Could The Darren Young Controversy Be A Well-Played Publicity Stunt?

Following the Seth Rollins fiasco yesterday, today the WWE Universe was shaken by yet another scandal.

WWE superstar Darren Young, who came out as gay in August 2013, was upset over the fact that the WWE’s running a series of live events in Abu Dhabi this week, which he’s not booked for, due to political issues. Apparently, Young found it morally wrong that the company works in a place where homosexuality is considered a crime, punishable by a jail sentence.

Darren Young tweeted out the following comment:

“Why do we bring the best entertainment into a country like abu dhabi and they look down upon women and gays? I get it! #MillionsofDollars

Later on, this tweet was deleted and Darren Young wrote a series of comments, which implied that he was forced to remove it against his will

Many superstars and fans offered support to Mr. No Days Off, while the WWE issued an official statement on the topic:

“WWE does not discriminate against individuals regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation, and we continue to proudly support Fred Rosser (aka WWE Superstar Darren Young) for being open about his sexuality.

Unfortunately, WWE cannot change cultures and laws around the world, and thus we did not send Fred Rosser to the United Arab Emirates for our upcoming events for his own protection.

WWE also fully supports Fred Rosser’s right to express his views on personal social media accounts rather than WWE’s corporate platforms.”

At first, the story got me pondering over questions regarding the illusory nature of freedom of speech. It’s not because we’re allowed to say whatever we want to that we won’t have to pay the consequences for doing so. It’s as simple as Newton’s third law of motion: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. No one really stops Darren Young from saying whatever he wants to, but if his opinion affects the WWE’s business relations, he must expect the repercussions that are coming to him. That’s what logic dictates. Whether it’s morally right, or not, is an entirely different question.

Philosophical digression aside, I kept thinking about the situation over and over again. I knew I was missing something. Then it came to me – Fight fire with fire.

Yesterday, I opened Twitter and a certain WWE-related name was the top trend worldwide. It stayed there, holding the top spot for the entire day and just wouldn’t go away. It was so bad that I almost expected to wake up to it still trending today. However, Twitter welcomed me with another WWE personality, hogging the top spot. I, as everybody else, obligingly followed the trend, read the news articles and started up discussions with my peers about it. Thus, the scandal that seemed impossible to forget yesterday, was swiftly erased from the public mind today.

It might be that being a journalist has made me too cynical and suspicious of everything that I see or hear on the media but I see a perfectly executed publicity stunt here. The timing of the second incident was way too convenient for it to be a coincidence.  It’s so simply and elegantly done that I can only admire the skills of the team that organized it.

I’m not saying, however, that Darren Young doesn’t feel genuinely upset over the policies in  the UAE. It must be hard to feel persecuted for loving someone, who is considered “wrong” by an entire society. My feeling about this situation is that the WWE PR team used Darren Young’s personal issues to make some noise and create a diversion. They were terribly successful at doing that, if I may add.

What’s your view on the situation? Share your thoughts in the comment section, on FB or Twitter!

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