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Are you ready to rumble? The Smithsonian vs. WWE

December 10, 2010 |  1:34 pm

Canadian pro wrestler Edge at Staples Center Allen J. Schaben Los Angeles Times The New York-based Catholic League, a self-described civil rights organization that led the fight to censor an exhibition at Washington's National Portrait Gallery late last month, changed tactics this week. Originally objecting to a video that league President William Donohue described as "anti-Christian," the organization now says that museums should have all federal funding pulled because they cater to the affluent and well-educated, rather than to the working class.

Yes, class warfare.

Donohue's earlier claims about the art exhibition at the Smithsonian's museum have been variously debunked, denounced, proven false and shown to be a case of manufactured outrage. They have also led museums and galleries across the United States and in Europe to hurriedly display the censored video, which is also widely available on the Internet, bringing it to a huge public.

Do the new class-warfare charges hold water? Not even close.

Here is the relevant portion of the Catholic League press release, headed "Funding Museums Is Class Discrimination":

"In a large survey of museum-going households released in April, it was found that they are significantly better educated and affluent than the U.S. population; they are also overwhelmingly white. The time has come, then, to stop funding the leisure of rich white people: all public monies for the arts should cease. Quite frankly, to make the working class pay for the leisure of the rich amounts to class discrimination. In the spirit of social justice, a better case could be made to fund professional wrestling—it's what the working class enjoy."

The source of the data is not identified. But, like earlier claims, it too turns out to be false. Attendance at Smithsonian museums is 15 times larger than attendance at World Wrestling Entertainment shows.

According to a spokesman for WWE, the largest corporation in the pro wrestling field, attendance at 342 live events in 2009 (74 of them international) totaled just over 2 million. During the same time period the Smithsonian, which oversees 19 facilities, had attendance of 30 million.

The cost for museum visitors was far less too: Most Smithsonian museums, including the National Portrait Gallery, are free to the public. Tickets for WWE shows range from $15 to $70, depending on the venue and seating.

--Christopher Knight


Photo: Canadian wrestler Edge at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times


Marsden Hartley Painting No. 47, Berlin 1914-15 recit AP NPG Art museum directors issue stern Smithsonian rebuke

Is the censored Wojnarowicz video really 'anti-Christian'?

Art review: 'Imagining the Past in France: 1250-1500' at the Getty

Comments () | Archives (6)

I work 40-hours a week at a blue-collar job.

I like museums and consider myself "well-educated".

Please continue to fund them.

Culture Wars, culture wars, culture wars!.

I find it obscene... the current wave of insolvency in the arts... Moca whitewashing a politically charged mural, conservatives angered at their ignorance, and Colbert's sarcasm...

Thank you for your writing as I find this the only good writing outlet in LA to cover this story...

This is awesome. The far right is digging its own grave. Their latest diatribe of ignorance and stupidity is only going to piss off and galvanize the legions of non-elite people who work in museum outreach and education, tirelessly providing creative programming for children in public schools, at-risk youth, and other non-affluent types. Not to mention the countless families of every class who go to places like LACMA and the Getty on Sundays just because it's a great place to hang out with your kids--safe, educational, and fun. Unlike say, your typical WWF tournament. Wow... keep it up, Catholic League. We could not script your demise any better than you are doing it for yourselves.

I challenge Christopher Knight to a wrestling match! Loser leave town. Donald Frazell can referee!

Better be nice. Mixed Martial Arts has a program about beating up bullies, who do so to a huge percentage of kids, not just artistes. They are on your side if you act like decent human being, not using some other idiots to act the same doesn't fly. And young girls are by far the most abused in the world, broken families have brought in non bloods and even biological incest. The OC the incest capital of the country.Where is that truly alarming outcry? Almost half the women i have ever dated have been molested, yet nothing from you art types. Pretty minority women especially are vulnerable, and it is n the MILLIONS, not an isolated case here and there. Even racism pales in comparison.

And Colbert is the ultimate in Dada, it fails in art as shallow and self absorbed, and even literature, but comedy the true way to point out the absurdities in life. And none better than Jon Stewart, Colbert, and Tosh.0. Who just happens to be gay, or is he? mmmm

Save the spiritual Watts Towers, destroy all the rotten and decadent Ivories.

I will take you up on that. And also, you gotta understand, most WWE types are hero vs villains, supermen who stand up for the little guy. Start making alliances, and play nice, it just might pay off.

It must stop being Us vs Them. It takes two to tango, and idiots of both wings are making the rest of us nauseus when ther is work to be done. lets get to it. Art define who WE are. It binds, not splineters. That which breaks apart teh whole is anti art, and it has won teh day. for now.
Destroy the Bastilles of art, the bastions of the status quo, there is no creativity or humanity there.


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