What you have to understand, really, is that Real American
than just a song. It's a self-contained meme
, the anthem for an
of professional wrestling
(1984-1993), in which
ran wild and heroes could do no wrong. Even today, the
opening guitar strums will evoke strong emotions in anyone
wrestling in the 80s.
I feel strong about right and wrong
Unlike today, where the goal is to have wrestlers come across as "everymen",
in Hulk Hogan's era everything was larger than life. The good guys
were GOOD and never cheated, and they wore bright colorful outfits and
came down to the ring to upbeat, happy music. The bad guys were BAD,
BAD MEN; they dressed in drab reds and blacks, cheated outrageously at
every opportunity, and came down to ringside to screeching, painful tunes.
There were no shades of grey. It was David and Goliath, every
night, and David always won because he had to, because there
were twenty thousand screaming pre-adolescent Hulkamaniacs
in the audience who would cry themselves to sleep if the Giant
I am a real American
It was the Cold War, and Communism was vanquished at every available
opportunity. "Evil foreigners" like Ludvig Borga, the Iron Sheik,
Nikolai Volkoff, and the Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter came off
a specially crafted Bad Guy Assembly Line to evoke strong pro-USA sentiments
in the fans. They became Hogan's staple diet, being fed to him and
destroyed on a monthly basis. Hulk Hogan was good, Hulk Hogan was
pure, Hulk Hogan was everything that was right about America. He
wore red and yellow to the ring, but in later years he'd often come down
waving Old Glory around in case the point hadn't been driven home yet.
If you hurt my friends, then you hurt my pride
If for some odd reason an Evil Foreigner wasn't available at the moment,
there was really only one other way feuds with Hogan started--Hogan and
X are friends, X betrays Hogan, X beats up Hogan's friends, X beats up
Hogan, Hogan prevails over X in the end. It was simple, and very, very effective. Just look at what kids are taught from the time they're old enough to talk: Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't steal. Don't betray your friends. You put people on the screen doing all four, and they're instant Hitlers in the eyes of America's youth. Examples of this formula in action: Paul Orndorff (1985),
Andre the Giant (1987), Randy Savage (1989), the Ultimate Warrior (1990), and Sid Vicious (1992).
I got something deep inside of me/And courage is the thing that
keeps us free
This was the heart of the matter, no pun intended. The good
guys always won because they were better--they were strong, loyal, and
brave. They never quit because they couldn't--that
would be cowardly, not courageous. As weird as it sounds, an entire
decade of wrestling was based almost entirely around the rules of chivalry.
And then, in the mid '90s, something happened...everyone grew up.
People who cheered as kids for Hogan in the '80s were now post-adolescents
or in their twenties, and had long outgrown all that Good vs. Evil stuff.
People began to see Hogan and others like him for what they were--relics
of an earlier era, like old Saturday morning cartoons. It wasn't
about killing the commies anymore, it was about waking up at 6 AM and having
to deal with your shitty boss at your shitty job. And so, wrestling
underwent another makeover to imitate life--and the era of WWF Attitude