Monday, October 27, 2014

The Role of the Announcers in the PTC/RTC era

Kathleen Lowney’s article, Wrestling with Criticism, was a very good read and humorous. While I will be leading the discussion on this Monday, I would like to narrowly focus on the role of the announcers during this PTC/RTC era, as I found the additional role of the announcers in framing the irony and satire used against the PTC interesting.

Lowney mentions she spent two years studying the wrestling aspect and, in my opinion, made some great observations regarding the role of the announcers as they certainly helped develop the feeling of the fans feeling censored and the development of the hypocrisy of the RTC wrestlers being bad boy heels, using whatever means to win while professing ethical purity.  

Historically, two announcers would each play a role—one verbalizing the virtues of his heel, the other, praising his good guy, face. The announcers would start with their wrestler’s history and then develop the duality of the wrestlers, defending why the heel had to do his bad thing, or why the face would do his actions in response, and proceed with the color commentary. So, what we have is both the visual wrestling match, and the verbal sparring match between the announcers, in essence two matches.

During Lowney’s two year observations, she noted that the role of the announcers broke this pattern, but changed only during the RTC matches, and no other matches. The change was that both announcers never said one positive thing about the RTC matches or wrestlers, and that both called the RTC moral hypocrites, and verbalized disgust for their conservative ideology. The announcers commented on whether the RTC wanted to shut down the WWF or that their families would be in financial trouble. Jerry Lawler’s (then announcer) comments on not having the ability of showing “women’s puppies,” would be the saddest day in TV history is classic.

In short, the announcers now set up a potent rhetorical weapon against the PTC/RTC and it was used effectively.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

I think it's a very useful thread of one of the cues WWE sends its audience regarding its this case, flagging something that should be of particular concern to the fans. WCW did this regarding the "New World Order" takeover...when all the announcers, in the early days of the nWo, were against this outside force which was attempting to put them out of a job. When used very sparingly, that sort of announcer alignment can be very useful, because it gives the audience a sense of, "This is different." WWE's framing of moral do-gooders is especially interesting in that it took the model of "conversion" often praised in Christianity or other social groups and turned it for ill, framing it as a "heel conversion" for a pimp and a porn star to turn their back on their careers and become "do-gooders"...but do-gooders who judge the rest of society, etc.

Less in response to an outside societal force, WWE reused the basic template of this plot several years later with the character C.M. Punk. Punk, who promotes openly his adherence to a "straight edge" lifestyle, in which he recruited others of "weak character" to join them and helped make sure they didn't imbibe alcohol and the like...and he judged the fans and other wrestlers for not being of as strong a moral character and angered people with his pious judging. "Straight edge means...I'm better than you," he would say.