Hana Kimura Deserved So Much Better

Hana Kimura Deserved So Much Better

Photo Credit: Getty Pictures

Connections are an essential backbone when it comes to human lifespans. We crave it. We can’t live without it. With connection, there are things like love and friendship. These are both instances that help our lives gain meaning and purpose. In the age of social distancing, digital connections are more apparent and vital than ever. Zoom, Facetime, Instagram Live - you name it. It’s all we have at the moment. A temporary substitution to being physically together again. I would bet any amount of money that everybody’s weekly screentime has gone through the roof since social distancing has started.

My friend, Cyrus who I do the War Report podcast with every week introduced me to Joshi wrestling - Stardom, in particular. I was able to watch wrestlers like Mayu Iwatani, Starlight Kid, and Konami. Then, there was Hana Kimura. She was different, eccentric, talented, and confident. If you’ve been watching wrestling for a while, you can just tell the performers who have ‘it’. I got to see her at the ROH/NJPW supershow in New York and Kimura was also apart of one of the first female matches in the Tokyo Dome since 2002. Her talents took her to amazing heights in a matter of months. Heights that would have surely multiplied over the course of her life.

Wrestling is a sport where many fans come together because they feel like outcasts. How many times has someone come up to you and said, “eww? You watch that fake stuff?” The Tokyo Cyber Squad was there to welcome them.

Their slogan literally is “Everyone Is Different. Everyone Is Good.”

Now, we have to talk about this bright, funny, and intelligent young lady who had her whole life ahead of her in the past tense. I can’t believe I’m even typing about her as someone who is no longer with us. All over a single incident in a reality TV show. Television is a temperamental business. You get the ratings, you get another season. Television shows get canceled and end often. Rinse and repeat. You’ll never get the person back. For someone who truly embodied the slogan she would say night after night, there was a small collection of people that outright rejected that.

Take a gander through any wrestler’s Twitter mentions or any celebrity for that matter. You will find some of the vilest comments ranging from critiques on their appearance, disapproval of their life choices, and in wrestling’s case; storylines. Which wrestlers rarely have control over, mind you. It’s like The Price Is Right where you would outbid someone to get the chance to win a prize. Sometimes, the loudest and the most What are we trying to win? Some retweets? A reaction? “Hey, please see me!” Why wake up, pour your cup of decaf coffee, and set out to ruin somebody else’s day?

One of Hana Kimura’s final tweets said, “Nearly 100 opinions every day. I couldn't deny that I was hurt.” “Oh, it’s just the internet.” Imagine signing on to Twitter - a place where conversing with people is encouraged and seeing messages on how people hate you. With depression, even the smallest minority of hate is amplified to the maximum level. Where the bullies used to be on the playground, they now meet you on a digital battlefield with profiles usually not in their own name or picture.

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are just that. Platforms. They are just empty easels without a canvas if humans don’t partake in them. We can rightfully call for these companies to help cultivate a more viable and accepting social media environment. There’s obviously work to be done. But just like flattening the curve, a lot of the necessary social distancing started with us. Maybe it’s time that we look within ourselves and question what colors we’re painting with. Are we going to keep resorting to lathering the color red with our paintbrushes?

I want to say that bullies are not the majority. I believe that the majority of people are loving and accepting. Some of the best people I know currently I’ve met through online interactions. I’ve learned a lot and will continue to. Words have real-life consequences. Disagreements and conflicts are going to happen. We aren’t going to always see eye to eye. However, we gain more from discussions than the modern-day virtual tomato throwing at the virtual town square of choice.

Yes, entertainers help us experience a whole range of emotions. They make us laugh, cry, make us think, or challenge us - but we are not of ownership of them. Like we are not in the ownership of each other. Today, we have access to celebrities more than ever before. Always remember that behind that simple profile is a living and breathing person. Depending on your living situation, you might be living alone during the pandemic. With a lot of things closed down and the looming threat of possibly getting someone sick, you come face to face with darkness on a daily basis. With wrestling shut down, Hana didn’t have the hard mats and the locker room to escape to or confide in.

This is a particularly heavy-hearted week in wrestling. We had to reopen the wound of the tragic death of Owen Hart. The wrestling community is mourning the untimely deaths of Shad Gaspard and Larry Czonka and now this. A bright future dimmed too soon. A mother has to bury her child. That should never happen. People are experiencing a level of collective grief the likes of which have never been seen. We are losing thousands of people daily to the coronavirus. This didn’t have to happen.

One reality show brought out so much vitriol and hate that it led to one bright star being put out way too soon. Use your words to nurture, to teach, and to comfort. Don’t use them as weapons. Everybody is fighting a battle that you cannot see.