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How American wrestling is more honest than American politics
March 20, 2013 4:06 AM   Subscribe

"Professional wrestling fans, we who are "smart marks" especially, are in many ways more sophisticated than the political junkies who populate political blogs and web sites (what are really fan boy and fan girl mark hangouts) like the Free Republic or The Daily Kos.
They know that professional wrestling is a work and a game.
Do the Obamabots, Tea Party zealots, and true believers on either the Right or the Left realize that politics is much the same thing?"
posted by MartinWisse (84 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've noticed party fans called "marks" several times recently, always makes me smile, definitely sends the correct message.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:12 AM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The big difference is that unlike many politicians today, good wrestlers know rhetoric and how to pump up a crowd.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:36 AM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ok, some background:

Jack Swagger (Pro Wrestler) and Zeb Coulter (former pro wrestler turned "manager") are currently portraying a racist, xenophobic Tea Party-type duo in the ring. They are the "heels" (badguys) in a typical wrestling match: they give the audience somebody to boo at and root against. They probably aren't racist and xenophobic in real life. It's just an act to create drama and increase tension (and therefore viewership).

The Tea Party and Glen Beck took umbridge at being portrayed as racist and xenophobic (it probably hit a little too close to home for them).

The sad thing is, I disagree with the OP's analysis of Glen Beck = Professional Wrestling. From the number of times that he has broken down and cried on air, I'd argue that Beck probably believes everything (or nearly everything) that he says. I don't believe that he's ever conclusively broken "character", so to speak.

I guess it's also possible that Beck originally started out as a showman/entertainer but over time became so convinced of his own majesty/intelligence/foresight that he now convincingly believes his own rhetoric.

The analogy also fails since the consequences of radical right-wing politics are much, much more serious than the heavily scripted world of professional entertainment. People in the real world can and will die without healthcare, for example, if the ACA is ever repealed. If the Tea Party is entertainment, then it is a gladiatorial type of entertainment, wherein real people may die in the very real sense.
posted by Avenger at 4:37 AM on March 20, 2013 [29 favorites]


Yes, the people of Iraq are quite amused at how little U.S. politics matters and how Republicans and Democrats are essentially the same and just trying to "work" the "marks."
posted by Etrigan at 4:38 AM on March 20, 2013 [37 favorites]


Swagger's new gimmick, actually, is surprisingly nuanced. In fact, I'm not entirely sure I'd characterize it as "racist" at all. Xenophobic, yes. But it's not about keeping brown people down, it's about "America for Americans" and, amazingly, legal immigration (or at least it was for the first couple of weeks; I've missed a bit, by now, and pro wrestling storylines tend to change by the week).

They were presenting what has traditionally been the mainstream right-wing platform--deport the undocumented, keep it difficult to immigrate legally--and suggesting that it's something the audience should boo. It's either the first time the WWE has been ahead of (maybe not ahead; at least not behind) the curve; a "worked shoot," as the article suggests; or Vince needling the Party after Linda's failed senate run.

I think it's a little of both of the latter, but I wouldn't mind being wrong.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:50 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can opt out of watching wrestling without consequences. The law, not so much.
posted by mhoye at 4:51 AM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is it 2000 again yet?
posted by fleacircus at 4:57 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it has never occured to any of those patsies known as voters that their government has been taken over by oligarchs.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:04 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, the people of Iraq are quite amused at how little U.S. politics matters and how Republicans and Democrats are essentially the same and just trying to "work" the "marks."

Being tortured by gays-in-the-military is probably not materially different than adam-and-EVE-not-adam-and-STEVE.
posted by DU at 5:07 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, the people of Iraq are quite amused at how little U.S. politics matters and how Republicans and Democrats are essentially the same and just trying to "work" the "marks."

The war started with Democratic votes, including the likes of Hillary and John Kerry, but in general your point is good. People don't support Democrats because they are "good guys", a lot of people are cynical of all politicians in general, they support them because there are real world consequences for doing otherwise.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:07 AM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's the germ of an interesting idea here, but it breaks down with the lazy fallback to Both Sides Do It and They're All The Same. Does Chauncey DeVega (I'm guessing at the capitalization here) believe that, for example, Obama and Romney got together before the first presidential debate last fall and decided that Obama would throw it just to make the race more exciting, then make a big comeback in the second and third? Did they actually coordinate tactics or "moves"? Because that actually would make the two very much the same, but absent that, it's more of the same "Obamney" crap that got so tiresome well before the election. It seems to me that Romney's supporters were much more willing to suspend disbelief in their candidate's viability than Obama's.

