Sunday, October 19, 2014

Does violence mirror society? Foley's take

In Foley’s book, Foley Is Good, Foley goes into how he pitched a match to McMahon, where Foley could show how bad a heel The Rock was, by having Foley say “I Quit.” Foley would also bring his wife and kids to the Royal Rumble, and his wife would “throw in the towel” for Foley, by saying he quits… Vince agreed to it, and after the fifth hit over the head with a steel chair, Noelle would call it quits for Mick. One of the things Foley was worried about was reopening a cut on his head and bleed. All of this in the background of the wrestling industry being under scrutiny from the Parents Television Council on one side of the spectrum to Muslims on the other side.

As it turns out, the match script was changed, and for Foley it was a disaster in terms what he was concerned about, the blood and the script, which The Rock didn’t follow (according to Foley.) Rock hit Foley almost double the number of times he was supposed to—not waiting the minute or two in-between as he was supposed to, but just seconds between. Foley could not recover, although he was really hurting and bleeding profusely, all this made worse by being handcuffed. So much for the Parents Television Council. Foley’s wife and kids were in the audience and their terror of the match could be seen.

In his book, Foley defends the violence of wrestling, saying that it actually mirrors society by giving fans what they want. He compares violence in wrestling to traditional stories such as Hansel and Gretel (child abuse, imprisonment, murder by oven,) Sleeping Beauty (rape, adultery, attempted cannibalism), etc and others. In my opinion, although the symbolism is there in fairy tales, the actual acts are not. Fairy tales are many times told in order to keep children from doing things, keeping them on the right track of societal norms or beliefs of the time, or to warn them as a consequence of their impending actions.  He compares wrestling violence to movies such as Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator.

Foley then goes into wrestling violence versus other sports, such as baseball with Roger Clemens hitting Mike Piazza in the head with a fastball, or hockey (where stitches number in the hundreds), or football when Joe Theismann had a compound leg fracture from a Lawrence Taylor hit. I consider these Foley examples to be relatively seldom occurring events. Of course, in terms of today’s society, there is a great deal of concern currently both in amateur football and pro ball with the head concussions. So maybe Foley was on to something. Or, is it a product of Foley’s time, and is it now reflective of our time? 

Reminder, I will be out for the rest of this week. 


Sam Ford said...

Certainly, you can read a fair amount of defensiveness in Foley's points, and a great deal of cherry-picking. But he was also doing some of that tongue-in-cheek, I think...openly acknowledging it but expressing what he saw as a double-standard in how people talk about and evaluate wrestling. My takeaway was his point that a.) life is violent, so should we be all that surprised that the performance of violence in wrestling is part of it? b.) wrestling fans seem to like it when they catch glimpses that the guys are often good friends backstage because, while people like to blur the line, they are also attracted to wrestling, especially these days, because they like the PERFORMANCE of violence by guys who they know AREN'T trying to hurt each other; and c.) perhaps one of the best points he has made on this point in our reading thus far...there's a strange paradox that wrestling was soundly criticized for being fake when it was trying to purport to be real and, now that it's openly admitting it's real, it's being criticized as being violent and barbaric...

Timothy S. Rich said...

This is one of my favorite points in the book: that seem to accept wrestling as "fake" or at least less than what is portrayed, but rarely stop to consider how other mediums may be just as scripted.

In some ways it reminds me of coverage of most "reality" television shows. Even the casual observer can tell that through editing and selective prodding, a narrative is generated that may have very little to do with the actual interactions of the show.

Then of course there are the interactions when one scripted entity (WWE) attempts to get into reality television (Tough Enough; Total Divas), usually with mixed results.

Gary said...

If you think about it, there is a lot in life that is scripted, from what we do every day to what we wear, to the news on TV (most certainly scripted and framed). I think Foley cut himself short with his tongue-and-cheek approach in defense of wrestling.