Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Wrestling Fandom and Sterotype

Posted by connorfrederick12 on March 25, 2017

Wrestling fandom is something that is somewhat fragile at the core of it. It’s a fandom that is composed of fans of all different walks of life, and wrestling fans are exaggeratedly scrutinized and stereotyped.

I am a very big fan of the hit show “South Park” and on one episode the boys go to watch WWE live in Denver one night and then after some events, decide to make their own wrestling federation. As the program they created got bigger and bigger locally, the fans started showing up, most of which is what the stereotypical wrestling fan would be; the redneck, really country talking like. I know they are being satirical in the show but, it is not always this way in society. A lot of society sees a stereotypical wrestling fan in that way, which I personally don’t find offensive because I know that’s not me, but some do.

Back to fandom, wrestling fans get upset with some of the decisions that the WWE makes. One particularly big decision that was made was when Brock Lesnar beat the Undertaker at Wrestlmania 30, ending his unbeaten run of over 20+ wins at Wrestlemania. I was not very invested in the WWE at the time because I stopped watching a lot after Jeff Hardy’s departure due to drug problems but, I was still really upset. But, that can show the magnitude of the fandom that the WWE has created.

This has personally been an exciting week of class for me. I love the WWE, and others should appreciate it, and what it has done for pop culture more.

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Fanatic Stereotype

Posted by cameronbrooks3 on March 23, 2017

One of the worst things that we do to one another as human beings is stereotyping each other. Either it’s because we don’t feel the same way someone else does on a topic, or just because he hear something we believe it and it makes us want to judge them, making people feel less than what they really are. Well in this case of fanatic stereotypes it plays the same role. There are a lot of concerns about media  accounts stereotyping fans which is the heart of fan studies orgin. For example, World Wrestlering Entertainment (WWE) is one of those stereotypes people make on it being a “real” sport or not. Even though in my opinion I do not like wrestling one bit and it does seem scripted, once again that is just my own opinion and there are people out there that really enjoy WWE and think it is 100% real. Unlike any other major sports league, what makes WWE different from the rest is that they don’t have an off-season. For example, Almost every week WWE airs at least five hours of new cable programs, as well as new programs on the WWE channel.  In the wrestling culture they are targeted the most when it comes down to being not only real or fake but, concerns to the public. Wrestling fandom will always be miss understood and we will never get the full concept of it unless we examine it and ask questions about WWE, maybe if we start with this the answers will come as well.

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Pop Culture Hierarchy

Posted by adusheck on March 23, 2017

The readings for today were particularly interesting to me as they not only made me look at a different view as they discussed the feelings that society puts on different fandoms but also because the comparison of wrestling and soap operas along with Star Trek. While all of these things are completely different what makes them similar is their fandoms/audiences. Each of the viewers are looked at as the lower value of people in the societal hierarchy, what is strange about this is that the audiences for these shows/movies are completely different. When we discussed soap operas it was brought to my attention that the targeted audience was stay at home moms because they were the only ones home to watch during the day, while wrestling targets a completely different audience as it targets mostly males and is showed at night. Star Trek differs from both in that it is not viewed as frequently but still receives the same amount of critique by society. In reading this I developed several questions. The main one being, how do we as a society decide what each level of this hierarchy consists of? I feel that the hierarchy is an unspoken rule/language. There is no guide that states what is cool and what is not because pop culture is purely opinion based which is what makes each of these topics so complex. While overall it is recognized that wrestling is considered lower level entertainment the fan base that it has is still huge and does not recognize that just as I may not like a show but my best friend can love it, what makes something good?

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Wrestling Pt. 2

Posted by jacobkaraglanis on March 23, 2017

After our first readings about professional wrestling, then watching a few of the actual wrestling matches in class on Tuesday. I personally feel like I understand less about professional wrestling now, than I did before we started our class focus on it. I am saying this not because the concepts or any of the footage that we watched were very complex. I just completely lose all understanding for why people are so incredibly enthralled with the sport that is professional wrestling.

Like before our readings and viewing, I guess I kind of was able to convince myself that I understood professional wrestling. I was able to rationalize that “oh hey, wrestling is a fairly popular professional sport that people seem to enjoy. It must be like any other sport.” Well that is where I was completely wrong.

See I had heard stories and seen some quick clips of wrestling’s strange acting and some of the oddities that were present. But as a whole, I did not imagine all of it would be as completely ridiculous as it was. Sure, some of the moves are bound to actually hurt. But the absolute fictitious nature of the whole event was insane. It was like watching buff stunt doubles sort of beat each other up. I was quite possibly some of the worst content I had ever watched. Part of that honestly had to do with the fact that there were so many fans there watching it and paying so much money to partake in such a crappy thing. That is truly where I decided that I just do NOT understand anything about wrestling. So therefore, my blog post for “Understanding Wrestling Part 2,”  is about me just completely not understanding wrestling. At. All.

