learned from that time was to trust my gut instincts about people, both professionally and personally…There was a time in my life when I would see behavior I didn’t like and think, The universe put us together for a reason; obviously I should stick it out and try to make it work…I wish I’d known to trust my instincts more.”

She could be talking about her now regretted short-lived marriage to OTH co-star & possible biological son of David Caruso, Chad Michael Murray.  But I wish she was talking about President Obama.

In fact, it’s rather curious that his name is not once mentioned in the interview.  Buzzfeed reporter Jarett Wieselman apparently didn’t ask her about him.  If he did, it certainly didn’t make the resulting article.

It’s a shame because when Bush talks about the President, she greatly embarrasses herself with either her incredible ignorance or steadfast denial of what he’s actually done while in office.  For two straight federal elections, Bush publicly vouched for Obama, completely buying into his seemingly liberal “hope & change” rhetoric.  (I supported his first campaign, as well.)  But while many of us now see how petty, vindictive, torturous, murderous, secretive & dishonest he has turned out to be – a Dick Cheney Democrat – Bush hasn’t joined in with his growing chorus of critics.  In fact, if anything, she has become curiously silent about the man altogether.  No one should be surprised.

Oh yes, as I recall her telling me on Twitter last year, “…I have many more discussions with news outlets and friends around my dinner table alike than you will ever know.”  In the Buzzfeed interview, she told Wieselman, “Whoever knows me knows I could talk to a wall all day; I wanna have five-hour dinners and drink wine with the people I love and dig into issues and get really deep with people.  That is a quality I like about myself.”

How many of these epic get-togethers involve any actual, substantive criticism of the President?  If only walls could talk.  God knows this isn’t happening out in the public sphere.

Continuing her lament about not trusting her instincts in the OTH era, she further notes, “When a red flag comes up and you ignore it because you’re trying to be nice or keep things easy, I’ve learned not to do that. I’ve really realized I don’t need to be a people pleaser. I don’t need to give anyone else’s opinions more weight than my own. My opinions should matter the most because they’re mine. [emphasis mine] And if your opinions are formed from a place of genuine honesty and kindness for others, then your opinions are worth defending — and now I do.”

Sophia Bush doesn’t care if your opinions are more factual than hers.  Her opinions “matter the most”, you see, because she’s Very Important.  (“[my fans] love me for who I…really am… all my excitable, loud, messy, sensitive, courageous, badass tendencies.”)  And she has a “presence” that doesn’t require talking!  As for this business of her forming views “from a place of genuine honesty and kindness for others”, give us a fucking break.

As I’ve previously noted, Bush isn’t above name-calling.  She just doesn’t like being called names herself.  And forget about challenging her on any of her political bullshit.  When you do, you’re a “petulant child” who needs to “grow up”.

Regarding “red flags” she used to “ignore”, where is her public outrage for Obama’s once secretive global mass surveillance state, his constant droning of innocent Muslims, his endless persecution of whistleblowers & journalists, his torturing of mostly innocent Gitmo detainees, his continued support for oil & gas drilling, his heartless record-setting deportation of mostly harmless Latinos, his protection of CIA torturers, military war criminals & Wall Street crooks?  It’s nowhere to be found.

Bush’s problem isn’t that she used to be a people pleaser who refused to be assertive, it’s that she’s a moral coward who refuses to hold her own “hilarious” President accountable, both then and now.

In a terrific commentary for the Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer writes about the startling transformation of human rights activists like Bush in the Obama era:

“Now, several decades after the human rights movement traded its outsider status for influence in Washington, it is clear that this has produced negative as well as positive results. The movement has become a global behemoth. Sometimes it functions as a handmaiden to the power it was once dedicated to combating.

The most appalling result of this process in the United States is that some human rights activists now regularly call for using force to resolve the world’s problems. At one time, ‘human rights’ implied opposition to war. Now some of the most outspoken warmongers in Washington are self-proclaimed human rights advocates.”

Sophia Bush is one of them.  For 2 years now, she has supported the ongoing military mission to capture Ugandan LRA leader Joseph Kony, the man who was the subject of Invisible Children’s controversial Kony 2012 video.  In 2011, she defended the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.  Regarding the murder of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi that same year, on WhoSay she channelled noted political expert Keanu Reeves when she wrote, “Whoa.  Heavy.”  The country has since deteriorated since Obama’s unauthorized American invasion which Bush never talks about.  Her silence speaks volumes.

