Monday, November 10, 2014

Generational Perspective

It was an interesting read of Henry Jenkins IV, Afterword, Part II, as it took us into wrestling through a different perspective, as seen through an adolescent young man who grew up in the WWF era. He opens with the “merch” he used, from vitamins, to cookies, least we not forget the marketing penetration wrestling had in our everyday lives.

He also tied into the Internet and how he used this to further explore the wrestling culture and more importantly gather and share information, as opposed to his father who became out of touch with wrestling. He mentions how he has seen wrestling change and grow, but what I found most interesting was his perspective on what wrestling had to do in order to appeal to an adult audience; that is to kill wrestling’s moralistic code in favor of nihilism.  He gives examples, such as the popularity of Steve Austin for going after the establishment’s Vince McMahon, and an example of Stephanie.  

I agree with Jenkin’s take on the wrestling interview, changing from a local venue to be structured nationally in scope, but yet allowing the characters to maintain a real world appearance with interviews at local outside venues. This is definitely more modern. Today, we see this when they fight it out in a garage or parking lot.

He used Shawn Michael’s collapse and the concern it caused thereafter as a point in time for WWF’s evolution from fantasy to “structured reality.” Another example would be Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler’s “fight” on the Letterman show. This blending of reality and fiction was the shift of the WWF along with a change in its characters that were portrayed.

Jenkin’s finalizes his article with what wrestling stopped doing, which is dropping the political satires and archetypes of the 80s, and moving into the next generation’s mood and artistic trends. I thought this was a very good insight and perspective from a unique generational aspect.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

I think Henry IV (who I know as "Charlie Jenkins," which is the name he publishes under now) really shows us some of the shift we've been reading and thinking about from an industrial perspective, a wrestling industry perspective, or a cultural perspective instead from the story of a single fan. Of course, when we view wrestling from the audience, this demonstrates what wrestling "means" to those who watch. Much of it is about your personal memory of how the stories intersect with your life, your experience in the fan community around the text, etc. I found it particularly fascinating that Charlie couldn't find the answers in the box of tapes he had and found his own personal memory and narrative a much more satisfying way to make sense of wrestling's recent history...This view of wrestling from the eyes of its it as legitimate, or more legitimate, than understanding wrestling just from the text itself, or from the business stories of the companies that present it? I'd love to tackle that a bit in class today.