Appeasement means to pacify or placate (someone) by acceding to their demands. The term is most popularly used to describe the political policies of the British governments of Prime Ministers Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain towards Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy way back during the build up to World War 2. The policy of appeasement post World War 2 became a popular political tactic to gather votes. Popular sentiments whether right or wrong have managed to twist the government’s arm into accepting their demands. Internationally too this policy has gained recognition with time and has evolved as a branch of the populist politics.
Since the inception of internet, people have started expecting similar standards from companies too. People have the option to voice their opinion at public platforms for or against companies and their policies. This has helped empower certain companies as now they can express themselves and their product the way they want to. However this has also resulted in some companies simply bowing down to certain sections of the society to get into the good books to increase their business. A popular example being the way social media giants blocking/censoring content in various countries to appease radical sections of certain cultures.
WWE has been one such company. The company has for a long time worked on recent trends and has hoped to capitalize on popular movements for momentary gains. Nothing wrong with it given that is the way entertainment business works. It is a creature which moves with time with the environment guiding it. Any kind of rigidity and you’ll be destroyed by it. However, one must know how to control a beast so that it doesn’t harm anyone. The pro-wrestling giant has simply failed to control the impact of trends and culture on its product and have bowed down to every single demand indiscriminately. This has resulted in moves which on paper sound empowering but look completely twisted in terms of execution.
Saudi Arabia and WWE
The Unites States has been on the receiving end of insane amounts of investments from the Saudis. Starting from the Silicon Valley to the entertainment industry, everyone has tasted the sweet share of investments from the Middle East. WWE was no different. The company was willing to go to any extent to get a piece of the pie. It included to go against it’s very new policy of giving women a chance.
When WWE decided to not have women competitors on the card they sent a very strong message that the company didn’t actually care about women empowerment. They also made it clear that for the right amount they were willing to bow down to religious radicals. As an organization which claims to influence people across age gaps this was a very shallow move.
For once people might actually try and understand WWE and why it tried to follow that path but the way the company approached the situation was problematic and that would be putting it politely. They expected people to be tolerant and tried to make it look that they were taking the higher morale ground by accepting Saudi’s terms. They not only validated the rigid cultural principles but they also passionately defended it.
Also a month before the crown jewel PPV was the infamous assassination of the Jamal Khashoggi. The WWE again seemed to defend their actions by calling it strictly a business decision. The move looked outright dirty on the company’s end and the absolute unapologetic approach the company took was outright tasteless.
The worst part of the entire fiasco was the unremorseful propaganda the event turned into. Doing an event in Saudi was actually all fine. However, throughout the event blasting it down in your commentary how the Saudi-Prince was a great man is not cool. It is wrong at multiple levels. Putting it simply would be: All Saudi asked was to bow down a little, WWE in return started crawling.
The business of Feminism
Feminism has taken over mainstream media business. Every company from every segment hopes to capitalize on the women empowerment angle to increase their business. However, WWE happens to be one of the few platforms where women got their push from the people. Back in 2015 the #GiveDivasAChance trended on various social media websites. The movement was so strong that the company was forced to acknowledge the terrible treatment of women. They promised to help.
So what should have been a journey of women to the mainstream with help by building strong characters became a desperate race to “the firsts”. Instead of building mainstream stars the company started forcing women matches down the audience using the prop “the first”. The first women Hell In A Cell Match, Money In the Bank, Royal Rumble and what not. A crucial phase of the feminism wave was lost in some of these “firsts”. In fact it looks as if the WWE was simply trying to please the masses by giving these women matches instead of actually caring about the project. Some like the “Natalya screw job” was outright ugly.
The feminism wave is strong but it has already started facing opposition. With the help of memes and in the comfort of anonymity, many have decided to run super-strong propaganda against feminism. Thus if the company doesn’t establish multiple strong women characters soon, people will simply lose interest in women wrestling. The universe will then conveniently blame the female superstars instead of accepting the fact that WWE simply was way too focused on making Stephanie McMahon look great that they simply forgot to build female stars. The propaganda has already started taking shape. On popular wrestling forums and groups strong voices against women wrestling are already shaping up. Having women main event WrestleMania didn’t help either simply because none of them had build strong characters, with the exception of Becky Lynch. If you disagree then answer this question honestly: what was the stronger movement leading to WrestleMania Kofi Mania or the women’s main event?
WWE is simply busy trying to please people instead of taking any solid actions. It has ended up like those political parties which promise one thing at one place and different at another and in the end do nothing but simply rack-up the votes and wait until the next elections. It is after a long time that the world as a whole has come together to uplift women in every section of the society. When WWE goes in for these wave moments they can either build something or leave a destructive scar.