Wrestling the Culture Wars: A Book Review of Tyrus’s <em>Nuff Said</em>

Nuff Said is the second book by Tyrus (George Murdoch), professional wrestling champion, actor, and witty regular on Gutfeld!, TV’s top-rated late night show. While his first book, 2022’s Just Tyrus: A Memoir, recounts his life story, this latest offers the 50-year-old biracial performer’s takes on many political controversies, cultural phenomena, and personal struggles.

The narrative is well organized with a chapter on each topic, and the dominant theme of libertarian conservative tough love is set with the book’s first words: “I dedicate this book to pain, loss, and failure, the three greatest teachers in life. You can’t win without them.” The author holds that so many of our problems are rooted in a victim mindset that refuses to recognize life is inherently difficult. This victim identity feeds self-pity and laziness, and “When you play the victim, you no longer have to accept responsibility.”

Tyrus’s ideal America recalls our Founding Fathers since he wants a nation of strong, self-made individuals living independently of government and all other forms of material and mental dependency. He calls America’s ultimate self-made man, Frederick Douglass, “my hero” and, like the great escaped slave and abolitionist leader, Tyrus wants a playing field providing opportunity where success is earned from personal merit through excellent performance. Nuff Said Tyrus Best Price: $10.50 Buy New $12.06 (as of 08:14 UTC - Details)

Tyrus’s own story fulfills the American dream by showing how a victim of severe, long-term physical and emotional abuse from a low-income broken home can still work hard and become super successful. Indeed, Nuff Said is most riveting when recounting the personal experiences that proved so formative for the author. Not only did his alcoholic, drug-addled dad brutalize him, but the young Tyrus witnessed the terror inflicted on his mother too. Alas, his parents’ breakup failed to provide much relief since his stepfather beat him as well.

Though Tyrus writes movingly of his mother trying to protect him, he also had to endure her regularly reminding him, “If only I got an abortion. What would my life be like, what choices could I make?” While still sympathetic, he notes her poor choices in men had awful long-term consequences.

Refusing to descend into a pity party, Tyrus instead reveals how rough experiences taught him invaluable lessons of survival, adaptability, ambition, determination, and self-discipline. Accordingly, the macho performer shares searing episodes of facing bullies, being brutalized by a policeman for no reason, and helping a girlfriend through an abortion. Recounting these traumatic ordeals, he is remarkably magnanimous, displaying a keen understanding of how everyone is a complex package deal operating under duress. To maintain one’s dignity amidst such struggles, learn from them, and not let bitterness poison you is mighty admirable.

His relief from such travails has been entertaining, whether as a class clown, actor, wrestler, or TV personality:

Being on stage has become an escape for me. Any hassles in life that I may be having
at the time completely disappear when I take that stage. Nobody can get me after [sic].
It’s the ultimate safety zone…. [F]or me, the Art [sic] of performing is the drug itself.
It’s what gets me high. It’s what gives me purpose. In a way, it’s what defines me.  

The veteran wrestler is especially perceptive on the cultural context of professional wrestling, which he stoutly defends, holding that “The performers in the ring are not just athletes, they’re actors, stunt performers, and storytellers.” He further contends that “pro wrestling isn’t just about the showmanship. It’s also a reflection of our society and our culture. Pro wrestling has always been a mirror that reflects the values, fears, and aspirations of the audience.” Tyrus sees this type of “spectacle” as a healthy “form of catharsis for audiences” and, “[i]n a world that seems increasingly divided,” a means to provide a “sense of community…. a space where people from all walks of life can come together and share a common love for this unique form of entertainment.” So “Women had All My Children [the long-running TV soap opera]. We had Saturday Night’s Main Event.”

