Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

America’s Male Soap Opera

Posted by Drake Kizer on March 20, 2017

Today’s readings were a selection of works that Sam wrote about professional wrestling. I noticed that the two pieces, titled “Mick Foley: Pro Wrestling and the Contradictions of the Contemporary American Hero” and “WWE’s Story World and the Potentials of Transmedia Storytelling”, were listed under a new heading on the syllabus: “Understanding Professional Wrestling.” A shift in our class’s focus could not have been more welcomed, as all the talk of soap operas was getting very old and tiresome.

Both pieces turned out to be very interesting to me, but that is probably due to my own positive attitude toward professional wrestling. I have been a fan off and on for my entire life, and watching and following the so-called “male soap opera” has been something me and my dad have bonded over for years. One of the key things that stuck out to me was in the excerpt about Mick Foley, particularly how he appealed to fans because he was “positioned as a representative of [them].” Relatability and reality is what makes wrestling so enticing to some people, and the reality aspect piques the interests of many fans.

The other essay, which was about how WWE’s stories lend themselves to transmedia storytelling, contained a lot of information that really appealed to me. One thing that really caught my eye was a discussion pertaining to how sometimes wrestling storylines blur the lines between fantasy and reality, including mentions of the Matt Hardy, Lita, and Edge love triangle, or the McMahon family’s decision to “make themselves the primary villains of [their] show in the late 1990s.” I have learned through our class’s discussions that WWE fans are very comparable to soap opera fans, mostly due to their inclination to discuss storylines and also voice their displeasure with how the action is unfolding if it does not please them. Looking back, me and my dad have discussed wrestling storylines as if we really know the people in them all the time, even though we “openly [acknowledge] wrestling as entertainment [only].”


3 Responses to “America’s Male Soap Opera”

  1. tristendenney14 said

    This is a really good post Drake. I too agree that the soap opera discussions were starting to become repetitive, so this change came at a perfect time. Also, I really liked your line about professional wrestling being “male soap operas” because there are a lot of similarities. Therefore, just like you wrote, although professional wrestling has the ability to constantly engulf some audiences’ attention, others view it simply as a source of entertainment.

  2. kaufmansw said

    I was relieved to get out of the soap operas as well. While they taught me a lot, I still wasn’t thrilled. I used to look down upon my brother who played WWE video games. I thought they were immature but after going back and watching a match or two, I gained a great appreciation for it.

  3. emilyjones232 said

    I really like the title of your essay. The fan base of wrestling is truly one I’d compare to soap operas.

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