Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Geeks, Freaks, and Midgets

Haven't had the chance to touch on it yet, so I wanted the chance to look into Drawing Heat and just give my own personal take of it. There were many things that held my attention throughout the story, but I just want to touch on the three most interesting parts of Drawing Heat here, to me anyways.

First - the story of da bears (use of 'da' - a small acknowledgement of my fallen hometown football team). I think that out of everything there was to look at in Drawing Heat, this was the story that captivated me the most. When the Wildman and "the Professor" were out on their way to pick up Spooky, about to embark on a promotional campaign with him for one of Wildman's shows, we got a glimpse into the past of who I consider to be an entrepreneur. Here was a guy in the Wildman who never had it easy but always tried and always seemed to know exactly what he was doing, and could always see exactly what the fans wanted to see - and had no qualms in giving it to them. I think the use of the bears in itself was brilliant, because people are just naturally drawn to these kinds of things. Why? Well, I don't know - personally if I saw a bear in the streets, my first inclination would be to run - but I know that out of morbid curiosity, I would go and see what all the commotion was about.

The thing that got me the most though was how he kept coming back to the bears even with the personal tragedy of losing his girlfriend to one of them in his past. It was like Freedman noted - he lost everything after that and had to start from scratch. I would have to think that almost anyone that this happened to would never want to see a bear again, but Dave just seemed like an honestly good person who hated to see his bears mistreated, even after what happened. I think Freedman drove that point home when he said that Dave had a heart that was probably too big for the business he was in.

Secondly, and I won't touch on this too much because I've seen some posts already get into it, but the differences between Mazer's experience and Freedman's experience are very interesting and at times glaring. Both share the academic accomplishments, but Freedman is welcomed into the masculine world of professional wrestling while Mazer is practically ostricized. Granted, she had to "pay her dues" in her own way so to speak, but "the Professor" didn't have this glaring kind of problem with Dave, even though one could say he did have it with Tunney in the very beginning. This is just another example of the fact that even when times change, pro wrestling is a man's game through and through.

Third thing that struck me was the powerful insight the Wildman seemed to have when he was running his shows. He didn't have the promotional powers of say, a current day Vince McMahon, but he worked with what he had. Even though he was a threat to other local promoters, he kept coming and kept trying to do what he loved to do, which was run a good show that could, well, draw heat. It was particularly interesting the lengths Tunney went through by trying to get Dave's wrestling license revoked, which for me brought to light the fact that these guys were competitors from day one. By these guys I mean all the promoters. Wildman was right - in the end, it made no difference, because they all lost out to Vince who "took over," just like he predicted.

All in all it was an enjoyable read that gave an enlightening view to what's always been a tough and competitive business. It almost made me upset to know that Vince came in and cost good guys like Dave their work by raiding their talent and the like, but these things existed before. Vince was just the last person standing, far from being the only person who ever tried.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

One thing we should keep in mind is that, even after the Vince McMahon era, there are still plenty of Wildman-style shows running around the country. It's extremely hard to draw big money with them, since so much more "big time wrestling" is available on television these days, but the model hasn't gone away by any means. Joshua Shea, who posts here from time-to-time, can share plenty of insight into the independent wrestling scene, as well as Mark Volzer, who will be visiting us later this semester.

But I think you have some great takes on the Wildman's story and am glad that you shared your reaction with us since you weren't able to be in class last Thursday. I, too, am intrigued by the Wildman and his own theories, the way he is a mythic character and also a philosopher of sorts, as Freedman describes him.