As Kinser observes in the Globe, “This is a radical development in the history of the human rights movement.  Once it was generals, defense contractors, and chest-thumping politicians who saw war as the best solution to global problems.  Now human rights activists play that role.  Some seem to have given up on diplomacy and statecraft.  Instead they promote the steady militarization of American foreign policy.”

I don’t remember Martin Luther King Jr. supporting America’s assassination policies or kissing the military’s ass.  Nor do I remember him remaining silent during a Democratic Presidency.  In fact, despite the anger it would cause within the civil rights movement itself, he publicly came out against the Vietnam War in a famous 1967 speech declaring, “America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” a statement that remains true in 2014.  Has “human rights activist” Sophia Bush said anything remotely similar about Obama’s treasured inheritance and institutionalizing of Bush/Cheney’s ruthlessly tactical War On Terror?  Has she complained to her hero in person about the unforeseen dangers of weaponized drones like 16-year-old education activist Malala Youzasfai did herself when she visited the President in the White House?  Of course not.  She’s too busy laughing at his jokes at annual White House Correspondents Dinners.

“The world needs fearless truth-tellers, ” writes Kinzer.  “Some human rights advocates are.  Others have succumbed to the temptations of power.  Their movement is in danger of losing its way.”

Sophia Bush lost hers the moment Barack Obama was sworn into office.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
2:00 a.m.

Published in: on May 27, 2014 at 2:00 am  Comments (1)  

We Men Are The Problem, Not Women

When we men create and maintain an environment of sexual hostility to the point where women fear what we might do to them, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men turn a business situation with a woman into an inappropriate attempt at getting sex they are not interested in having with us, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men don’t respect women’s boundaries, when we treat “no” as a challenge & not as a firm rejection of our undesired advances, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men don’t take female victims of rape & violence seriously and go out of our way to protect perpetrators instead, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men condemn women for their sexuality, whether they’re straight, gay, trans or bi, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men refuse to accept that women are our equals in our personal & professional lives, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men demand sex from disinterested women in any social situation & resort to vicious name-calling and/or violence when we’re refused, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men pretend that women somehow threaten our rights for wanting equality & respect in all aspects of their daily lives, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men only see women for their sexuality and not also for their intelligence, grace, humour, resilience, ingenuity, integrity, kindness & compassion, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men dismiss good ideas & real safety concerns from women in the workplace, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men slut shame rape victims & make hurtful “jokes” at their traumatic expense, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men think we can “correct” lesbians by raping them, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men stay silent when we witness the disrespect of women, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men protect prominent men who rape because we love their cultural contributions, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men rape & murder transgender women because we find them “weird” & not “normal”, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men refuse to call an inquiry into the rapes, murders & disappearances of Aborginal women in Canada, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men demand women “smile” when we see them out in the street & then get mad when they don’t, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men tell women to shut up because they “talk too much”, even though we men are the ones who talk too much, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men make it impossible for female rape victims to seek justice by not thoroughly investigating their cases, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men refuse to check our bad behaviours towards women because there’s no real pressure to do so, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men send rape & death threats to women online for having opinions of their own, especially if they’re the opposite of ours, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men bully young women who do porn to commit suicide just because of their sexuality, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men condemn women for having more sex than us, even though this is a blatant double standard, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men make it impossible for women to say no when we corner them into satisfying our needs, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men force women into performing sexual acts or they’ll lose their jobs or professional standing in highly competitive fields, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men misrepresent feminism as a threat to our way of being, when it actually benefits us, too, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men tell women to arm themselves from rapists instead of telling men to stop raping women, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men tell our daughters to always be vigilant against men, but never our sons to not rape women, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men keep making excuses for the behaviour of sexists, mysogynists, harassers, rapists, beaters, carjackers, muggers & killers, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men don’t believe we require enthusiastic consent from a woman in order to make love to her, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men terrify and shame our female rape victims into suffocating silence so they don’t expose our crimes, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men tell women it’s their fault they’re harassed, groped & raped, when it’s clearly not, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men call other men “gay” for being kind & respectful towards women, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men terrify famous women like Sophia Bush into keeping a loaded gun nearby while they sleep in their own homes, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men stalk famous women like Lorde and Kate Middleton because we get paid for taking invasive photographs of them at their most vulnerable, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men consume such photos of famous women in magazines and on websites without considering the consequences of what we’re financially supporting, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men judge women for the sexual choices they make, even though we make the exact same ones ourselves, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men demand women cover up their bodies because we can’t handle our attraction to them and find them distracting, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men define our masculinity by the way we dehumanize women, and not by our acts of kindness and respect, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men can’t tell the difference between complimenting a woman and sexually harassing her, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men tell women to hate their bodies and themselves, and still expect them to have sex with us, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men get revenge on the women who dump us by slandering their good name & sharing their intimate photos with the online world in order to humiliate them, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men expect women to serve our every need like robotic slaves, we men are the problem, not women.

