Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mick Foley vs. 20/20

First and foremost, I knew Mick Foley was a pretty down-to-earth guy. That's made blatantly clear through his interviews and his documentary. But it wasn't until starting to read Have a Nice Day! that I began to realize how seriously awesome Mick is; his love for his kids shines through as well as his ability to write in a relaxed way with such a unique fluidity. Brilliant.

But the brilliance doesn't stop there. He puts forth some seriously poignant ideas about wrestling. There are people continuously attacking wrestling, unable to understand how it can be so popular if it's "fake." But Mick puts forth the idea that the real world is more fake than wrestling. And he makes a solid point. After seeing his interview with 20/20 about backyard wrestling, he sees that his words were twisted and taken out of context. They made him out to look like he encouraged reckless and dangerous backyard stunts. He was furious. And even more so after he realized there was literally nothing he could do about it. Their journalism was considered legitimate journalism. And that's what's horrifying. All journalism is like that anymore. A combination of sound bytes and video clips arranged in such a way as to paint the picture they want painted. We saw this happening a lot after the Ferguson shooting. Everyone was twisting the story to fit their opinion and it got to a point where no one knew the whole and complete truth except for the cop and Michael Brown. At least with wrestling now they're up front about the fact that it's all pure entertainment. Yes, people do get legitimately hurt, but the story lines, the characters, they're all very much fake. They only maintain kayfabe to preserve the fun and excitement of it all. But it's not because they're trying to seriously fool anyone. The news, however, does try to fool you because they want you to believe their version of the story.

And when you live in a world where professional wrestling is more trustworthy than the 5 o'clock News, that's a horrifying reality.

5 comments:

Sam Ford said...

Well put, Katie. While "Have a Nice Day" is a fun biography about MIck's own story and his unlikely rise to the top of the wrestling business through a career that took him from the indies to WCW to death matches to ECW to the WWF...I think "Foley Is Good" is much more useful for our purposes, in how it concentrates on a single time period in a wrestler's career, weaves home life with on-screen development with backstage opinions...and makes quite a lot of commentary on the media industries at large, on the culture and craft of wrestling, on the physical realities of wrestling performance, on quite a lot of what we've been talking about and reading...and even on academic research, as you'll see later...

Melissa Smith said...

I get all my news from a VERY trustworthy source (that is, Dr. Rich's class on International Politics) so I don't know what you're talking about. But really, it is scary that the facts from respected news offices is so often skewed to offer a more interesting or better-selling story. In this way, wrestling is almost like an antihero figure in the real world: it is largely looked down upon or sometimes even hated, but it has guts enough to expose the underbelly of our culture, even when it's not very pretty and higher ups might not want it to be seen. Racism, sexism, and other prejudices make it to the squared circle and the people's responses are more genuine watching there than anywhere else. Nobody is going to go out on the street and say that they hate foreigners, but in wrestling it's okay, because the foreign wrestlers are just so hateable.

Sam Ford said...

I've referred to wrestling as a carnival mirror, showing an exaggerated and distorted version of society back to us. And there's something about its uneasy existence both using offensive stereotypes and simultaneously making them ridiculous or parodying them that makes wrestling just so hard to read...as we will discuss today in terms of wrestling's use of parody.

Gary said...

I really believe that wrestling mirrors our society to a large degree, though not as exaggerated and distorted a version as Sam said. I am thinking more into the parallelism aspects. I think this is especially true for wrestling's story-lines. To me, it is on a par with soap operas, both covering social topics and values of the times.

Sam Ford said...

Certainly the topicality of wrestling is one of the best reasons for studying it...In fact, we probably could ave built a whole semester's worth of study just around that...