Also, I don't think that Glenn Beck is any more sincere or less of a cynical performer because he occasionally cries on camera. Being able to cry on cue isn't necessarily a common skill, but certainly not unheard of, either.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:28 AM on March 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Avenger: "From the number of times that he has broken down and cried on air, I'd argue that Beck probably believes everything (or nearly everything) that he says."

Believes it enough to get vapo-rup put on his eyes to make him cry. That's dedication.
posted by idiopath at 5:29 AM on March 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Do the Obamabots, Tea Party zealots, and true believers on either the Right or the Left realize that politics is much the same thing?"

Let me compare this low-stakes thing to this high-stakes thing, but not take the stakes into account and instead just talk about the "process."

Do brain surgeons realize that performing an operation is the same as cutting up your food to eat it at dinner?

Do parents realize that taking care of a baby is no different than taking care of your lawn?

Do detectives realize that trying to find who committed a double homicide is no different from trying to figure out who ate your lunch out of the office fridge?
posted by OmieWise at 5:31 AM on March 20, 2013 [37 favorites]


Everything aside, I'd pay good money to see Nancy Pelosi hit Michelle Bachmann over the head with a chair.
posted by mikelieman at 5:32 AM on March 20, 2013 [35 favorites]


This Grantland article does a decent job breaking down the Jack Swagger-Glenn Beck thing on its own.

Honestly, given that Glenn Beck's star seems to be on the way out, I'm really hoping the surreal denouement of his career is being the subject of a promo where he's reminded that professional wrestling is fake.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:33 AM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let me compare this low-stakes thing to this high-stakes thing

Let me suggest that unless you're a corporation able to afford the buy-in, you have no stake at the table, and therefore politics in the USA, to the average citizen is a NO-STAKES thing, and therefore the analogy to pro-wrasslin' is valid.

As Frank Zappa once opined,
"'Cause what they do
In Washington
They just takes care
of NUMBER ONE
An' NUMBER ONE ain't YOU
You ain't even NUMBER TWO"

posted by mikelieman at 5:37 AM on March 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


I stopped reading HuffPo when I realized that the politics section and the celebrity gossip section were actually the same thing.
posted by Foosnark at 6:12 AM on March 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'll admit I'm probably not in a very charitable mood, but I was certainly swept along with the unavoidable roadshow that was the recent US Presidential reelection drama of Obama v Romney. Great show! What do we have to show for it?
posted by panaceanot at 6:13 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I'm not actually asking for anything... my involvement beyond being a spectator was zero... the show seemed to mean something at the time though)
posted by panaceanot at 6:15 AM on March 20, 2013


Related: Sen. Barack Obama vs. Sen. Hillary Clinton in a Democratic Primary Smackdown on WWE RAW.

(Random trivia: This was one the of the last times any male character performed a wrestling move on any female character. WWE moved their programming to "PG" about four months after this "match" happened, and since then menfolk basically can't touch the womenfolk.)
posted by andreaazure at 6:22 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it has never occured to any of those patsies known as voters that their government has been taken over by oligarchs.

Because there was some earlier golden age where politics, even American politics, *wasn't* in the pocket of the rich? Please.
posted by aught at 6:26 AM on March 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Then there's all those Jesse Ventura voters ...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:30 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


In reality, American politics is fought over issues that occupy a very narrow issue space.

Such petty concerns like voting rights, and access to health care. I stopped reading there.
posted by Garm at 6:46 AM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


So the idea is that politics is a game and the game it is already thrown and therefore everybody who engages in it is dumb?

That's quite intellectually shallow. People don't do things only if there is a concrete reward, especially if it involves ethics. That is unless you are an objectivist asshole.

It is also wrong on every level as frequent minor and the occasional major successes in changing things for the better (or worse in the case of the teabaggers) demonstrate.
posted by patrick54 at 6:53 AM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]




How dumb am I that I just now got the Zeb Colter/Anne Coulter joke?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:08 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


So when is the party of heels going to do a face turn?
posted by fuse theorem at 7:17 AM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


So when is the party of heels going to do a face turn?