When we men only value women by how much we can pay for them to have sex with us, instead of connecting with them in honest, strong, loving relationships, we men are the problem, not women.

A woman should be able to live the way she wants without ever having to worry about the threat of us men.  But that’s not reality.  And it’s not their fault.

It’s ours.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, May 25, 2014
1:16 a.m.

UPDATE:  A commenter recently noted that women in the trans community don’t like to be referred to as transgendered.  They prefer trans or transgender.  So, having thought about it, I’ve decided to drop the “ed” from the 15th sentence so that “transgendered” now says “transgender”.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, January 3, 2015
4:47 p.m.

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 1:17 am  Comments (12)  

Three Past Examples Of Maureen Dowd Slut Shaming Monica Lewinsky

In her latest New York Times column, Maureen Dowd writes once again about Monica Lewinsky, the only reason she has a Pulitzer Prize.  In the piece, Dowd revisits an incident from 1998 when Lewinsky approached her at a Washington, D.C. restaurant.  President Clinton’s former mistress asked her why she was so mean to her in her columns.

Dowd doesn’t recount her reply.  That’s because it’s too embarrassing.

Back in the summer of 1998 when she first wrote about this moment, she noted that her response was simply, “I don’t know,” as she “shrugged, lamely.”  According to Dowd, Lewinsky “sashayed away, looking triumphant”.

Dowd tells a different story in 2014.

“Monica bristled with confidence when she talked to me, but then she retreated to the ladies’ room and had a meltdown on her cellphone with [crisis manager] Judy Smith…[now] a co-executive producer on Shonda Rhimes’s ‘Scandal,’…”

Did the judgmental Dowd follow her all the way into the can to get that “scoop”?  Smells like revisionist bullshit to me.

At any event, Lewinsky is back in the news because she’s written a piece for Vanity Fair.  Now 40, she is eager to do something positive with her terrible past mistake, namely be an advocate for those who have also been publicly slut shamed on the Internet.  (I would strongly recommend she contact Emily Linden of The UnSlut Project.)

And no one publicly slut shamed Lewinsky more than the awful Dowd.  Slate’s Amanda Hess offers several notable examples here.  Here are three she didn’t mention:

In a June 1999 column entitled The 16th Minute, Dowd snarked over Lewinsky’s plans to launch her own line of purses, totes & lipstick:

“For sheer cringe-worthiness, a Monica lipstick ad, focusing on those shiny pillow lips, would probably top a Bob Dole erectile dysfunction ad.”

Then she writes this:

“Given that Monica still doesn’t seem to appreciate the concept of a private life, much less that she was the occasion for a gross constitutional crisis, I suppose we should be grateful that she isn’t hustling her own line of lingerie ‘Made especially for you by MONICA.”’

Followed by this:

“The former intern would fit perfectly into the TV cosmos created by David E. Kelley, which features neurotic, boy-crazy women who use sexual wiles to get ahead.”

The Victorian snoot mentions Ally McBeal (“the female lawyers’ skirts come up and their hair comes down.”) and Snoops (“One of the detectives dresses like a hooker to blackmail a deadbeat dad into handing over his wallet.”)

In a May 1999 column entitled Leech Women In Love!, Dowd compared Lewinsky (and writer Joyce Maynard who had a secret affair with J.D. Salinger) to a fictional 1950s horror villain:

“Then there is the Gen-X Leech Woman, the indefatigably exhibitionistic Monica Lewinsky, who insists, all her alleged humiliation notwithstanding, on not going away.”

[snip]

“These two highly skilled predators keep trying to extract celebrity from old love affairs that were not only brief and puerile but sexually tortured. They want to gain immortality — and big bucks — by feeding off the detritus of their triste trysts with older, famous men.

If they were microscopic organisms, we would call them parasites. They are worse than social climbers. They are sexual climbers.”

Then she complains about Lewinsky complaining about the media’s sole obsession with her sexualized image:

“Monica got huffy on a recent publicity tour designed to drum up flagging sales of her book when interviewers had the temerity to ask about the book. As she hawked her affair, she took offense at the suggestion that it was all that is interesting about her. It is an essential characteristic of the Leech Woman to believe that she is independent, that she has a self beyond the self that preys. She is a cross between a vamp and a vampire who wants to be treated like a movie star.”

