Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wrestling

My eldest son, who is 10, has become extremely intereted in professional wrestling.  This is bad for so many reasons.  Even the good guys on wrestling make terrible role models for the most part, especially the constant bragging and trash talk.  Even worse is the false idea of violence that wrestling gives.  I'm not opposed to violence in principle, but I don't want my son to think that you can hit someone over the head repeatedly with a blunt object and he will still be able to get back up a minute later to keep fighting.  I fear that such a false impression might cause someone to do permanent damage under the impression that he is just doing normal wrestling stuff.

I also enjoyed professional wrestling when I was 10.  It's understandable at that age.  But when the camera pans around the audience and shows normal-looking adults in the audience, it concerns me.  I'm not sure which is worse:  that they think the fighting is real, or that, thinking it real, they still want to watch it.  Even if you didn't know anything about how fighting actually works, there are so many tipoffs to the real nature of what is going on.  Does anyone ever wonder where there is never so much as a bloody nose in wrestling?  Why do MMA and UFC fighters, who do much less hitting during matches, look like abuse victims, while wrestlers look as pretty as actors?  In our lawsuit-crazed society, does it ever occur to any wrestling fans that the promoters would be getting sued left and right for injuries, especially those that occur outside of the ring?

I will have to say this for wrestling, though:  its promoters have created an enormously popular event.  Monday night wrestling is celebrating its position as the Longest running weekly episodic television series in historyEvery month or so, wrestling is able to convince a substantial number of fans to pay $45 for a three-hour pay-per-view show.  Can you imagine if football could charge that much for a single game for television access?  I'm not saying that wrestling is more popular than football, but it seems extraordinary to me that it can extract so much money from fans.

Part of the appeal of wrestling, I figure, is that it is so realistic in some respects.  Sure, those double-spin pile drivers off the turnstyles look as phony as they are, but wrestlers do an excellent job of pretending to be injured.  My wife, who already knew it was fake, thought that one guy might have been accidentally hurt.  The actors I admire the most, however, are the announcers.  They are not only completely deadpan in their delivery, but they sound exactly like regular sports announcers.  Perhaps, it just occurred to me, they don't even know what's going to happen, which would add authenticity to their surprise when unusual things happen.  They debate the relative merits of fighters, discuss upcoming matches, and feign indignity at various extracurricular activities just as though wrestling were a real sport.

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