When Chaffee comes back and Christie takes over. Don't hold your breath.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:28 AM on March 20, 2013


How dumb am I that I just now got the Zeb Colter/Anne Coulter joke?

I didn't get it until you pointed it out, but I was mostly caught up in "Holy shit, it's Dirty Dutch Mantel."
posted by Etrigan at 7:33 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Avenger: “From the number of times that he has broken down and cried on air, I'd argue that Beck probably believes everything (or nearly everything) that he says. I don't believe that he's ever conclusively broken 'character', so to speak. I guess it's also possible that Beck originally started out as a showman/entertainer but over time became so convinced of his own majesty/intelligence/foresight that he now convincingly believes his own rhetoric.”

The fact that you and I have never seen him break character means basically nothing. We aren't his confidants. Doing a radio or a television program in a character without breaking that character isn't exactly a painful or difficult thing, even (perhaps especially) when that character is passionate about his or her beliefs. And since the talk radio (and television) airwaves are filled with people like Beck who do nothing but play characters, I don't think it's that dubious that Beck is playing his own character.

I mean, he's demonstrated over and over again that he has almost no principles that can't be bent. The gold coin business, for example – he would never have done that if his central aim was bettering his audience. And he's shown signs that he's more savvy than he'd like to let on. For instance, he said a couple of years ago that he identifies a lot with Howard Beale, the psychotic character in the film Network whose mad idealism allows him to be twisted into a corporate stooge. Anybody who's actually watched that film and paid attention to more than the one famous scene know that that's an odd character for an ideologue to identify with. The only thing Beck might possibly identify with is the on-air charisma Beale displays; but of course Beale's charisma has nothing to do with whether or not he's right about the world, and in the end it turns out to be his undoing.
posted by koeselitz at 7:40 AM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let me suggest that unless you're a corporation able to afford the buy-in, you have no stake at the table, and therefore politics in the USA, to the average citizen is a NO-STAKES thing, and therefore the analogy to pro-wrasslin' is valid.

It's more like we have a massive stake in the game, but we're not allowed a seat at the table or dealt a hand we can play for ourselves, because believe me, there are huge stakes for everyone. It's mostly our money and our ability to determine our own economic and social futures that the players "at the table" are gambling with.

We all have a stake at the table, like it or not, we're just not necessarily allowed to play our own hands.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:45 AM on March 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I really wish Bill Simmons would set aside his fascination with wrestling. It's like seeing a hipster drink PBR ironically, but in print form.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:47 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


from article: “In reality, American politics is fought over issues that occupy a very narrow issue space.”

Garm: “Such petty concerns like voting rights, and access to health care. I stopped reading there.”

It's cute when one party insists that it is the party that stands up for voting rights and access to health care, but neither of those things has changed significantly in my lifetime, and they're not about to – and I don't think anybody can plausibly claim that they will change. Minorities will still get shafted in the voting booth, poor people will still go bankrupt paying for health care, and the two parties will be delighted to fight over whether 1% or 2% of people get to share the spoils of a corrupt civilization whilst acting as though they're waging a grand battle that will decide the fate of the world. We shouldn't let their delusions of grandeur convince us that it's so.
posted by koeselitz at 7:48 AM on March 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


koeselitz: you need to spend some time in Florida if you don't think those things have changed significantly in your lifetime.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:51 AM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


The article is right about one thing, though. Legislative sessions, like pro-wrestling, are scripted in advance. At least, they are at the state level.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:53 AM on March 20, 2013


Does Chauncey DeVega (I'm guessing at the capitalization here) believe that, for example, Obama and Romney got together before the first presidential debate last fall and decided that Obama would throw it just to make the race more exciting, then make a big comeback in the second and third?

Wait, you're saying this didn't happen? Then you probably also don't believe Bush was wired with a secret speaker linked to Cheney giving him lines in one of his debates.

(sorry, I just love that scenario so much I can't let it go.)
posted by ecourbanist at 7:58 AM on March 20, 2013


From the number of times that he has broken down and cried on air, I'd argue that Beck probably believes everything (or nearly everything) that he says. I don't believe that he's ever conclusively broken 'character', so to speak.

