Saturday, June 30, 2007

Over and Out

I'm so pissed off about this whole Chris Benoit thing, and in a number of ways.

I have to tell you up front that I hope the guy rots in Hell for what he's done. I do. Whatever mitigating circumstances there might be, there's no excuse for what he did. None. I don't care what kind of drugs he might have been on, there's no excuse for killing your kid, unless you've got testimony from at least two priests who will say that the child is the devil; and even then, they have to at least perform an exorcism or two before they can give up hope.

Anyway, I just got home from karaoke, and I'm watching the Nancy Grace show, despite the fact that I know Nancy Grace is the most abhorrent show on television; as believing half of the shit that the anchor of that show (generally Nancy Grace) says is tantamount to lobotomizing oneself with a spoon, watching six hours of Fox News Network, and then reading a Bill O'Reilly book. Anyway, I'm watching this broad substitute for Nancy Grace, and she does the job exceptionally well, except for the fact that she's a brunette, and her teeth aren't as blindingly white, and she's got Bret Hart on as a guest commentator.

Now, Bret Hart is a legend. I just have to say that. I've never liked the guy much, but I do recognize his prominence as a wrestler, as I will ultimately recognize Peyton Manning, despite the fact that he robbed my Bears of a Superbowl victory. Regardless, Bret Hart's been out of the game for a couple of years, and he certainly has no reason to defend Vince McMahon, and so he goes on the show to be some sort of voice of reason...

If there's one thing the Nancy Grace show frowns upon, it's reason. They prefer to jump to the simplest possible conclusion, or the second-simplest, if that one will provide better ratings than the simplest conclusion. Nancy Grace is a big fan of finding guilt where the authorities have not yet determined reasonable expectation for guilt to exist, almost as though she's the world's biggest fan of Occam's Razor. The problem is, the world doesn't necessarily exist like this.

Take the Benoit case for example: Guy kills his wife and kid, then kills himself. Steroids are found in his home, along with painkillers and other drugs, all of which the local sheriff whatever spokesman said were legitimately prescribed (this is Tuesday, mind you). Now, the Nancy Grace show hears the word "steroids" and immediately assumes they're being taken by Chris Benoit, without considering the fact that Benoit's kid had Fragile X Syndrome, which is a form of autism, one of the side-effects is an extremely low degree of muscle mass. We're not talking about "oh, the kid's a little underweight," we're talking about something along the lines of the kid beyond beyond the Nicole Richie degree of being thin. The kid's gone past being gaunt.

Okay, so I'm not trying to excuse Chris Benoit's actions; I'm just trying to understand them. So, if this big, beefy professional wrestler had a kid who needed constant attention and wasn't ever going to be a normal kid, never going to be a normal adult, who was going to require constant attention for the remainder of his life, the wrestler's going to think, "What the fuck happened?" Again, I don't excuse the guy. He certainly had enough of an opportunity to find some sort of support network (although I understand it's very difficult to find a support network for Fragile X), but he didn't want to be a spokesman for the syndrome, according to something I found on WWE's website. And I can partially understand his desire to keep his private life private, but I still have to think that he was in a unique position to be a hero to a lot of wrestling fans who might have children or other relatives with Fragile X or other forms of autism.

Two or three days after the discovery of the bodies of Benoit and his family, the Massachusetts Institute of Technolgy announced that they have been able to reverse the effects of Fragile X in mice. Maybe if the news had come out a week sooner, if it was the stress of his son's condition that caused Chris Benoit to kill his family and himself, maybe Benoit would have found the strength to hold on for a while longer. Granted, it's going to be years before this discovery hits human trials, but it's hope for a lot of people.

And if it wasn't his son's condition that drove Benoit to do it, maybe it was the drugs; and I'm not talking about steroids, here, because nothing in this case screams, "'Roid Rage!!!" No, the Bibles at the bedsides of the victims doesn't shout, "Yeah, I'm fuckin' batshit insane;" it's more along the lines of an act of contrition. Furthermore, these guys get knocked over the top rope every week, get body-slammed, suplexed, clotheslined, powerbombed, you name it. They're in a lot of pain after every match. If you think wrestling is fake, you're wrong. The wrestling is real; the outcome of the match is predetermined, but the wrestling is real. So maybe the guy was on a bad cocktail of pain-killing drugs.

Now, I don't know if they have one or several or none at all, but I would hope that the WWE would take this opportunity to enlist at least one, if not a permanent staff, of psychiatrists to keep track of these guys. Granted, the WWE probably isn't liable for Benoit's actions, but it's really in the best interest of the company to make sure that their employees are as sound of mind as they are of body.

I just find this whole situation tremendously sad for all parties. I find it sad for the extended family of Chris Benoit and his wife; I find it sad for the WWE corporation, because they're being burned at the stake right now, as much as Chris Benoit is; I find it sad for the fans who have taken down their posters of Chris Benoit because he's rotting in Hell as we speak; but I find it sad, most of all, for Daniel Benoit, whose only sin was being born with an unusual X-chromosome.

Anyway, back to Bret Hart. I'm not a fan, generally. Never have been. But the thing that drives me absolutely batshit insane about the Nancy Grace show is that any time that someone starts to make sense of a situation, particularly when that bit of sense runs against whatever sensationalistic angle the show happens to be running with, they cut the person off as soon as humanly possible, despite the fact that the commentator might actually be a legitimate source of actual information. So Bret Hart, wrestling legend, was pretty much limited to about thirty or so seconds of comment before being cut off for either a commercial or some schmuck who thinks this is all the result of 'Roid Rage.

Bret Hart, today, you are my hero. I only wish there were any channels out there that were actually devoted to finding truth, rather than just getting ratings. I loved the way they said under Bret Hart's name, "Close friend of Chris Benoit," when everything I've read said that Chris Benoit really didn't have any close friends. Clearly, being a fellow Canadian and professional wrestler is close enough for Headline News to deem "close friendship."

So, in closing, fuck you, Nancy Grace Show. Fuck you, your substitute hosts, your producers, your sponsors, and anyone at the corporate level involved with keeping your show alive.

On a lighter note, I wholeheartedly recommend dropping ninety-nine cents on the Chris Cornell cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." It is as good as you'd think it is, just from reading that sentence.

AIM: therbmcc71