The Wright piece on Owen Hart got me thinking, on a number of levels, and grieving. A lot of people are talking about grieving right now, of course; Dennis Prager wrote an interesting article about appropriate and inappropriate methods. The article is here. I'm not posting it because I agree with it per se--Prager is a fascinating case study for the art of rhetoric, but he's also, in my opinion, consistently wrong about everything--but because it correctly asserts that people express grief in many ways, some of which are mutually exclusive.
Sometimes, seemingly contradictory rituals go together. The funeral and the wake come to mind: the first, a solemn recognition of sadness and loss, the second a celebration of not only the life lost, but often life itself, in all its undignified glory. In everything we've read about Hart's death, the question is raised about what Hart would have wanted. Specifically, would he have wanted the show to go on?
I think it's this tension that causes the semiotic schizophrenia Wright describes. It makes sense, on a general level, to not break completely from character, from business, or from revelry in a tribute to a dead wrestler. It makes sense, that is, if the wrestler identifies himself with the sport, and with the organization: if celebrating the life necessarily entails celebrating wrestling. It seems to me that an "authentic" tribute, in which there was no gratuitous sex or violence, and in which all performers appeared under their real names, would seem out of place for certain wrestlers, in the same way that I think a eulogy for George Carlin would be incomplete without a healthy dose of profanity. If Steve Austin were to have died while working for the WWE, I can't imagine the tribute wouldn't involve beer drinking or middle fingers. The wake model seems most appropriate.
For Owen Hart, though, who was lionized for his integrity and his recognition that his family was more important than his job, it seems out of place to celebrate the job alongside the man. I see no fundamental problem with the "strong hyperreality" described by Wright in a tribute to an archetypal dead wrestler, but it presents a rather difficult problem when applied to Owen Hart.