Clearly you haven't watched enough American religious fund raising TV...
posted by ennui.bz at 8:02 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's always remarkable to see the passion with which some people insist that nothing really matters.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:17 AM on March 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think a lot of political coverage is little better than sports reporting, or perhaps the gossip column.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:18 AM on March 20, 2013


Well the important thing is that you've found a way to be superior to both.

I've never liked the "both parties are the same, and part of a grand conspiracy to delude the masses". It has a couple of troubling premises. Democracy doesn't work, because people are stupid, or mislead, or have false consciousness, etc etc. This is a very dehumanizing position to take. It turns the rest of humanity, those that don't agree with you, into some lumpen proletariat that has to be dealt with using Leo Straussian deception and lies. Or insulted until they agree with you, although given the reaction to this piece, this is the less effective, but more moral way to go.

Also, it boils down the really different positions on issues, (that the author may or may not care about) the party has. I can understand if your main concerns are international politics, or digital freedom policies, there ain't a damn bit a difference. And the fact that most of the things that are different (health care, budget concerns), are not primary executive branch powers is annoying, given the stubborn mule that is our current congress. But there are differences. People are getting health care that wouldn't. And with a Republican president and Congress, we'd already have a budget passed, light on social spending and double helping of the military industrial complex.

I'm sorry your position is a minority one. It does not mean that the rest of the world is deluded, or misinformed, or evil. They disagree with you. Stamping about like a toddler and yelling "WAKE UP SHEEPLE" will not make them agree with you.
posted by zabuni at 8:21 AM on March 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's a little too easy to dismiss this by saying "well sure but WWF doesn't have like bombs and laws and stuff". But that confuses the machinery of law and government with the civil and political discourse. They are very different things.

Of *course* actual government is different from entertainment. But the news and culture industries are not very. And when people don't understand the latter, it breaks down the relationship with the former. The discussion becomes about the wrong things, is easily manipulated, and there's less and less real connection between what government actually does and what the public thinks it should do.

And that's bad. This is brilliant. And I don't like pro wrestling.
posted by freebird at 8:24 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's always remarkable to see the passion with which some people insist that nothing really matters.

Well, anyone can see.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:25 AM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think a lot of political coverage is little better than sports reporting, or perhaps the gossip column.

I think this is a much truer and defensible statement than the statement that politics generally is like professional wrestling. The reality of political activity by citizens isn't really fake; the voting, the volunteering on campaigns, attending rallies, etc. is all real and matters.

The political "activity" that consists of following MSNBC or Fox 24/7, constantly reading blogs, and generally spending half your waking moments making sure that you're "informed"? That's just entertainment, and Glenn Beck is basically sports talk radio (the lowest form of discourse).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:44 AM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


As I've learned from constantly tripping on psychedelic drugs and watching wrestling:

Politics is wrestling because EVERYTHING is wrestling
posted by smackwich at 8:46 AM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of the people who don't seem to get that the Daily Show is primarily making fun of crappy news coverage, not politicians.

If politics resembles pro wrestling, it's almost entirely because of crappy news coverage that treats politics like pro wrestling.
posted by straight at 8:52 AM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]




So when is the party of heels going to do a face turn?

I was gonna suggest that Portman did, and that it didn't generate the heat they were looking for. So, back to the drawing board.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:15 AM on March 20, 2013


I think a lot of political coverage is little better than sports reporting, or perhaps the gossip column.

Politics is frequently described as a blood sport...

If the Tea Party is entertainment, then it is a gladiatorial type of entertainment, wherein real people may die in the very real sense.

...but I don't think the analogy was ever intended to be literal.
posted by asnider at 9:18 AM on March 20, 2013


The knee-jerk reaction to the "two sides of the same coin" rhetoric will never cease to amaze me. It's like an internal alarm goes off, granting permission to stop reading an article, act dismissive, and set up strawmen once this argument rears its ugly head.
posted by antonymous at 9:24 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Clearly the answer is more wrestlers in politics.

