Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Why Study Profeesional Wrestling?

Hi Sam,

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but I've always liked it!

I would recommend the article itself and I've included the link at the end!


David Haecker, Crossing the Line Between Entertainment and Reality: A Sociological Analysis of Collective Behavior in Professional Wrestling

Why Study Professional Wrestling?

The phenomenon that I believe is important for sociological study is how the wrestlers create an “emotional rollercoaster” that takes the fans on a ride into near riot conditions, and after the catharsis moment (the end of the match), all is in harmony once again. The collective unity of the crowd that the wrestlers achieve is an art form but also a systematic manipulation of the crowd. A set of structures are at hand in how the wrestlers use combat to tell the story of the wrestling match. Professional wrestling reproduces the excitement and interaction from its events on a regular basis. While there are many different variations of these interactions, the persuasions are approximately the same. Wrestlers have seen the world in a way very few people experience. They use their influence for the collective behavior of a vast demographic of people with various backgrounds, interests, and ideals. Professional wrestling may yield answers to the study of collective behavior by how it uses predicted responses of crowd reactions on a consistent basis. This achieves a planned outcome that generates the appropriate conclusion for those who control the shows. The outcome of a wrestling match works as a release of emotion and anxiety that has been built from the ground up in a live setting using unaware but primed people. This I believe is an important area of study.




Sam Ford said...

We talked quite a bit about catharsis and comparing it to the effects theories of other researchers, so this is an interesting study. Thanks for linking to it. What do you know about the background of this particular study, and how did you come across it?

katejames said...

David- I think it's a really interesting idea that the audience performance can be so hgihly orchestrated/ indicated... that it might feel spontaneous and even riotous, but there is a specific manipulative performance sequence engaging audience emotions.

So, in order to elicit the properly dramatic response to my reseacrh paper, I'm going to structure it similarly:
-Establish babyface and heel (wrestling and contemporary performance art, respectively)
-Babyface showcase (y'know, the wrestling is a worthwhile media to study schtick, here in terms of engagement with the discursive body)
-Heel in control (performance art makes a credibility posturing, flexes its upper-class mucles and consequent warm cultural reception)
-Ray of hope (but wrestling allows for a discursive body to exist in a more consumable, wide-reaching format, and its audience is active in the dynamic discourse of the wrestlers' body- take that, art!)
-Final heat (Performance art designs body engagement based on theoretical frameworks and art history trajectories; it is a consciously discursive physical performance, this is what allows it to be taken on a 'higher level'. it intends to better culture through pointed interrogation of norms. wrestling presents those norms for cultural intergration.)
-Superman comeback (But wrestling does exactly the same! By existing in the realm of parody and melodrama, it approaches issues of the body with similar complexity and intention. But its project takes place within a consumer economy instead of an elitist community, which allows louder and more meaningful interrogations)
-The Finish (everyone's down; the ref needs to go write a thesis proposal)

david everard said...

Hi Sam,

A colleague of mine forwarded the article a little while ago. I've always liked the idea of why we study pro-wrestling and thought I'd pass it on.

As for why I study the subject perhaps this paraphrase from my thesis will be of some help:

I examined western theatre from its origins in ancient Greece to the present day in order to apply a theatrical model to pro-wrestling.
With this in place, I could clearly see how the idea of predetermining the action, intrigue and outcome of a dramatic event was the keystone on which professional wrestling rests,

david everard said...

Hi Kate,

That sure works for me, but I usually boil it down to these five elements for match structure:

2-equal turns on top
3-heel heat
4-hope spots

Personally, I loosely structured my thesis using the components of an ancient Greek play;

Parados - lit rev
Agon - argument

good luck!

Sam Ford said...

Kate, that sounds like great structure for an academic work. :) Nothing like high and low culture going head to head. I have occasionally done presentations where I promote Shakespeare vs. McMahon in true carnival barker fashion, as I may have mentioned before...

And thanks, David, for the extra info.