“On the day I was born, the nurses all gathered ‘round, and they gazed in wide wonder, at the joy they had found.”
—”Bad to the Bone”, by George Thorogood.
It is easy to be supercilious towards professional wrestling. It can be described as a pseudo-homoerotic male soap opera that targets those of a lesser educational and intellectual sagacity. As for myself, I have loved it most of my life.
For all the farcical absurdity contained in this realm of entertainment, professional wrestling does have one redeeming factor. It segregates most people into two identifiable groups: faces and heels.
The faces are the good guys. They play to the crowd. They fight fair. They never back down from a challenge or a fight, no matter how long the odds or how unwinnable the situation may be. They are, effectively, stupid.
The heels are the bad guys. They insult the home city. They cheat every chance they get. They run from fights where they are outnumbered. They are uncompromisingly smarter.
And for all the distance many people like to put between their own intelligence and that which is embodied in the premise of professional wrestling, it is this bizarre form of entertainment that mirrors us.
In the era of lightning fast social media reactions we all have made the art of discernment a race. Something was either great or horrible…and we know it while it is happening. Good and bad are simplified in 140 characters. “This was great.” “That sucked.” Odd how so many run from wrestling when, in fact, we have caught up to it.
In politics, Republicans are the heels. They scare little kids as they walk down to the ring. They slap your popcorn out of your hand. They call you names. For years I have rolled my eyes as the GOP tried in vain to be loved. Never gonna happen. People do not vote for the GOP so that they can get a hug. When Dick Cheney shoots someone we nod our heads approvingly. That is what Dick Cheney is supposed to do!
In theory, the Democrats are the faces. They want to feed kids…unlike those mean ol’ Republicans! They want to help everyone. They are the common man’s champion. And like a good face, they are too stupid to know when they are fighting a lost cause.
I have explored these random generalizations and stereotypes many times in this column. In politics, it is often a path to victory to appeal to the lowest common denominator. That is why negative campaigning works so well. For all the lamentations about how no one likes negative political ads, they sure do seem to work. We do not vote for Candidate X because he is a good guy; we vote against Candidate Z because he is going to burn our home to the ground and kidnap our children! Faces and heels.
And this is where the conversation becomes personal to me.
Because of my rather blunt style, I believe that I am thought of as a bad guy. I rip Republicans and Democrats alike. I have been called an uncouth Mormon basher. I purportedly hate Utah. I hate everything, if what is said about me is true.
Even last week when I published a column where I called libertarians racist losers, I was hit more for my name-calling than for the facts I laid out. I understand that given how libertarians are the most humorless people in the world that I would get flak for what I wrote…but really, libertarians now take shots at me?
I am a good guy. No, really, stop laughing! No matter what those false police reports say about me, I am a great person. I love people. I love Utah people. I am Shiny Happy Harry.
But that is where the heel “turn” happens. When a face begs for the audience to love him and they withhold their love like a Dickensian authority figure, they have their feelings hurt. And that is when they pick up a chair and sneak attack their tag team partner.
This is my heel turn.
I am going to embrace my inner bad guy. No more cuddly columns where I talk about how great things are. My legendary optimism which permeates through every one of my weekly expositions will be eradicated from future offerings. Enough of the fluff. You guys will be treated every Thursday to a steaming hot bowl of snide cynicism.
I want you to boo me! I dare you to boo me!
Like all great heels, I will need a good entrance theme song. I was thinking about either George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone”, or Van Halen’s “Running With the Devil”, something that sets the proper tone to announce my arrival.
For the most part, this column was just a cheeky exercise. Over the past month quite a few conversations with close, dear friends have centered around me and how I am perceived by those around me. Just this Tuesday, after receiving news of a shocking rejection from an organization I belong to that should thank me for saving them from financial ruin, a friend of mine jokingly said, “They are tired of you and your east coast ways.”
Hilarious and unintentionally profound.
We all judge. Every single one of us. And for the most part we put things and people into the easiest camps we can divide them into: good and bad. As for my preference, if the choice is between being unknown or being hated, honestly, I would rather incur wrath than live in obscurity. I desperately want to be loved—just like anyone else. But if that does not happen than I am more than willing to play the bad guy.
I did not turn me into a heel. You did.