Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Thursday, March 30, 2006


WWE and the Decline of Western Civilization


There have been “bad boy” protagonists throughout my lifetime whether it be rebels like James Dean or the nostalgic portrayal of Mafia gangsters. Arguably, despite being bad boys, there was something – a je ne sais quoi of sorts that caused some kind of adoration or sense that made us want to cheer for them. For example, who isn’t rooting for Clint Eastwood in “Escape from Alcatraz”, even though he is a super max inmate incarcerated for being nasty? I think we tend to romanticise – or at least Hollywood and numerous authors do – the old school bad guys.

When I was in roughly grade nine, I was just growing out of Wrestling as the WWF was just becoming popular. In those early days of the WWF, and certainly from the local Wrestling circuit I watched, there were good guys and bad guys. Just like in the old Westerns, the good guys followed the rules while fans booed the bad guys that were always cheating and showing disregard for the audience. When the WWF made the big time, stars like Hulk Hogan switched from good guy to bad and back to good numerous time, and the fans altered their cheers and boos accordingly, maintaining that you cheer for the guy in the white hat and heckle the cheater/dirty wrestler.

Then something changed. I don’t know when it was exactly, as I really didn’t follow wrestling beyond the age of 14 or so, but it was inevitable from the constant influence of media and conversational bombardment that I grew to know about guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin and his signature “finger”. Now, the cheering and jeering was no longer black and white as it was acceptable to cheer the cheat and dirty fighter (and yes, I know that it’s all fake – just work with my sociological analysis here!!!). Was this a signal of a profound social shift, or simply an enigma of the entertainment industry?

Shortly after the WWF (now WWE) became the massive spectacle that it is at present, I couldn’t help but notice similar shifts in other aspects of society. For example, games like Grand Theft Auto and other one-person shooter programmes often has the player as the bad guy who, inevitably, you cheer for whether it’s killing rival gang members, Police, breaking out of jail, etc. Add to this the whole genre of Gangsta Rap that has launched massive fashion and film industries and glorifying more often than not these thugs and ex-cons like 50 Cent. Look at movies like “The Longest Yard”, recently re-made as well as there being a British version where it’s the poor, woe begotten Inmates that the crowd cheers for over those nasty prison guards. As a Correctional Officer, I must say I get pretty sick of my profession being portrayed through the likes of the thugs on the silver screen and resent the fact that I risk my life every day for a society that would be singing a significantly different tune if I didn’t perform the duties that I have assumed. “Prison Break” is a popular programme that I’ve never seen, but from what I have heard, it sounds like again, Guards are evil cannon fodder.

Looking at this social phenomena, I think that we really need to be taking an active look at this as a society. So much of our world view is developed from the snapshots presented to us through a number of media outlets, and those who do not take the time to take a critical look at what is going on around us are easily sucked in. I never listened to mainstream pop in the 1980’s, yet when it’s played on the radio now I know all the words to most of the songs. That is a testament to the power of the media and subliminal consumer messaging that is taking place every day around us. Think about it. When studying for an exam, how hard is it to cram specific facts into your head for an exam, yet you know all the words to “War” by the Culture Club or Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf”, even though you never liked the song nor owned the single?

In conclusion, can we say that the WWE nee WWF is the cause of the downfall of Western Civilization and the greying between the black and white world of good guys and bad guys? It might make an interesting thesis for any of you out there doing a Sociology or Anthropology masters or Ph.D.! For the rest of us….?

6 Comments:

  • At 5:34 PM , Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

    As an avid viewer of Wrestlemania as a youngin, I can only say your analysis is dead-on .. blame wrasslin!

     
  • At 3:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    as a cockroach in the walls, i blame the easy-way-out, fast-food/instant-credit culture of modern american man/woman. i saw 2 episodes/epsiotomies of heist on t.v. and feel they went too far using crooks as heros and cops as dupes. this has been building for awhile. easy money and the cheerful thief who really loves his kids, but kills people who deserve it, is an anti-hero we can do without. it led us to voting for ralph klein and/or gee dubya bush, looking the other way from bill drop-drawers clinton, the video game culture that kills kids with craving for thrills and people who think xtc and lsd are the way to see god. hey, i been there and it only got me in this cockroach-infested wall, working with cross f.n. guards and cons who are only cheerful if they win and/or we say yes to their latest gratifications. the answer to prayer is often not what we want, but what we really already have, and a bit of awe-struck dumb-fukness that allows us to be simply happy. the result of years of deep meditation is also, often, just the benefit of peace that stays with you while this world makes noise in its orcess of dying with a very loud, long whimper. it started with a big bang and creation really seems evidently violent, in process, but the state of mind that made the bang is at peace. i must remember to stop whimpering while at work, or risk label of hypocrite. while there i would really like to see a good wrestling match take place, but i am not man enough to start one. it is like work; i can watch that too, but don't like to get involved. this is a contagious disease, this spectator-sport, do it now and give me now what i want what i want what i really really want now and all day and every day for free when i roll up a rim or buy a ticket. so, when whipper billy watson took on gene kiniski he was the good guy who waited for the right moment to strike. we watched the scientific wrestler die under stu hart's dollar-driven foot and we watch war in iraq for the same vicarious-thrill-seeking reasons. we are only human. it is good you are learning the patient art of judo and some zen; if you don't get the teaching job you will need both. hey, even if you do be a teacher, you will need them, as teen-age kids and sniveling inmates share so many selfish motives and attributes. goodluck, as the christians don't say!