Not surprisingly, Tyrus stands tall for traditional manhood, believing far too many American men have surrendered their responsibilities to leftist wokeism. He argues that “The beginning of participation awards in many ways represents the end of pure competition and success…. paving the road toward weakness and victimhood.” So “we are seeing a direct attack both on capitalism and alpha males.” In fact, “By stripping away the competitive nature, we are diluting and attacking the very fabric of what makes the United States so special.” Seeing men as the thin line protecting society from its most unpleasant duties, Tyrus asserts that “Everybody hates us, but we’re the ones who have to take out the trash,” and this is as it should be since:

If we don’t take accountability for our actions, we’re weak. We’re soft. We’re not real
men. And that’s everything. Somebody breaks into your house; you don’t look at the
woman. The man runs to the front door. He risks his life to save the lives of his wife
and children.

Similarly, “Biological male athletes invading women’s sports to compete with the obvious knowledge that they have a better chance of being successful is the most misogynistic, ‘toxic masculinity’ thing a man could do. Period.” For a convincing comparison, he notes that baseball superstars “Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will probably never wind up in the Hall of Fame” due to their using “human growth hormones and steroids to give themselves unfair advantages.”

The book’s critique of leftist assaults on American traditions is most perceptive when Tyrus showcases the left’s selfish motives and contradictions. Skewering DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) tokens like President Joe Biden’s incompetent press secretary, Karin Jean-Pierre, he notes that when she got the position, “the only thing she doesn’t talk about are her qualifications for the job,” preferring to cite her race, sexual orientation, immigrant status, and sex.

For Tyrus, the ex-college football player, competitive sports provide the model for a true meritocracy consistent with America’s core values of freedom and equality of opportunity:

When I was playing competitive sports, if someone was better, it didn’t matter what
skin color they had, they were going to play and I wasn’t. I’ve always loved that sports
doesn’t [sic] adhere to these woke philosophies about privilege and victimhood. If a coach
hates your guts, but you are a good player, you will play. Because if the team loses,
then the coach may lose his job.

His critiques of welfare, slave reparations, and other forms of “equity” recall arguments made by renowned black scholars Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams. Echoing the latter’s criticism of “poverty pimps,” Tyrus agrees that:

the welfare state is another big hustle whereby people who need help are used as
pawns by those in charge. The welfare system isn’t designed to help them succeed,
it is designed to make them become reliant on the government.

He sees the reparations movement as still “another big hustle” that “would also perpetuate a victim mentality and actually harm race relations.” Refusing to play the race card, he declares how “luckily, I was born in the United States, where you can go from zero to a hero.”

Tyrus excoriates all free money “because when you take handouts, you become dependent on whoever gave you that handout. Reparations would be just more welfare,” and “free money … corrupts people and makes them lazy and unmotivated.” Ironically, any folks accepting such effort-free handouts “are basically enslaving themselves to the people giving them the money. Earning it is always better.”

He also has the guts to proclaim “Black Lives Matter has nothing to do with Black people” but is one more “crooked charity” that “makes lots of money for its leaders and everyone is too scared to argue with them.” As proof, he notes how “They get money and what’s the first thing they do? They buy mansions, they buy planes, and they give all their relatives jobs.” In fact, we “never saw them rebuild a building that was burnt down [by BLM and Antifa rioters in 2020] with all the money they made or purchase laptop computers for all the children in the lower socioeconomic groups and schools.” Instead, BLM is:

only concerned that Black lives matter as long as it’s at the hands of a white cop or
a white person doing something bad to a Black person. It’s about making money. Lots
of it. Because rich virtue-signaling white people will cut checks to clear their conscience.
There’s no money in Black-on-Black crime.

A common theme of the book is Tyrus’s lament that “we let feelings instead of facts dictate the conversation.” For example, instead of lovingly encouraging obese loved ones to lose weight to avoid “an early grave,” too many folks “make excuses for being overweight” or even applaud being fat. But Tyrus argues that, “By far, the worst addiction in this country is to sugar.” As he sees it, there is a “food addiction” that “shares many similarities with drug and alcohol addiction in terms of brain reward pathways and behavioral patterns” like “cravings, loss of control, and compulsive consumption despite negative consequences.” Yet:

How many times do we hear, ‘It’s not going to hurt you, it’s just one slice of cake’?
Imagine a guy in rehab for crack. If someone said to him, ‘Take one hit, man. It’s
just one hit. It’s not going to kill you. Loosen up.’ What would we say?