In a January 1998 column entitled Undercover Advisor, back when the affair was first reported, Dowd hoped Clinton “had sex with her.  Because the alternative explanation [regarding their frequent contacts] offered by Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer is far more disturbing.”

That alternative explanation being that Lewinsky was some kind of “policy advisor” who helped the President with important political decisions.  Oh my God.  The horror!

“White House officials must have been secretly relieved when the press assumed the May-December relationship was sexual. They figured Mr. Clinton could survive another sex scandal, but he could never weather a competence scandal.”

“The American people will only put up with so much. They would never stand for a 24-year-old running the country.”

By “They”, she clearly means herself.  In Dowd’s mind, being a mistress is less offensive than having a brain.  And being a mistress who refuses to be shamed into silence and who refuses to leave the spotlight is even more repugnant.

But lest we forget, it wasn’t Lewinsky’s choice to go public with all of this in the first place.  Thank her supposed friend, Linda Tripp, and the bloodthirsty Republicans for that.  And it also wasn’t her choice to be smeared and slandered by media professionals, feminists and politicians, all of whom should hang their heads in shame for their deplorable comments.

As Amanda Hess noted in Slate, Lewinsky hasn’t been able to move on from the affair because we won’t let her, no matter how hard she tries.  Bill Clinton survived his regrettable impeachment proceedings over it to finish his second term and today, like Jimmy Carter, has a better reputation now than he ever did as President.

How is this fair?  How can a married man who took advantage of a younger employee during a government shutdown and encouraged her to be fed to vindictive wolves like Maureen Dowd come out looking better than ever?  Why is it that the other woman is forever the other woman?

In her recent column, Dowd writes that she’s willing to take up Lewinsky’s offer to have a drink together.  If I was the former intern, I’d throw my drink in her face without saying a word and sashay away, feeling triumphant.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, May 8, 2014
3:44 a.m.

Published in: on May 8, 2014 at 3:45 am  Comments (1)  

Rob Ford (Song Parody)

(Sung to the tune of Iggy Pop’s I’m Bored.)

Rob Ford
He’s offensive to the Lord
He says Council’s full of hogs
He thinks Asians work like dogs
Rob Ford

He warns your wife she might get raped
He never knows he’s being taped
Rob Ford
Don’t mind the vomit on the floor

Thugs and dealers are his bros
He can’t wait to put it up his nose
Rob Ford
Rob Ford
I think it’s time to pull the cord

He’s sick
He’s been acting like a dick
He’s always getting drunk
His mind is in a funk
Rob Ford

He’ll run you down when you’re in the way
He thinks Trudeau is really gay
Rob Ford
Oh Lord
Why’s this asshole so adored?

Hey dollface, he wants to eat your box!

He’s sick
He’s an irritating prick
He’s always on the go
He won’t give up the blow
He’s sick

He’s sick when he parties out at night
He’s still sick in the broad daylight
Rob Ford
Rob Ford
He’s Toronto Mayor Rob…
Ford

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
8:20 p.m.

Published in: on May 7, 2014 at 8:20 pm  Comments (1)  

9 Significant Stories Missing From The History Of WWE DVD

In 2013, the WWE turned 50.  To celebrate this milestone, the company issued The History Of WWE, a multi-disc home video release featuring a two-hour documentary about its colourful history.

While there are revealing moments (Sgt. Slaughter’s surprising encounter with President Nixon, to name just one), too much time is spent on excessive self-congratulation.

Even when it does focus on actual pro wrestling history, key facts are conveniently left out that would clearly alter the cleaned-up narrative.  And then there are the important moments that go completely unmentioned.  Here are nine notable examples of both:

1. Vince McMahon’s father abandoned him and his mother when he was a baby.

Early on in The History Of WWE, various wrestlers sing the praises of Vince McMahon Sr., the second generation promoter who took over his father’s Capitol Wrestling Corporation after “Jess” McMahon’s death in 1954.  Nine years later, it would be renamed the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

The hosannas for Vince Sr. come fast and furious.  He was a stand-up guy!  His word was his bond!  He operated on handshakes, not contracts!  He would smile and shake hands with the talent!  He would buy you dinner! 

Conveniently not mentioned is how he treated his own son, Vince Jr.  Shortly after his birth in 1945, Vince Sr. left his wife and took his eldest son, Rod, with him.  For the first 12 years of his life, Vince Jr. didn’t have any interaction with his own father.  Instead, he had a succession of stepfathers, one of whom he later claimed was abusive.  The abandoned mom and son even lived in a trailer at one point.

