*Televangelist, Bread and Circuses If you're one of those unfortunate people who can sit d
*Televangelist, Bread and Circuses
If you're one of those unfortunate people who can sit down
on Sunday afternoon, or late at night, and tolerate almost any
program that happens to come across your television screen,
whether it be the telephone auction or a weight loss seminar, you
may have already come to the conclusion that there isn't much
difference between televangelism and professional wrestling.
The similarity became obvious during the early days of the
PTL scandal, when most intelligent people found themselves
wondering, "is this real, or is it all just part of the act."
The startling revelation of Jimmy Swaggart's disgraceful
mortal sins has to be the most astonishing turn of events since
Andre the Giant became a villain. Swaggart was once the ultimate
fundamentalist, preaching out against the evils of our modern
society. Jimmy was always so frighteningly believable that
people who didn't believe in what he was preaching still took him
seriously because he seemed so committed to his cause -- however
fascistic it may have been. When Jimmy Swaggart turns out to be
an adulterer, you've got to start wondering what's going on. What
follows is a brief comparative list of a few of the many traits
televangelism and pro wrestling share. Coincidence, or more? You
be the judge.
1. Like pro wrestlers, evangelists are not nearly as scary as
the people who believe in them. Sure, Tammy Faye is
frightening, but we all know she's not real. The people
who send Tammy money for mascara are the frightening ones.
2. Despite claims to the contrary, there appear to be no
rules. Pro wrestling is the ultimate anything goes
sport. The referee affects the final outcome of the
match about as much as a pro football cheerleader might
influence the final score of the Super Bowl.
Evangelists heal people, stop hurricanes and claim God
is holding them hostage for $8 million ransom. There's
nothing to stop any of these people from testing the
outer limits of acceptable conduct in their professions.
3. Both have their own special languages. From body slams
and back sliders, to pile drivers and the rapture.
They even share some common jargon, like the classic,
but meaningless, phrase "believe you me."
4. Good guys are subject to become bad guys overnight,
without prior warning. According to this theory we can
expect to see the return of Jim and Tammy sometime in
the near future. As all wrestling fans know, once
you've changed from good to bad, the cycle isn't
complete unless you come back into favor before the end
of your career.
5. Both attract large T.V. audiences of non-believers who,
despite their doubts, are still fascinated by the
unbelievable spectacle of the whole thing.
6. Long a part of wrestling, costumes and outlandish
outfits have become a recent fixture for many of the
more flamboyant televangelists. In fact, there are
even a few Tammy Faye clones around the country. It may
not be long before we see evangelists in those
ridiculous wrestling masks.
7. The participants are prone to becoming instant media
celebrities no matter what horrible events they may have
recently perpetrated. Breaking legs, embezzlement,
adultery -- it doesn't really matter. Regardless of
your past criminal record, success awaits you in these
8. Outlandish claims and lies. Treachery of the first
degree and slanderous name calling. It's all there in
abundance in both of these sports.
The ultimate proof, however, is that Oral Roberts, Jim
and Tammy, Jimmy Swaggart, and all the rest, wouldn't seem
out of place if they suddenly showed up as managers in the
World Wrestling Federation. Could we possible be witnessing
the strange plot development of the next Wrestlemania?
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank