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culture sports

Professional wrestling

I watched a pair of documentaries the other day. One was on the history of professional wrestling and the other was on heavy metal music. I think I’ll post something about what I saw as the link between them on my music blog… I’ve been thinking about what I saw with the wrestling one, and I think it may be a bit deeper than you may think.

Well, let me rephrase that, there is nothing about wrestling that is deep. I mean c’mon, what a bunch of tawdry, tacky, rowdy yahoos… No, there is nothing deep about wrestling, but maybe the link between it and what is considered “serious” TV might be.

When I was growing up, the big rap against professional wrestling (at least to a kid) was that it was “fake.” It had the veneer of a sports competition, but it was ridiculous. The punches, throws, locks, etc. were obviously fake, even for an 8 year old. The current organizers (the WWF and WCW) make no pretense of the event being a sporting competition. In their minds, it is pure entertainment, a show. The excitement is all in the struggle of good versus evil, or at least of favorites going up against hated opponents. In the eyes of fans and of promoters, it is nothing short of high drama.

Of course that drama takes the form of an incredibly violent struggle. They punch, throw, elbow, crush, and land on each other. Then there are the props. They hit each other with folding chairs, they throw each other out of the ring (often times crashing through a table for good effect), they throw each other into, onto, and out of chain link cages. Blood is not uncommon.

“Yeah, but what they do is difficult! Those moves are incredible!” It’s true, those guys are BIG. Hulk Hogan was something like 6’6″ and built. All those guys are enormous, but they fly through the air and execute complex choreography. They really are a combination of stuntman and acrobat. But they’re still using all of that physical prowess to make it look like two guys smacking each other around. It’s all about violence.

Don’t look down on pro wrestling just yet. After all, how different is that “fake” display of violence any different than any of the run of the mill “dramas” based around law enforcement/hit men/drug culture/terrorist fighting FBI agent? Seriously, why do the programs that blow stuff up, shoot people, find corpses, etc. get a free pass, hell, be acclaimed, while the guys pretending to punch each other get sneered at? “But the acting is more subtle, the characters are more developed, the plot is more realistic!” Please see my critique of wrestling above… All of that is done just to lead up to the shoot out or yelling/screaming bit. In other words, violence is usually the the prime reason for all of that acting and dialogue. Everything leads up to violence, everything is solved by violence, everything is caused by violence, it’s all the same to me.

When I was living with Rick, I would often come home and find him watching TV. It was usually “Law and Order” or some other crime drama. Seems like 3/4 of all of the dramas revolve around crime… I would take a look and then exclaim, “Oh, you’re watching ‘Good Guys/Bad Guys’ again…” No matter which show he was watching, it was just “Good Guys/Bad Guys” to me. The more I think about it, the more I see most dramas as just glorified wrestling matches. No wonder I dislike watching TV so much… Can you imagine everything reminding you of professional wrestling?:-)

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