Tyrus skewers the credibility of virtue-signaling movements by highlighting their hilarious hypocrisy and financial motive, as when he ridicules “the climate fanatics” who “travel the world holding climate summits” via “private jets” to warn us our energy use is overheating the planet. His view is that “It’s just scare tactics designed to raise money.” In fact, “They want to take down the oil companies because they want their money. It always comes down to money.” Proof you are a hustler is “when you start making demands on people and you are unwilling to give up any of your own elitist creature comforts.”

As a libertarian, Tyrus advocates free speech for all and delights in lampooning woke censors, such as when the “University of Southern California School of Social Work was removing the term ‘field’ from its curriculum because it may have racist connotations related to slavery.” So, he asks, “Will the word ‘cotton’ soon be deemed too racist? So we will not be able to say cotton candy? Or cotton swab? This slope isn’t just slippery, it’s steep, it’s unmarked, and it’s endless.”

Though strongly opinionated, Tyrus repeatedly seeks tolerance, compromise, and respect for all, pleading that we see the humanity in everyone to increase understanding. This is particularly apparent in his very personal and moving discussion of abortion when he maintains that, rather than shouting our beliefs at the woman considering an abortion, “maybe we back up and say, ‘I’m sorry you had to be in this situation. Whatever happened, how can I help?’ Where’s the civility? That’s essentially what is missing with the whole abortion thing.”

Tyrus is also refreshingly humble and grateful, repeatedly acknowledging his own foibles, thanking the reader for reading his work, and urging that we “always strive to listen to each other, respect each other, and maybe even learn a thing or two from each other.”

Throughout, the author has a conversational style that bluntly makes clear his views. While this makes for easy and usually enjoyable reading, it also leads to many of the book’s weaknesses. Perhaps I am biased being 62 and reared in a strict Christian home, but Nuff Said has far too much profanity. Rather than reinforce the author’s points, it gratuitously detracts from them. If it provided laughs like George Carlin or Richard Pryor, okay, but it does not.

Another serious flaw is that, despite most of the book being well written, there remain way too many grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, misspellings, and blatant typographical mistakes. It is shameful Tyrus did not have a better editor to prevent so many gaffes from marring such an engaging book. But the author is entirely at fault for all the many cliches and bland platitudes, such as when he advocates ending the Democrat-Republican duopoly but is devoid of alternatives.

Though his skillful and sometimes humorous use of logic, facts, and analogies is usually convincing, occasionally his case is weak, as when he pushes not just term limits for elected politicians, but even age limits “based on objective criteria, such as cognitive abilities, physical health, and mental agility.” This ignores the objective fact that, while 81-year-old President Biden has trouble speaking consecutive coherent sentences, 81-year-old Sir Paul McCartney still performs three-hour-plus concerts.

Though generally quite savvy, Tyrus can be naïve, like with immigration where he fails to see how Democrats will not solve the problem because they want record numbers of illegals here as cheap labor and welfare recipients firmly planted on the Democratic Party plantation.

Likewise, he comes across as breathtakingly innocent if he really believes that “behind the scenes at Fox News, we’re more than just colleagues – we’re a family.” If so, how come Fox fired – without warning — its top-rated “family” member, Tucker Carlson, who, despite Tyrus praising many other Fox colleagues, he somehow forgets to mention? The author undercuts his own TV “family” narrative when he later admits that “There’s no tenure in any of this. You’re only as good as your last show.” So what kind of “family” is that?

Yet, despite its disappointments, Nuff Said remains a mostly engrossing, persuasive, and fun reading experience. Tyrus is especially skilled at pronouncing basic truths that most folks are too scared to publicly affirm, as well as exposing the financial roots of so many virtue-signaling causes. He also shows how you can have strong views and nevertheless not just tolerate opposite opinions but call for open, respectful dialogue across our political divide. All this makes Nuff Said a positive addition to the public debate.