Just before he became a teenager, Vince Jr. finally met his dad and fell in love with professional wrestling.  When he expressed a desire to become a grappler himself, his father balked and told him that promoters don’t wrestle.  Hoping he would ultimately pick a different profession he sent him to military school where he made history becoming the first student to be unsuccessfully court-martialed.  When he came back, having just lost an announcer, Vince Sr. put his overeager son on TV in a role he would fulfill for almost 30 years.  Finally, in the early 80s, when he was dying of cancer, Vince Sr. handed the rights to his company over to his son.  If only he knew what he was planning to do with it.

2. The World Wide Wrestling Federation wasn’t always independent.

The documentary correctly notes that the WWWF left the NWA to become an independent territory in 1963.  What it doesn’t mention is that it would quietly return to the NWA in 1971 and stay with the company until 1983 when it departed for good.

3. Pedro Morales, the original “Mr. Everything”.

After “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff shocked WWWF fans by beating longtime champion Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship in 1971, he would quickly drop the title to Pedro Morales.  The popular Puerto Rican star would have a two-year run as champion until he lost to Stan “The Man” Stasiak in 1973.  (Interestingly, a month before this push, Morales won the United States Championship which he had to abandon after winning the WWWF belt.)

Morales would later win the WWF tag team titles with WWF Champion Bob Backlund after defeating The Wild Samoans at the final Showdown At Shea event in 1980.  (Of course, the titles were forfeited because Backlund couldn’t hold two belts at once.  Such a stupid rule.)  Finally, during this period, he was the first to have two InterContinental title reigns, the second of which lasted 14 months, a record at the time.

In the first 20 years of the WWE’s existence, he was the only man to win all available championships.  It’s why Gorilla Monsoon frequently called him “the former Mr. Everything”.

And yet, The History Of WWE makes absolutely no mention of him nor his accomplishments.  Showing just a quick shot of him is extremely inadequate and insulting to his great legacy and growing influence.

4. The overlooked history of Hulk Hogan’s early days.

As expected, the documentary notes the significance of Terry Bollea in transforming the WWF into a mainstream business by being a larger-than-life babyface.  However, it leaves out a lot of important details of his early history.

After two years working for other territories (the DVD does quickly mention his territory work quickly without specifics), Bollea started working for the WWF as a villain in 1979.  Vince McMahon Sr. helped improve his name.  Once billed as Terry “The Hulk” Bollea, the promoter wanted him to have an Irish surname, so he selected Hogan.  (He also wanted him to dye his hair red but that was rightly rejected.)  The History Of WWE mentions Bollea’s appearance in Rocky III.  What it doesn’t mention is that Vince Sr. greatly disapproved.  In fact, he fired Bollea over it.  He didn’t want a movie star as his champion.

After 2 years as a popular babyface in the AWA (the doc does mention his presence there), Bollea was lured back to the WWF, thanks to Vince Jr. who actually wanted a champion with crossover appeal.  Minus a short archival shot during his early WWF days, the documentary completely ignores his villainous origin altogether.

5. The Wrestling Album is skipped over.

Music played a major role in the evolution of the WWE.  Sgt. Slaughter tells an interesting story about how he convinced Vince McMahon Sr. to hire him in 1979 by having him play a cassette tape he had of the Marine Corps. hymn that became his first entrance music.  Afterwards, Slaughter claims that the promoter told him his character was the best he’d ever seen.  He hired him on the spot.

Unsurprisingly, the Rock N Wrestling Connection is covered (albeit briefly) and there’s even a quick remembrance of Piledriver, the second wrestling album.  But where’s the love for the original Wrestling Album from 1985?  Strangely, it goes completely unmentioned.

This is odd because it started the whole in-house entrance music factory long overseen by Jim Johnston.  The most notable track from the record, Rick Derringer’s Real American, originally conceived for Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo, became Hulk Hogan’s theme song for almost a decade.  (The ultimately rejected Hulk Hogan’s Theme from that same album is best known for being the theme song for the Hulk Hogan’s Rock N Wrestling cartoon series.)  Prior to the tunes written and recorded by Johnston and occasional outside musicians like Motorhead, wrestlers used existing pop songs like Eye Of The Tiger (Hogan), Born In The USA (Windham & Rotundo) and Another One Bites The Dust (Junkyard Dog).  Up until recently, CM Punk was the only talent who never used an original track from the WWE music factory.

