Wrestling doll is inexcusable

Exponent-Telegram, Clarksburg, W.Va.

Sunday, November 14, 1999

Violence of any kind is intolerable and anything that remotely serves to promote it needs to be quelled, no matter how seemingly inconsequential. A case in point is a World Wrestling Federation doll that was recently pulled from shelves in Wal-Mart stores. The toy is modeled after Al Snow, a WWF competitor who carries a female mannequin's head into the ring as part of his act. "Help me" is scribbled across the forehead.

Complaints about the doll came from Sabrena Parton, an assistant professor of communications at Kennesaw State University, and from the manager of a Wal-Mart in Cartersville, Ga.

Parton had questioned what kind of message the toy sends to her two sons about the brutalization of women.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Bisio said the toy was "at least a questionable item" and for that reason he said the company had decided to remove Summer Slam '99: Road Rage Al Snow from the shelves, probably permanently.

Yet Jim Byrne, vice president of marketing for the WWF in Stamford, Conn., had the gall to defend the doll. "This is the first complaint we've had about the toy. Al Snow's act with the mannequin head is as silly as it gets -- loads of fun."

Well, the doll may be humorous to Byrne, but is hardly a laugher for people with any sense of decency. Frankly, we're surprised more people weren't upset about this crude toy, despite the immense popularity of wrestling. There is just no place for this kind of thing on store shelves. Wal-Mart evidently made the wise choice in yanking the item, even if it could end up costing the company extra money this Christmas season.

But a little sensitivity by the retailing giant probably will reap it extra good will from its customers. And that should negate any loss of income in the future....