Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get it? WWE Super Bowl commercial

No, Vince, I don't get it. 

I wish the author tag-team who wrote Sex, Lies, and Headlocks had taken a stab at explaining what Vince meant when he asked if we "got" the WWF attitude as a guy falls out of an exploding office building.

The way I see it, Vince's words have a double meaning.  First, the obvious—get it: an imperative statement, commanding the viewer to watch wrestling, buy wrestling gear, come to live events, and ultimately to invest in the business of the WWF.  The only reason I suggest a second meaning is that Vince's line doesn't sound like an imperative statement.  His tone implies a question, like there's some funny joke that was made, if only you could figure out where the punchline was.  I was left with this feeling for a long time, watching and rewatching the clip to figure out what there was to "get."

I think this second meaning is a joke on the broadcasting company that was unhappy with the vulgararity of the new WWF shows.  In the same way that Triple H and Michaels mocked the new restrictions they were being  put under by reading them on the air  in a rebellious way, I think Vince was also making a statement to the company the was putting restrictions on him.  Maybe his "get it?" was not towards the fans, but towards the company that he was trying to ridicule.

Then again, maybe his question was more of an admission to the viewers:  "You know that this commercial isn't real—we don't really fight like this in the office—and our wrestling show is equally unrealistic (because we actually do all of the things that we just said we don't do), but you should play along.  Get it?"  The explosion and man falling from a high window just helps to emphasize the unlikelihood of this being reality.  What Vince is trying to say is that the WWF is about as real as that big Hollywood explosion.  "Get it?"

Whatever he meant, that Super Bowl commercial was definitely entertaining and controversial, especially at the time when it was first aired.  And look, we are still watching it years later and wondering... What did I miss?

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

I think the timing of this commercial within WWE's "Attitude Era" is key--it certainly was meant and read, at the time, primarily as your second reading of the quote, Melissa: "Get it?" as a question. Wrestling had still been tied up in the popular mind--in how it was covered in the press, in how non-fans talked about the genre, in the traditional mentality of the wrestlers--with that question of "real" versus "fake" and the long-standing traditions of the "abide-by-the-rules" baby face versus the dastardly heel. Vince's idea with this commercial seemed to be to show people who didn't watch or understand wrestling that wrestling fans--and the WWF--are "in on the joke." It was intended as a wink to a.) indicate that wrestling is entertainment and b.) signal to adolescent and adult male wrestling fans that this isn't the cartoon character, "for little kids," show of the 1980s. The use of irony--with visual juxtapositions that counter what the wrestlers are saying--along with a reference to Hollywood production, with explosions and the like. And Vince's weird sense of humor. And it's also a flaunting not only at the constraints of the network but also, I'd say, at family rights groups who were coming after Vince for not promoting family values.

You can read the commercial, in some ways, as a more mainstream message of what Vince had said on his own program many months prior, in basically introducing the "Attitude Era" to WWF fans: (Also quoted verbatim in "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks...)