thenodrin (thenodrin) wrote,
thenodrin
thenodrin

LJ Idol Week One: Empty Gestures

When I tell people that I watch wrestling, they often want to just go ahead and deduct points from whatever they expect my IQ to be. A lot of people consider it entertainment for the bottom rung of the brainless. And, almost everyone wants to try and explain to me that "it is all fake." And, they aren't nearly as amused as I am when I reply, "No, they are real people. Not CGI or anything."

That's not as bad as the tone they use, however. They always go into this conversation with the tone that an older brother might use to explain that there is no Santa Claus.

I understand where they are coming from. Back in the early 90s, before I accidentally (literally, accidentally) watched an episode of WWE Smackdown, I shared their opinion. Why bother watching if it isn't real? Why waste time on two hours of empty gestures?

But, let us examine that, shall we? WWE is, admittedly, fake. Or, more precisely, it is scripted. The WWE wrestlers aren't competing to see who is better. They are competing for the entertainment of the crowd. When they talk about or to one another, it isn't to insult or demoralize the opponent, but is to entertain the crowd. (That is why they can't see the cameraman.)

Is that really all that much different than what the actors on Battlestar Galactica, Monk, or Law and Order SVU do every week? Is the bravado displayed by the likes of John Cena or Edge really all that different from the confidence exhibited by any Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger character? Are the gestures through word and deed on WWE really any more empty than the ones on Sopranos or Dexter?

When the Undertaker threatens to take CM Punk's soul, is that an example of the show not being real? Or, is it in the same spirit as when Dracula threatens to take Buffy's soul?

A lot of people diminish the entertainment value of the WWE with the claim that it is not real, that it is nothing more than empty gestures. I think it is because they don't realize exactly what they are watching. When they watch a football game on tv, there is a question of who is going to win. When they watch a reality show on tv, there is a question of how someone is going to react to this or that hurtful comment. But, on the WWE, the winner is determined by the story need, not the athletic ability. On the WWE, the most hurtful comments are made between off camera friends who go out for drinks together afterward.

It is easy to forget that the WWE is just a tv show. There are the live fans, right there on camera. There are some people who use their real names, like John Cena, Randy Orton, and Matt Hardy. And, some of them use real-sounding names like Shawn Michaels and John Morrison.

And, the show tries to keep the microphone away from athletes who can't give a convincing promo. Mick Foley wrote in his autobiography that he would try to direct his microphone time to something he could believe in. When he complained that he felt the fans had abandoned him, he didn't really believe it, but he had seen a sign in the crowd that said, "Cane Huey" and he embraced that as something to be outraged about because his son's name was Huey. He didn't trust himself to deliver empty gestures, so he filled it with something else.

Another thing that makes it easy to forget that the show is not real is the fact that sometimes the performers get hurt. Dave Batista has had multiple surgeries on his tricep and Rey Mysterio on his knees. Both John Cena and Edge have had neck surgery. Sabu used to self-treat his lacerations with Crazy Glue. And, even though these are documented hospital stays to treat on-camera injuries, there are still nay-sayers who claim that the injuries are fake. They claim that the x-rays on screen belong to someone else. They claim that it is all an empty gesture intended to further the "fake" show.

So, you have a blurring of real in the imaginary. And, you have a blurring of imaginary in the real. At this point the gesture isn't even half-full. It is clear that this isn't the entertainment that you are looking for. And, you know what, if it isn't your cup of tea then it isn't. Not everything on television is meant for everyone. That is why we have ten million bazillion channels in the first place. You don't need an excuse to not watch a show that I happen to like.

Because, really, any excuse other than, "Its not for me," is just an empty gesture in and of itself. Isn't it?

Theno
Tags: lj idol
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