Sunday, March 21, 2010

Linda McMahon and the ‘Fatty Arbuckle Defense’

Kevin “Don’t Call Linda McMahon My Mouthpiece” Rennie has started tweaking his sychopancy for the U.S. Senate candidacy of the co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

A couple of months ago, Rennie analogized McMahon’s turns running pro wrestling to Ronald Reagan’s goofball role in Bedtime for Bonzo.

In his column in today’s Hartford Courant (“Rising Dissatisfaction Is Wind in McMahon’s Sails,” http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-rennie-mcmahon-blumenthal-po.artmar21,0,4028903.column), Rennie goes a little more passive with the business background of the woman whose company amassed the fortune bankrolling her $50 million campaign while “independent contractor” performers dropped dead by the bushel, and from time to time menaced others.

“Popular culture has always been a bit coarser than political leaders like to acknowledge,” Rennie writes.

Call it the Fatty Arbuckle defense. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was a silent film star whose career was ruined after an actress died at his 1921 Labor Day weekend party, and he was accused of raping and accidentally killing her.

One part of Linda McMahon’s narrative – a kind of companion piece to the tear-jerker about her and husband Vince’s 1970s bankruptcy – is the cocaine-fueled “party atmosphere” of the 1980s. Such excesses are all in the past, you see. That past presumably includes the 1983 death, with a more-than-Arbucklian fact base, of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s girlfriend. See “Muchnick Flashback: ‘Superstar Snuka and the Death of a Groupie,’” http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/muchnick-flashback-%E2%80%98superstar-snuka-and-the-death-of-a-groupie%E2%80%99/.

As for the “all in the past” part, see my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death. Chris and Nancy Benoit were the ninth and tenth of 21 pro wrestling personalities who died before age 50 in the year 2007 alone. (Their seven-year-old son Daniel doesn’t count.)

See you all at Border’s in Stamford on Thursday night and at Border’s in Farmington on Saturday afternoon.


Irv Muchnick