We’ve seen a lot of celebrities and political figures get in on the anti-bullying action lately. Fort Worth’s own Joel Burns made a big splash. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made videos. So did folks like Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, financial expert Suze Orman, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt and comedian Margaret Cho. Singers like Gloria Estefan, Adam Lambert and Kesha made It Gets Better videos.
Even Kermit the Frog made a video for the It Gets Better project.
But today I saw something that really caught my attention. It’s an anti-bullying campaign from what I would consider a totally unlikely source: Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling’s new Eliminate the Hate campaign.
“Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling wants to put a headlock on bullying, an epidemic that has gripped the U.S. for decades, but has recently gained national attention this fall with its link to a number of teen suicides,” says TNA’s news release. The campaign will feature public service announcements during TNA programming, including its Thursday night line-up on Spike (TNA iMPACT! and ReAction). The spots will be placed on all other TNA Wrestling platforms, including the website , DVDs and all social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter.
“TNA is also working closely with the hit Sirius XM primetime show Derek & Romaine as well as other Sirius XM® programs, and with broadcast partner Spike, who will air the PSAs across their network,” the statement says.
“Everyone at TNA stands firmly behind this new anti-bullying campaign. The bullying must stop, and we want to take a stand,” said TNA’s chief marketing officer, Al Ovadia, himself a father of two. “There’s no place in our schools for bullying, be it based on a student’s looks, race, sexual orientation or anything else.”
And there’s more. The statement identifies several TNA stars who were bullied growing up, like Mr. Anderson and Kazarian. “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero says he was bullied when he was younger, but when he got to high school he “turned the tables” by protecting other children from bullies.
And reigning TNA world heavyweight champion Jeff Hardy kicked off the campaign with a videotaped appearance on The Talk, delivering a special message to 11-year-old Tyler Wilson, a TNA fan who was bullied because he was on a cheerleading squad and ended up with a broken arm. The message included an invitation to a taping of TNA Impact! and a backstage meet-and-greet with Hardy and other TNA stars.
Hardy told Wilson he was proud of him for standing up for himself and standing up to the bullies, and that in doing so he had become an inspiration to youngsters around the world. Hardy ended the message with this: “And remember, if the bullies have a problem with you, they have a problem with me.”
Ya know, there’s been a lot of talk in the last couple of years in North Texas about how the LGBT community is always preaching to the choir by having its rallies and parades and so on always in the gayborhood. The message, critics say, needs to get out there to the rest of the world. Well, I can’t think of any audience further from the gayborhood than the TNA Wrestling fans. And to have these wrestlers tell those fans that bullying is not OK will, hopefully, have a huge impact, on at least a few people who might not have paid any attention to what Tim Gunn or Kermit the Frog had to say.