My letter I sent to AT&T/Cingular and Subway

Dear AT&T and Subway,

I write to you jointly because I am currently a regular customer of both of your companies and I also read that both of you have recently joined sponsorships with World Wrestling Entertainment.

I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was a kid – more than 15 years now – but these last few weeks have finally turned me off so much that I’m calling it quits with WWE’s programming.

FIrst off, Vince McMahon and others have been referring to Mark Henry – an African American man – as a gorilla. Maybe it’s different in the South where McMahon grew up, but where I come from, calling a black man an ape is pretty racist.

Then there was last week, when Vince McMahon was supposedly killed in an explosion. I don’t mind “death” storylines on their own, as they have the potential to be interesting. What I did mind was the follow-up – the way in which they portrayed Vince McMahon’s “fake” death in exactly the same way they portrayed the real deaths of Eddie Guerrero, Owen Hart and the 9/11 victims over the past 8 years – 10-bell mid-ring salutes, wrestlers acting “out of character,” tearful speeches, saying “The show must go on” (like they did the night Owen Hart died live on their program), etc.

Maybe to them, portraying this storyline death in the same way as the real deaths adds gravity to the drama…except in other places, they’re playing it totally tongue-in-cheek, including daughter Stephanie McMahon’s cheesy over-acting. Maybe to WWE, mocking the deaths of wrestlers who died under their watch or the deaths of 3000 Americans on September 11th is somehow funny or ripe for satire. I think it’s pretty disgusting.

WWE has been growing more and more tasteless the past few years, with their “terrorist” characters, wrestlers having sex with corpses, and so on, but combining this blatant racism with the exploitation of the real deaths of their employees and innocent civilians is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

If this is what they consider to be entertainment, I’m more than happy to finally turn the channel. And if this is the type of trash you want your company to be associated with, I’ve got plenty of other options.

So in a few months, when my plan expires, I’ll be happy to leave Cingular / AT&T for another service, knowing that this is the type of “entertainment” they want to use for their promotion. There’s no shortage of sandwich shops that I can turn to now that I’ll no longer be eating at Subway.

Best of luck to your companies. I hope you enjoy the business of all those folks who don’t mind making fun of minorities and dead people for a quick, easy buck.

Neal Obermeyer
Omaha, NE

2 Responses to “My letter I sent to AT&T/Cingular and Subway”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I completely disagree with your comments, I just started reading this blog and will now stop because of this post. It is a TV show for gods sake. The story lines are meant to entertain not be taken seriously as you are doing. Good Day!

  2. neal Says:

    So what you’re saying is it’s okay to be racist and exploit people’s deaths if it’s meant to entertain?

    I posted this elsewhere:

    Let’s say that Saturday Night Live did this tasteful tribute to Phil Hartman after he was killed. Let’s say the actors all gave passionate speeches about him, shed tears, and appeared on-camera not as characters in a sketch, but as people who knew Phil Hartman.

    One could criticize SNL, saying they exploited Phil’s death for ratings, shouldn’t have run a show about it, etc., but one could also say they used the format they’re given to honor the man.

    Now let’s say that Chris Parnell gets this crazy idea that he’s going to fake his death for the purposes of a comedy skit on SNL. That on its own, while probably dumb and not funny, is not inherently wrong or distasteful.

    But then let’s say they dedicate an episode of SNL to memories of Chris Parnell, emulating precisely the format they used for the Phil Hartman tribute, including having the actors appear, with tears in their eyes, sharing memories of Chris. Not as characters, but as real people who knew Chris Parnell. This would all be for the purpose of furthering this comedy skit.

    Can you see what I’m saying now about how that exploits the death of Phil Hartman? Chris Parnell’s death skit may be one thing, but to draw its foundation from emulating the tribute to a real person’s death is disgusting.

    The analogy isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could come up with. But you can be sure that if SNL did that, there would be major repercussions within NBC.

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