Tonight, tonight I ponder what Twilight Zone universe I’ve entered. Billy Corgan, of Smashing Pumpkins fame was announced as the Senior Producer of Creative Talent and Development over at TNA Impact Wrestling a week ago, and it’s taken some time to sink in. He did an interview for Variety in which he mentioned wanting to explore racial and transgender issues. Normally, I’d jump for joy knowing someone in a position of power was willing to subvert wrestling tropes and add greater depths and representation to the characters that are portrayed, but it comes at a hefty cost when the person in charge is a noted transphobe.
The words above, and the article linked, are just some of the problems that I fear we have to face coming from Corgan. It seems that everyone is focused on whether or not he has enough of a love for wrestling to do the job, but his knowledge and understanding of wrestling isn’t the problem considering he was the Creative Director for Resistance Pro Wrestling. It’s really trendy to centre storylines in media around trans issues, sexuality and gender politics, but the stories are being told by cisgender heterosexual people and they are making a quick buck off it. This reads as an advertising tactic or something used to draw in viewers for shock value, and shock isn’t the type of representation needed. As Billy states “Those social and cultural issues that are sort of a ‘don’t go there’ subject will result in themes that will feel more meaningful to current audiences”, I think this should be a don’t go there subject for him and he should stick to what he knows best: writing shitty angsty music that tell no one’s stories but his own.
There are opportunities abound for better representation, but a poorly researched exploitative approach is only going to worsen any positive momentum we have and send the big guns running back to what they are most familiar with. It won’t gain new audience members, but the lowest common denominator is the least frightening option at times.