FOLEY/PUNK 2016
posted by HostBryan at 9:46 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with Halloween Jack, that this is an interesting idea that could use a bit more fleshing out. The Colbert Nation would be a good example of smart marks, they all get it, but by the same token, use their power to do things (even if they are silly like naming bridges, or space station robots).
It's easy to cast whichever side you disagree with as rubes who can't see behind the veil, but the savvy Showman, given the right audience with the right kind of pull, could easily do quite a bit of harm or good if they play it right.
Good journalism has always been the vanguard against this. I hope, earnestly, that the evolution of the press in the digital age will somehow figure out a way to make politics more transparent, not less.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:57 AM on March 20, 2013


The Hagel nomination process was like he got tied to the ropes by his old stable, and given a collective beatdown for his treachery. Then Obama runs in and scares everyone out, even though he's vastly outnumbered. The stable irately gesticulates and points before wandering out.

And the GOP primary debates = Shockmaster Royal Rumble.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:10 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's cute when one party insists that it is the party that stands up for voting rights and access to health care, but neither of those things has changed significantly in my lifetime, and they're not about to
koeselitz

I assume you're older than 3 years old, yes? Then you recall the wave of highly restrictive, controversial voter registration laws passed in 2010 and after when Republicans seized control of a number of state legislatures, laws that were bitterly fought and in numerous states struck down or blocked by the courts? Perhaps you are not old enough so that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was in your lifetime (I'm not either), but right now the Supreme Court is considering striking down Section 5 of that act. This has long been a goal of conservatives to remove obstacles to placing voting restrictions like the ones they tried in 2010.

Sorry to pop your bubble of cynical superiority, but voting rights are very much a live issue today, and it matters vitally who is in power because the two parties have extremely different ideas on that issue. It's this very attitude of "we're all fucked anyway" that ensures that we're all fucked.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:17 AM on March 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


Geez, I'm disappointed with the cited article. Where's the obligatory "Wake up sheeple!"
posted by BillW at 10:23 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's this very attitude of "we're all fucked anyway" that ensures that we're all fucked.

That's your interpretation of koeselitz's comment, not what was actually said. Observing flaws in the two-party system is not the same as being defeatist about issues such as voting rights or health care reform, just as pointing out the difference between the two parties is not enough to justify the continued existence of a two-party political system. Some people want to empower Democrats, and some people want to destroy the system that empowers Republicans...
posted by antonymous at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's this very attitude of "we're all fucked anyway" that ensures that we're all fucked.

I'm pretty sure we were fucked anyway.
posted by colie at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Random trivia: This was one the of the last times any male character performed a wrestling move on any female character. WWE moved their programming to "PG" about four months after this "match" happened, and since then menfolk basically can't touch the womenfolk.)

Whereas in politics menfolk can't touch the womenfolk, but they can legislate on their bodies.
posted by ersatz at 11:26 AM on March 20, 2013


but neither of those things has changed significantly in my lifetime, and they're not about to – and I don't think anybody can plausibly claim that they will change.

Why are you using your lifetime as a yardstick for measurement? Any lasting, significant, and positive change in a country of 300+ million in a world of 7 billion is going to take well beyond any single person's lifetime.

It seems like frustration with modern politics is just the result of growing up in a society that prizes me-first behavior and mass convenience and instant gratification.
posted by FJT at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2013


That's your interpretation of koeselitz's comment, not what was actually said. Observing flaws in the two-party system is not the same as being defeatist about issues such as voting rights or health care reform, just as pointing out the difference between the two parties is not enough to justify the continued existence of a two-party political system. Some people want to empower Democrats, and some people want to destroy the system that empowers Republicans...
antonymous

Well, until you amend the Constitution to establish a proportional representation system, the two party system is what we're stuck with, so it's what we have to work with. Sitting around bemoaning its existence and how you are above it and refusing to participate is exactly the cynical superiority I was talking about.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:57 AM on March 20, 2013


Sangermaine: “Sitting around bemoaning its existence and how you are above it and refusing to participate is exactly the cynical superiority I was talking about.”

When exactly did I suggest that I would ever refuse to participate? I view it as a responsibility to be aware of politics and participate; and I do. On the contrary, my suggestion is that showing up and rooting for one team is not enough.

This is one of the fundamental problems with modern politics; people are split into two camps; those that think that all action is ineffectual beyond a complete destruction of the current system, and those that think that the best we can do is side with one group of people and insist over and over again that that group of people is wonderful and is trying to do wonderful things. Neither of these positions make much sense to me. I like the idea of institutional change, but that certainly doesn't mean I have to reduce myself to the level of a partisan cheerleader.