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Simplistically Critiquing Critics for Simplistic Criticism

Posted by Sean Hull on March 23, 2017

Though the assigned readings focused more on the relationship between fans, producers, and their modes of interaction with each other, the overarching societal issue of Pro Wrestling being interpreted in a simplistic and demeaning manner, and these notions’ parallels with other forms of criticism are the topics I will explore.

Though the reasons for constant misinterpretation of Pro Wrestling are perhaps unique to its medium, what with audience Kayfabe creating a façade of gullibility that may be taken for legitimate on a cursory exploration, some specific criticisms leveled against Pro Wrestling seem reflective of critical attitudes towards media throughout all of history. (I will admit I am over-simplifying things in this critique of critics, but for the purposes of this blog post it should do.) The notions that Pro Wrestling promotes dangerous behavior, and is unworthy of consideration due to its lack of nuance, are reflections of the two types of dismissive, simplistic criticism I often see applied to any form of media which goes against current critical standards, be they the critical standards of professional critics or society at large.

For example, I can remember these exact forms of criticism being brought to bear against video games to an absurd degree during my childhood, though this may be unique to my conservative small-town upbringing. Though perhaps less pronounced, questions of video games as “art” or as “too violent” are still widespread questions, unfortunately often posed with a subtext of foregone conclusions against them. Looking further back, this form of criticism can be seen applied to Rock and Metal, which were often maligned as overly simplistic, or, from a religious perspective, perhaps even destructive and Satanic.

Can I dismiss all of these criticisms entirely? No, but neither do I see them applied to media to an appropriate degree, either. Too often these forms of criticism are but the tools of reactionaries who forego robust investigations of their targets, and this is something I cannot respect.

Returning to the subject of Pro Wresting, it is interesting that attitudes toward it don’t seem to have shifted as significantly as those towards media such as Rock and Metal music, or video games. Though Pro Wrestling’s immersive story world and use of Kayfabe give it a unique aspect, it may be this perpetual façade that contributes towards Pro Wrestling’s inability to escape the critical lens from which other forms of media more rapidly remove themselves.

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Wrestling P2

Posted by katemilner9 on March 23, 2017

The first pair of wrestling readings made us look at wrestling as a cultural influence, but this set takes that further. The Marks Have Gone Off Script makes you consider wrestling as, almost, a type of art. It explains the amount of work that goes into wrestling as a performance, and the amount of attention to detail and preciseness required to yield such an extensive and interactive fandom. Something we’ve seen again and again is the importance of fan engagement when it comes to seeing a media form succeed and strive, and the realm of wrestling doesn’t ignore that. All in all, it’s readings like these that show how little credit we give things like wrestling, as if we forget there’s so much thought and planning going into it, like any other genre of entertainment. Perhaps we can accredit that to how immersive these performances are.

With that though, we must ask how immersive is too immersive? “I Was Stabbed 21 Times by Crazy Fans” shows how sometimes, the characters and situations presented in a wrestling performance could get the fans so riled up that they led to violence towards the performers. This behavior is something I can’t seem to wrap my head around, as it shows just how the lines between reality and performance can be blurred, in a way much more different than on TV or in movies (you wouldn’t assault David Schwimmer just because Ross is your least favorite FRIEND). Wrestling exists on a plane aside from what we see as a traditional actor/character situation, where it’s very clear where one ends and the other begins. It’s almost too focused on world-building to stop and wonder the effects of its hyper-realism on the participants.

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Understanding Pro Wrestling Part 2

Posted by jasendavis on March 23, 2017

Reading the essays about fan interaction with wrestling scares the crap out of me. I’ve never seen a fan so emotionally invested in anything to where they felt the need to join the action and put themselves or the performers at risk, but the idea seems too farfetched for my mind to register. The accounts of Funk, Ventura, Flair and Heenan are too outlandish to fathom. In my view of the “sport”, the element they call kayfabe would signal to me that the action being portrayed is obviously fake. Who can be an insufferable ass all the time? But to others, it incites them. I have only watched a handful of matches in my life, and I find them to be hilarious. Who gets punched, falls down, gets up and then continues to walk into another punch almost immediately? It’s ridiculous. I feel as though they sport preys upon those that are too easily fooled by the trick. They need to elicit some reaction, and what worries me is the reactions come despite the general format that the genre takes. I’ll call it the “every dog gets its day” format. If a guy loses a match, there are going to be opportunities in the future. I did some research for this. Daniel Bryan suffered the worst loss in Wrestlemania history, still went on to win a championship. I yell when my team loses a game, but I would never fly to New York or Boston and try to stab a player, even though that may be the final opportunity I have to witness such a thing. I honestly believe that studying wrestling fans would be a very complex psychological endeavor.   