In the old days of wrestling, it stood out when performers had entrance music like Gorgeous George’s use of Pomp & Circumstance (later used by Randy Savage).  Today, it feels weird when they come out to silence.  That’s the legacy of The Wrestling Album.

6. The 1996 MSG Curtain Call precipitating the end of kayfabe and expediting the rise of Steve Austin.

True, this business-altering incident is discussed in detail on Triple H’s Thy Kingdom Come DVD, but considering its undeniable impact on the pro wrestling business generally and the WWE specifically, it wouldn’t have hurt to throw in a quick recap on The History Of WWE.

At the end of a steel cage match at a May 1996 house show at Madison Square Garden, Kevin Nash and Triple H broke character to embrace their real-life friends, Shawn Michaels and Scott Hall, a longtime no-no in the business.  (Someone captured the moment on a crappy cellphone video.)  Hall & Nash were WCW-bound (which is mentioned) and main eventer HBK was untouchable.  H, the young heel on the totem pole, was the only one who got punished.  His scheduled push at the 1996 King Of The Ring was scrapped.  His replacement:  Stone Cold Steve Austin whose brilliant “Austin 3:16” promo following his triumph at the event became a pivotal turning point for himself and ultimately the WWE.

Despite the supposed controversy of the gesture, it marked the beginning of the end of old-school kayfabe, the unwritten code that prevented wrestlers and promoters from revealing the mostly fictional nature of their characters and storylines, something that would be blown wide open with the aftermath of the 1997 Survivor Series (which actually is covered on the disc).

7. No mention of XFL nor the WBF.

The History Of WWE goes out of its way to highlight the company’s various business successes over the years (monthly pay-per-views, TV revenue, crossover merch, its book division, its 1999 Wall Street IPO) while steadfastly avoiding its most notable failures.

It would’ve been nice to learn more about the shortlived World Bodybuilding Federation and the disastrous XFL, the overhyped football league that didn’t even last a year.  (The WBF lasted two.)  Both ventures proved that Vince McMahon Jr. should stick to wrestling.

8. The erasing of Chris Benoit.

I get it.  It’s the proverbial elephant in the room that the WWE is unwilling to acknowledge here.  It’s a difficult subject to bring up in the midst of all this shameless self-canonization.  But there’s a way to discuss it in a sensitive, honest manner that would actually enhance this documentary and not detract from it.

In 2007, when Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son, then killed himself, the tragedy rocked the entire wrestling world.  Coming just a year after Eddie Guerrero’s death (despite the implementation of The Wellness Policy (curiously not talked about on the DVD) which immediately followed), it jolted the business like never before.  Since then, there have been far fewer premature deaths of talent, thanks to the company’s top-notch medical staff, its generous drug rehab policy and the WP’s three-strike system for the current roster.  If The History Of WWE is willing to talk about Owen Hart’s accidental death (without acknowledging his angry widow’s many lawsuits against them), why couldn’t it address this?

I mean it’s ridiculous to have Randy Orton discuss his first World title push at SummerSlam 2004 without mentioning (or showing, for that matter) that the man he beat for it was Benoit.

9. The off-and-on legal fight with the World Wildlife Fund.

Perhaps this was done to avoid being dragged into court again but it seems odd that the DVD doesn’t mention why the company had to change its name from the World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment.  (It also doesn’t mention why all the other names (Global Wrestling Corporation and World Wide Wrestling Federation) were changed, either.)

For years, the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental charity, has complained before judges on more than one occasion about McMahon’s use of the WWF acronym.  In the Spring of 2002, they officially replaced their WWF logo with an underlined, crudely drawn W.  Unfortunately, because of an arrangement with the Wildlife people, this also meant silencing the F in commentary & promos and blurring the Attitude Era logo from archival footage which was always incredibly annoying.

Thankfully, thanks to an new agreement in 2012, the silencing and blurring is no more.  It would’ve been nice to have more insight scoop on this in the documentary.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, May 4, 2014
6:46 p.m.

CORRECTION:  Well, this is embarrassing. While discussing the MSG Curtain Call (#6), I accidentally wrote “Kevin Nash and Triple H broke character to embrace their real-life friends, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, a longtime no-no in the business.”  Obviously, they embraced Michaels and Scott Hall.  My apologies for the boo-boo.  The text has finally been corrected.  Yes, it took me three years to spot the error.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
1:25 a.m.

Published in: on May 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm  Comments (1)