I'm not deluded enough to think that Democratic politicians or Republican politicians really care all that deeply either about health care or voting rights. The health care system has seen some advances in the past few years, and I appreciate them, but they're very small – much smaller than what people need. And as far as voting rights are concerned, neither party is willing to do anything beyond what they know will help them in the polls. That's just how political parties are. Since these are very important issues, politicians are always going to make a lot of noise out of small changes; I don't think it's cynical nihilism to have a realistic view of this fact.

My suggestion is absolutely not that we should stop participating. My suggestion is that we need to do our best to refrain from the lulling partisan notion that there's one party that is noble, that clearly has our best interests in mind. In our age, when institutional change is unfortunately not often seen as worthwhile, we need to learn again how to demand progress from those who represent us. It's my firm conviction that that means dropping the charades and the partisanship and focusing with laser precision on the things that actually matter.

And, yeah, I'll say it again: there has absolutely not been significant change in voting rights and in health care in the past few decades. The precious few advancements in these areas are miniscule compared to the work that needs to be done. Nobody has any right at this point to be patting themselves on the backs for fixing these things.
posted by koeselitz at 12:16 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


And, yeah, I'll say it again: there has absolutely not been significant change in voting rights and in health care in the past few decades. The precious few advancements in these areas are miniscule compared to the work that needs to be done. Nobody has any right at this point to be patting themselves on the backs for fixing these things.

Sometimes, defense in place is a victory all by itself.
posted by Etrigan at 12:22 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


FJT: “It seems like frustration with modern politics is just the result of growing up in a society that prizes me-first behavior and mass convenience and instant gratification.”

Do you honestly believe that a frustration with the shortcomings of the two-party system and the crass partisanship that system generates is solely borne out of selfishness and a love of convenience? What could be more convenient to most of us (less just, but more convenient) than a system where the political participation our society demands is reduced to the level of showing up to the game and rooting for the home team? Hell, football still asks more; at least with football there's usually a game every week, instead of every two years.

There is only one thing that can possibly make a two-party system workable: consistent and widespread engagement with politics and the political process, engagement that avoids simply choosing a side and sticking with that side. I don't think I'm demonstrating my own selfishness or entitlement when I say that I don't believe that engagement is encouraged by either of the two parts – nor will it ever be, since it doesn't really serve them. And I don't think I'm being cynical when I say that I'd like to see people get more involved.
posted by koeselitz at 12:24 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Observing flaws in the two-party system is not the same as being defeatist about issues such as voting rights or health care reform

No, obviously not. But the discussion started with the proposition that professional wrestling is more honest than American politics. As a proposition, that's either simple-minded (if the author believes that "politics" is nothing but a series of staged rivalries) or trite (if the author is saying that many commentators on politics act as if politics were nothing but a series of staged rivalries). It's hard to turn that into a very insightful discussion of the deeply flawed system of two party government.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:32 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The knee-jerk reaction to the "two sides of the same coin" rhetoric will never cease to amaze me. It's like an internal alarm goes off, granting permission to stop reading an article, act dismissive

That's because it's asinine. If it isn't asinine because the "two sides of the same coin" rhetoric is a moronically over-simplified description of the American government, then it's asinine because there's not really much discussion to be had after such a declaration is made. Yeah, great, two sides of the same coin, not a dime's worth of difference, now what? Puppet heads? Revolution? Chat some more on a message board?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:45 PM on March 20, 2013


octobersurprise: “Yeah, great, two sides of the same coin, not a dime's worth of difference, now what? Puppet heads? Revolution? Chat some more on a message board?”

Direct action. Public lobbying. Grassroots campaigns. Awareness-raising. Social dialogue and debate. Petitioning of public officials.

Honestly, pretty much every single option is better and more effective than the sedate complicity that the two major parties prefer us to default to. Please recognize that that's what you're suggesting: sedate complicity, and an eschewing of actually working to change things.
posted by koeselitz at 2:34 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter are currently portraying a racist, xenophobic Tea Party-type duo in the ring... heels...

I have not read the entire thread. But does ANYONE realize how MASSIVE of a sea change this is from the norm of not too long ago? I mean hell, even Proud Canadian type characters less then 10 years ago in wrestling were the most hated of heels and constantly the fodder for All American Hero characters. God help you if you were tan, because you were going to be playing a Middle Eastern, and would probably be shot on your way out of the arena by a rabid fan mob.
posted by mediocre at 2:38 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're all going to die anyway. The only thing that really matters is what keeps us entertained in the meantime. I don't watch much wrestling, but my friend claims that all storytelling can be told in terms of wrestling psychology. It certainly seems like that's how the media covers politics.

