I feel strong about right and wrong
and I don’t take trouble for very long
I’ve got something deep inside of me
courage is the thing that keeps us free.
I am a real American,
Fight for the rights of every man
I am a real American
Fight for what’s right
Fight for your life.
– Real American by Rick Derringer
As a young child, I had two idols – Batman and Hulk Hogan. Both men wore colorful tights and defeated their foes with a combination of theatrics and physical skill. Both men seemed superhuman, even though they didn’t possess any super powers, and they always triumphed over evil, even when the odds against them were overwhelming and things looked bleak.
Obviously, the biggest difference between Hulk Hogan and Batman is that, while Hulk Hogan seemed cartoonish and larger than life on television, he was ultimately just a man – a man named Terry Bollea. So while Batman’s alterego Bruce Wayne only exists in the realm of fantasy, Hulk Hogan’s counterpart Terry Bollea is a real person. And, unlike Bruce Wayne, who always has a team of writers making sure that everything he does is noble and just, Terry Bollea is free to live his life however he sees fit – and these days, his lifestyle choices are not befitting of a man who was adored by every child of the 80s.
For most of my life, I knew very little about Terry Bollea’s private life. As a child, I just assumed that Hulk Hogan’s life outside of the ring consisted of him getting into wacky adventures like the ones depicted on his Saturday morning cartoon Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. It wasn’t until his VH1 reality show Hogan Knows Best that I learned about Terry Bollea’s personal life. Unfortunately, learning about the real man behind the larger than life character has only served to soil the reputation of my boyhood idol.
The reality show raised the profile of Hulk Hogan’s family – his wife Linda and their two children, Nick and Brooke (it’s been said that the entire goal of the show was to launch Brooke Hogan’s singing career). As a result, the entire Hogan (or Bollea) family has become tabloid fodder and Terry Bollea’s personal life has suddenly become more noteworthy than his Hulk Hogan persona (which these days can only be seen doing pointless, boring interviews on the revamped American Gladiators).
If Hulk Hogan lived up to the image I had of him as a child, his offscreen life would consist of saying his prayers, eating his vitamins and doing selfless acts of charity. Unfortunately, the two biggest stories to come out in the past year about Terry Bollea’s personal life involve infidelity and a near-fatal car accident.
Last August, Nick Hogan crashed his car while allegedly drag racing another teenager. The passenger in Nick’s car, John Graziano, suffered serious head trauma and now lives in a veteran’s hospital. Nick’s blood-alcohol level was reportedly elevated (he’s 17-years-old) and rumors that Hogan had supplied him with beer the night of the accident began to surface. Whether or not these allegations or true, it was disappointing to hear Hulk Hogan’s name tied to such a tragic event.
In November, Linda filed for divorce from the Hulkster. The two had been married for 24 years. It’s recently come to light that Terry Bollea was having an affair with 33-year-old Chritiane Plante. Plante was a friend of his daughter, Brooke (the affair, of course, crushed Brooke). It’s now being reported that Hogan wants to have a child with Plante, a son who will follow in his wrestling footsteps, since Nick has expressed no interest in stepping into a wrestling ring.
While I am long past my hero worship of Hulk Hogan (by my teenage years, Mick Foley replaced Hogan as my idol; Batman still kept his spot), it’s still disappointing to have this part of my childhood ruined. I looked up to the man – he showed the world that a guy in yellow tights and a bandana could overcome any obstacle with a flurry of punches, a big boot and a leg drop. A balding man with a ridiculous bleach blonde mustache was the coolest guy on the planet. He was someone that every young male wanted to be.
It’s disheartening to realize that the noble Hulk Hogan was nothing more than a character invented by Vince McMahon. It’s sad to be faced with the cold, hard truth that our heroes so rarely live up to our expectations of them. Like the day you find out your parents aren’t invincible, it’s hard to learn that your heroes are just people and that ultimately, those we look up to will probably let us down.
Luckily, I still have one hero who, despite Joel Schumacher best efforts, still remains unblemished in my eyes. Thanks Batman. I can’t wait to see you this summer in The Dark Knight.
Random Thought of the Week:
A 35-year-old woman in Kansas sat on a toilet for two years. Doctors had to surgically remove the toilet seat from her body because her skin had grown around it. Her boyfriend told reporters, “I should have gotten help for her sooner; I admit that. But after a while, you kind of get used to it.” Seriously? You kind of get used to it? I’m … I’m speechless.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.