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Understanding Professional Wrestling, Part 2

Posted by nathanpowers22 on March 23, 2017

The focus of this week’s readings (“‘I Was Stabbed 21 Times by Crazy Fans’: Pro Wrestling & Popular Concerns with Immersive Story Worlds” and “The Marks Have Gone Off-Script: Rogue Actors in the WWE’s Stands”) is clearly on Ford’s model of “quintuple viewing” to describe the complicated relationship between fans and producers/performers in the world of pro wrestling. It’s an interesting idea presented in a way that recast the examples of fan behavior presented in an entirely new, refined way for me, personally. Many of these actions reminded me of similar patterns in the realm of live entertainment–specifically music concerts, stand-up routines, late-night talk shows, and sitcoms–though what I discuss is not really as influential in the long-term for the performers involved.

Of course, I realize some of you might be thinking “sitcoms aren’t filmed in front of live studio audiences anymore,” but to that I say, have you ever watched The Big Bang Theory without the laugh track? Regardless of whether this canned laughter is authentic or not, it’s critical to the pacing of the show and probably elevates viewer enjoyment, subconsciously or otherwise. The same might be said of late-night talk shows, where I highly doubt anyone would think any of the hosts were so funny that they couldn’t keep from laughing at even the slightest quip. Everyone watching at home/online is aware of this, but it’s all a part of the comedic atmosphere presented. However, the audience members for both sitcoms and late-night talk shows are really limited to roles as spectators and performers, with no real power for creative direction; they just watch and laugh or boo (or gasp or aww, for sitcoms). In contrast, concert and stand-up experiences have a greater depth of engagement than these media because audiences play critical and communal roles to some extent as well.

Whereas the former media have a pretty stable safety net in that audiences almost always react as expected, musicians and comedians alike must rely on their performance ability to secure the desired response. There are countless examples of musicians getting booed off stage and comics being heckled into submission, but in some ways (or many ways, for comedians) this becomes part of the spectacle. For musicians, getting booed off stage becomes an incentive to practice more (or not, if they’re too lazy or drugged out), while heckling can become an opportunity for redemption by having a battle of wits with the problematic spectator who, while critiquing the comedian’s performance, is performing a comedy routine of their own. Additionally, in the worlds of comedy and music, there is almost always a mix of casual and hardcore communities that control the way a performance is structured. While musician’s try to balance set lists combining new releases with past hits and deep cuts popular among early followers, (successful) comedians often write new jokes to avoid awkward encounters with fans that have already heard all of their old material.

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“I Was Stabbed 21 Times by Crazy Fans”: Pro Wrestling and Popular Concerns with Immersive Story Worlds

Posted by taylorbelcher on March 22, 2017

I definitely found the first reading ““I Was Stabbed 21 Times by Crazy Fans”: Pro Wrestling and Popular Concerns with Immersive Story Worlds” very interesting. One of the first quotes that stood out to me was at the top of page 34. It says, “Murray’s 1985 piece quoted earlier emphasizes a concern that those “lower” people cannot ultimately be rescued: “(W)restling is like sex. You can rail against it, legislate against it, condemn it, threaten it with punishment and campaign against it. But you’ll never make it unpopular with the masses.”” I thought this was a clever comparison. Also, in this quote, “Work refers to “any rehearsed or preestablished plan or movement” in wrestling (Kerrick 1980), while “convincing his audience that he is…in great pain or incensed” is called selling…as “the wrestler must sell the spectator, just as a vacuum-cleaner salesman would convince a homeowner” (142–3). In other words, workers must sell if they are going to convince the marks,” I like how it explains and gives another comparison for the reader. It made it easier for me to understand in my opinion. There’s another quote that says, “Wrestling’s “business” was built on the idea that fans were being duped into believing the show was real. And, while wrestling now typically admits “the con” outside the narrative, this language of “fooling the marks” persists.” Like I said before in a previous blog post, I grew up watching wrestling and believed it to be real. When I became aware of all of it being staged and scripted, I kind of lost interest. Lastly, the most interesting part of this essay was when it discussed the many memoirs of wrestlers being attacked by fans.

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Professional Wrestling Pt. 2

Posted by emilyjones232 on March 22, 2017

As I stated in my previous blog post, I have never been a fan of professional wrestling or WWE. But, after watching it in class on Tuesday…

Just kidding, still not a fan. However, I began to truly notice how fake and theatrical the sport is. The sports commentator even called it “sports entertainment.” The two fights we watched in class were completely fake: full of fake punches and fake eyelashes. The wrestlers introductions were made to “taunt” their competitor, but the winner had already been mentally declared by the system.

The wrestlers are truly in it for the fame. The fans of the sport really keep it going through going to the matches and merchandise. At points of watching the fights, I could see why the fans are intrigued: it’s so visually engaging and shocking with every punch. Fans thrive on the atmosphere of the fights, regardless if they acknowledge the fight is staged or not as stated in “The Marks Have Gone Off-Script: Rogue Actors in the WWE’s Stands”. This type of fans is why professional wrestling can still afford to exist.

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