Obama, the Face, is winning! Oh no, the slimy heel, a parody of the ultra-rich, has defeated him in a debate! Will our hero lose? But wait! Somebody leaked a backstage promo of the heel insulting the audience! Just when it looks like things are lost the Face comes back!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:39 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


It would be great to see a tea party character fight IRS.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh no, the slimy heel, a parody of the ultra-rich, has defeated him in a debate!

Everybody has a price. Hahahaha.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:51 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Million Dollar Man is now considered middle class for tax policy purposes.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:53 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please recognize that that's what you're suggesting: sedate complicity, and an eschewing of actually working to change things.

Oh? I didn't recognize that I was suggesting sedate complicity. So let me be clear: I'm not.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:53 PM on March 20, 2013


The only thing that really matters is what keeps us entertained in the meantime.

Well, maybe the only thing that matters to you.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:55 PM on March 20, 2013


As a proposition, that's either simple-minded (if the author believes that "politics" is nothing but a series of staged rivalries) or trite (if the author is saying that many commentators on politics act as if politics were nothing but a series of staged rivalries).

So the only two ways to classify the "wrestling is more honest than politics" statement is that it is either: A. simple-minded or B. trite? If those are the only two lenses through which you can view the statement, you're probably not going to get much out of the discussion. There's little insinuation about politics being staged in the article or in the video either way. The point was to demonstrate that Beck and his ilk are just out to seek attention, similar to the staged WWE rivalries and promo videos, in order to profit from his position as entertainer.

If it isn't asinine because the "two sides of the same coin" rhetoric is a moronically over-simplified description of the American government, then it's asinine because there's not really much discussion to be had after such a declaration is made. Yeah, great, two sides of the same coin, not a dime's worth of difference, now what? Puppet heads? Revolution? Chat some more on a message board?

Again, I know this "both-parties-serve-the-same-corporate-master" discussion isn't the point of the article, but do you see how dismissive this statement is of other's viewpoints? I guess it's "moronically over-simplified" to suggest why this happens in America and not to the same extent in other countries, or what possible remedies might exist to help fix this problem without the help of the Almighty Democrats. All hell would surely break loose if someone were to mention instant runoff voting, ways to alter the influence of lobbyists in the United States, or how to better engage citizens at a local level.
posted by antonymous at 3:07 PM on March 20, 2013


I'm utterly convinced that Glenn Beck is playing a character/role because that's what his listeners want to hear. I've said before that he's VERY intelligent, and would be a fun dude to sit down with over a beer and discuss things that weren't related to politics or anything he covers with his media personality.
posted by mrbill at 3:18 PM on March 20, 2013


I kinda want to reiterate my point. Professional wrestling audiences now see far right, anti-immigration, xenophobe characters as THE ENEMY.

This is like NASCAR audiences clamoring for their favorite teams or whatever the NASCAR equivilent is to be driving hybrids on the track.

This is more then just a blip on the cultural radar, this is a wild change of paradigm over what the blue collar, middle-american viewpoint has always been as.
posted by mediocre at 4:25 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have not read the entire thread. But does ANYONE realize how MASSIVE of a sea change this is from the norm of not too long ago? I mean hell, even Proud Canadian type characters less then 10 years ago in wrestling were the most hated of heels and constantly the fodder for All American Hero characters.

JBL has some words to pick with you. And Kurt Angle is right behind him.
posted by Etrigan at 5:24 PM on March 20, 2013


koeselitz: "It's cute when one party insists that it is the party that stands up for voting rights and access to health care, but neither of those things has changed significantly in my lifetime, and they're not about to – and I don't think anybody can plausibly claim that they will change."

Despite all the flack it got from both sides, the ACA is a significant change. It is very similar to the kinds of laws that were initially passed in nearly every country with far more comprehensive universal healthcare, meaning every advanced nation except the US. It leads to the best solution over time, because people are very reluctant to give up any sort of medical coverage (e.g., the third rail of politics is still Medicare/Medicaid).

