Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thoughts on WWF "RAW" Study

My first impression of Dr. Gantz's WWF Raw Study was that it was a little out of place within the context of the wrestling. It seemed way too objective of an approach to understanding wrestling as a form of entertainment (indeed, almost like a bad science fair project). Nevertheless, it helped me understand the point of view of an outsider looking into the world of wrestling.

As someone who didn't really follow wrestling very much, I would have probably adopted Gantz's study as the reason why I didn't watch wrestling. Wrestling was a poor attempt at sport with overdramatic performers who championed stupid sayings, lewd behavior, and really bad acting. It simply didn't seem worth watching.

Taking this class has undoubtedly affected how I feel about wrestling now. I haven't become a full-fledged fan of the performance, but I have changed my way of approaching it. Wrestling, probably more than your average social phenomenon, deserves a good second look. You really can't take it at face value. The gestures, the garb, the overhyped fans are only part of the performance. It is these things--the heart of Gantz's study--that we notice when we're flipping through the channels on our tv sets. For some, it is what makes them keep flipping; for others, it may be what piques their interest. It is not, however, all that wrestling has to offer.

Gantz's work is certainly fuel for those who find wrestling to be an abominable practice. His focus is on elements of the story that the WWF program tells, but not the whole story itself. It takes much more than tabulation to fully appreciate and understand the dynamic that is wrestling. Emphasis should be placed on the social impact that wrestling has on the sports and enterainment businesses and not on a few artifacts of its presentation.


Sam Ford said...

The key to Gantz's numbers in themselves and the full list that you can look over linked on the Web site, is that Walt's study just provides statistics that the press went nuts with. Walt seems like a good guy; I don't think his goal was to create social panic or anything of the sort, but the methodology of projects like this raise interesting questions.

I was at a panel on soap opera last week (I write and watch a lot of soap opera BTW), and the head of our panel had done a project on violence in soap operas. I started asking questions like, if verbal violence is considered indeed violence and if expletives are considered one type of violence, threats another, a raised voice another, can't one statement simultaneously be multiple counts of verbal violence. The answer was yes.

The problem is that these numbers don't come with all those corrolaries when people compile them into lists and statistics and act as if they are unquestionable and irrefutable evidence...

Ismael said...

It seems like the study was done by a non-partial observer who had every intention of discouraging people from wrestling. The fact that the person conducting the study was a doctor makes it seem more legitimate than it might've been. I thought it was funny how he shaped the data a certain way, but never commented on what was characterized as what. Anything could be made to seem worse than it really is if enough effort is put into it. I don't think I've ever really heard positive comments about wrestling since I've watched it. Wrestling is so unique from anything else on tv that it should be praised rather than condemned. And if it seems too extreme or outrageous, just change the channel.

Sam Ford said...

"It seems like the study was done by a non-partial observer who had every intention of discouraging people from wrestling."

But, Ismael, wouldn't that make him a partial observer?