Slow piano music, medium close ups and quiet moments between father and son. The Ted DiBiase documentary, "The Price of Fame," has everything. Well, everything except a story worth telling.
When it comes to kayfabe, this is an act of autoinfanticide.
One of the greatest villains of the 1980s, and perhaps even of all time, is Ted DiBiase, who competed under the professional wrestling moniker of "The Million Dollar Man" as fiscal foil to Hulk Hogan, who was without question, the quintessential good guy, who fought for truth, justice and the American way.
Except he didn't.
Behind the scenes, Hulkster was steamroller, who did whatever he had to do to stay on top. If that meant burying half the roster, then so be it, but dammit, this was the Hulk Hogan show and everyone else was relegated to a cameo. I didn't know it then, but I know it now, thanks to his inability to bow out gracefully, coupled with an unprecedented level of access to personal information that has now become public.
If video killed the radio star, then the Internet killed, well, just about everyone else.
That includes DiBiase, who now has a documentary coming out produced by a pair of wrestling fans, as well as his own son, a former WWE talent with an aw-shucks personality and old-fashioned good looks. Unfortunately, junior was unable to replicate his father's success and judging by what I've seen in the trailer (see it here), that's probably a good thing.
Here's what to expect (via NorthJersey.com):
One night in 1992, he received a phone call from his wife telling him she knew about his drug use and infidelity. According to DiBiase, that was the night his world almost fell apart, and from that point on he brought it on himself to reform his lifestyle, save his marriage and return to his religious roots.
"The Price of Fame" co-directors Peter Ferriero Jr. and Anthony LaSalla, both professional wrestling fans, chose to document DiBiase as a way of showing a retired wrestler who has reached the high point of his life after he left the ring.
"I said 'I want to make a film based loosely on 'The Wrestler,' to show where the guys are now, because the film 'The Wrestler' kind of painted older wrestlers in a really bad place,'" Ferriero said. "I think as we go through his story today, you'll understand why we focused so much on Ted. He's just a great guy."
As A.J. Benza used to remind us, fame is a bitch.
I've accepted that we can't go back in time, or perhaps ask for a mulligan when it comes to the days of kayfabe past. What happens in the private lives of entertainers, including the many screw ups of WWE superstars, is big business for this generation. There is a reason websites like this exist.
It's the same reason people tune in to watch Total Divas.
That's an occupational hazard for talent these days and I think most fans, myself included, are willing to meet them halfway. We're interested in Phillip Brooks, but we're paying to see CM Punk. Besides, we know wrestlers are full of bologna inside the ring, but we're all here to have fun, so get on with it.
Just leave my generation alone.
Over time, the ability to air the dirty laundry of anyone with a "name" -- simply because we can -- has gone deeper and deeper into the past. And the tragic part is, most superstars do all the heavy lifting. Just do a random search of "Warrior blogs" for an example.
But I guess a video of Jim Hellwig pumping iron while screaming at pictures of Terry Bollea beats watching zombies like Jake Roberts and Scott Hall slur their way through hot yoga. I want to preserve my memories of these entertainers, who were instrumental in bringing me so much joy as a kid.
But now I watch tape of old matches and all I can do is remember how effed up the industry was, rather than how much fun I had. Just thinking about Miss Elizabeth -- who was everything I thought I wanted a woman to be -- gives me the chills, especially knowing how she ended up.
Now DiBiase wants to join that less-than-illustrious group.
To be fair, he's not guilty of anything that egregious, all things considered. Adultery? Substance abuse? Pfffft, that's like half the country. But that's exactly my point. Do we need a tell-all documentary about how the "man" spent a "million dollars" on hookers and blow?
I suspect this film -- pushed by Teddy Jr. -- is more of a tribute to his mom, who was selfless in her decision to stick through it, raise her kids and forgive her husband, who turns out was a real jerk, just like most entertainers when they hit it big and make a lot of money.
Either that, or it's a subtle infomercial for finding Jesus.
It's his family's story to tell and I suppose they have a right to do whatever they want with their brand, including tarnish it. As a longtime fan, I think it's a disservice to the people who cheered (or jeered) for DiBiase back in the good old days, because we supported the character, not the man behind the proverbial mask.
A documentary about the rise and fall of "The Million Dollar Man?"
Now that I would watch, even if it had some of that personal stuff sprinkled in. If not, then I'm not really interested in his public confession when it comes to adultery, or his map of the highway to heaven. Both are admirable, no question, and I don't begrudge him for either.
At the same time, I'm not sure I ready to applaud.
What DiBiase did inside the ring is a story worth telling. What he did outside of it, not so much. I know some fans will eat it up, simply because it has a "name" attached to it, but I for one, would much rather hear about the creative process behind his classic vignettes, or who worked stiff and which fan was the craziest.
I'd pay for that.
As for the other stuff? Well, let's just say not everyone has a price.