I am painfully aware of how slow we're going with this, but we didn't pass Medicare until 1965. In any event, for me personally, the ACA is a very significant change. It means that, for the first time, I can live anywhere in the US and qualify for insurance (outside group coverage through an employer, which I do not have access to right now). Before now, I could only qualify for insurance coverage in states that had some sort of high-risk pool or public health care. It's really not an option for me to go without insurance due to ongoing, lifelong medical needs, and as such, it's a pretty big fucking deal to know I'm no longer anchored to a location due to health care.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:26 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


And, yeah, I'll say it again: there has absolutely not been significant change in voting rights and in health care in the past few decades. The precious few advancements in these areas are miniscule compared to the work that needs to be done. Nobody has any right at this point to be patting themselves on the backs for fixing these things.

You are kidding, right? Even ignoring the voting rights act, and all of the blood, sweat, and tears it took to actually put it into effect, there have been tons of changes. The 26th amendment happened, as did requiring that voting material be available in different languages, the motor voter act, disability access, the rise of absentee ballots, online registration, early voting, and so on. These are not trivial changes. Yes, they need to be both defended and expanded further, but saying we haven't been working away at it is just wrong.
posted by Garm at 8:56 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 26th amendment did not happen in my lifetime; it happened more than four decades ago. The Voting Rights Act happened almost five decades ago. Motor Voter was more recent - two decades ago - and it was a very good change, but by no means did it completely fix the difficulties involved in voting and the hoodwinking of eligible voters that happens in every election.

I guess I should stress that I don't think nothing good has happened since 1971. But I do think that there's been a significant drop off in positive, progressive institutional change, and that bothers me.

Maybe this would be a better way of putting it: I think the achievements we've had in recent years have been great, but we live in a world of politicians who find it in their best interest to exaggerate their own triumphs regularly. I'd like it if we could find a happy medium between despising politicians and adoring them. I feel like that's the only way we can get back to doing what needs to be done - and I suspect you and I agree on what needs to be done: we Americans need to keep working to pressure politicians and government officials to help us build the country we really ought to have.
posted by koeselitz at 9:07 PM on March 20, 2013


JBL ... Kurt Angle

JBL was a fluke, more or less. His character was only politically motivated to give his feud with the Guererros some depth. Politics never was a character or story point in any other feuds. Other than that, he was just playing the rich asshole like Ted Debiasi before him. And no, The Million Dollar Man also does not count. The only political line that could exist with his character was his black manservant, and that was an issue never addressed directly even when Virgil turned face and against M$M.

Kurt Angle.. I do not even know what you are referring to. His character was always the All American Hero. Even during heel turns, his patriotism was played for laughs.
posted by mediocre at 10:27 PM on March 20, 2013


I'm utterly convinced that Glenn Beck is playing a character/role because that's what his listeners want to hear.

You might be on to something:

Glenn Beck falls to his knees to ‘resuscitate’ flag wounded by gun control
posted by homunculus at 12:37 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only political line that could exist with his character was his black manservant, and that was an issue never addressed directly even when Virgil turned face and against M$M.

Maybe not directly, but the subtext there was as subtle as a sledgehammer even to my eyes as a kid.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:42 AM on March 21, 2013


JBL was a fluke, more or less. His character was only politically motivated to give his feud with the Guererros some depth.

Post-APA, his character immediately went anti-immigrant. His first push started with him at the border with Mexico. Sure, it was "only" because of the Guerreros, but he was playing the exact same character that Swagger is now.

Kurt Angle.. I do not even know what you are referring to. His character was always the All American Hero. Even during heel turns, his patriotism was played for laughs.

That's just it -- if wrestling were as two-dimensional as you claim it was just ten years ago, then how is it that Kurt Angle was playing the All-American Olympic Hero Redwhiteandblue Heel fifteen years ago?
posted by Etrigan at 4:00 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kurt Angle, a legitimate Olympic gold medalist, started as a heel during the Attitude Era—when pro wrestling targeted an audience of 18-year-olds, not 12-year-olds, and crowds cheered for antiheroes. He pompously wrapped himself in the flag, but his wholesomeness was played for laughs because it stood in obvious contrast to his cowardice and cheating in the ring. It’s not coincidence that he turned face soon after 9/11 when audiences once again wanted to cheer for a patriotic American.
posted by nicepersonality at 9:02 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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