     
  • At 5:04 PM , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    WWF changed when it became mainstream. The bottom line is the mainstream, not necessarily the things that go into it. By "mainstream", I mean the spectacle, the bling, the cashflow of marketing, which is keyed to the biggest hype or the best return on the advertising dollar. Since the process of maturation of adolescents involves changing away from the things of their youth/parental control, then it is a requirement for them to push the envelope into bigger Spectacle. Mature parents learn that they have to push back just as hard or harder to maintain a certain level of maturity in society. Herein lies the rub: We have doled out the parenting to TV, Schools, and 'Educators' whose parents were hippies, Yuppies, and drunken Spring Break queens and kings. In other words, there is no pushback, no maturity, and only the Almighty Dollar decides what doesn't fly. Wrestling just happened to hit the big time just as the big time hit itself.

     
  • At 8:50 AM , Blogger Real-E said...

    So, do you both think that the "push back" has resulted in the WWE spectacle permeating through everything - that push back being the response to conservatism and the fedora hats of the old B&W movies? I remember as a young lad, every time a heavy metal ban was playing that various city counsellors would try to ban the concerts as the music was considered "Satanic". Auntiegrav, you are right in the lack a maturity that our society definitely needs right now. The 'boy' inside many a man these days is getting silly with their toys superceding their needs.

    Do you think society will eventually rebel against "the spectacle" or does the enterprise culture have its talons set too deeply? I know I was at a NLL Lacrosse game last evening and it's sad that they have this great game, but what they are selling is the spectacle: loud music playing throughout, a hairy mascot on a custom made OCC chopper and scantly dressed cheerleaders dancing on the floor during some of the breaks which seems to be something more out of Monty Python than what you'd actually expect at a sporting event...

    Camus was one of the first writers to give us the 'absurd hero', but what we have now, for the most part, is just sad.

     
  • At 2:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i remember working with a young fellow and the boss of us was a cousin to a hockey player from chicago. when bob rightly indicated what a farce hockey had become, like the lacrosse you mention, but 34 years ago, the friendship ended at that breakfast table. bob left and i stayed and the boss was indicted, another story. but i think blind eyes watch glory spectacular and blinded eyes result from bad checks. there are so many puns from that.... so, i watch law and order on tv, knowing there is where to find it. in today's edmonton urinal, the smarter of two agrios brothers cannot judge what is child molestation, verbal or physical, so the police go out looking for a hammer to hit him with, so he can see through the blindfold of roaming justice. i think he and his brother, jack, dumb-as-a-sack-of-hammers, are big athletic supporters. oh well, judges and justice, spectacular needs spectacles, money moves the bowels of industry and sport is an industry. i drove through river road again and note another hundred joggers get healthy in the valley, not getting paid for it. fun to watch the runners' club at night, lit up by glow-in-dark striped on suits! more fun than oilers' games! archie-the-cockroach nodroggout....

     
  • At 11:50 AM , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    I think the revolution is beginning at a small level, and may get snuffed by the sheer magnitude of consumption and dependency on consumption in our current central planning (by corporations) world. Central planning always seems to fail, due to the fact that it is based on 'average' human beings, while there is no such thing as an average human being. That's why the revolution will continue, possibly forever, but probably never succeed in a grand way, only for individuals who live as individuals and can ignore the spectacle. Perhaps there will be a collapse ala Jared Diamond style, but I think there is a lot of momentum to delay or at least slow the degradation of our infrastructures. TV has burned itself out, but people are slowly realizing it while they turn on their iPods and turn off the cable box. We will know the real-e revolution has come when the iPods are full of books instead of pop, and the kids have enough respect to request stories and wisdom from their forebearers to have something unique, instead of buying 'uniqueness' from the 'unique' chain stores.

     

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