Sunday, November 2, 2014

Goldust's Character in Wrestling



The article Goldust and the World of Wrestling, by Grubisic, was interesting from the standpoint the author focusing on Goldust who brought homosexuality into the ring and the wrestling world via McMahon who created this character. Prior to 1995, Goldust was known as Dustin Rhodes, and better yet, he is the son of Dusty Rhodes. The author relates that the arrival of Goldust brought controversy to wrestling by his performances of “flamboyant homosexual masculinity,” and that no real sexual behavior existed in the ring before Goldust, and that sexuality has no place in the ring, However, sexism itself does exist, e.g. bikini-clad women, and the dress of female wrestlers.

Grubisic states that once Goldust was on the scene, there was immediate controversy due to his behavior and attire. According to fans, other wrestlers, and media types, Goldust went too far, his persona hits too close to home, becoming too real. The media and fans thought the Goldust character was inciting hatred for homosexuals. He also polarized the fans.

The author also mentions that Goldust brings to the ring a festive, folk carnival like performance as mentioned from Bakhtin. Yet, Goldust’s multilayered persona also shows sexual aggression towards the fans at times further enhancing his villainous character. Another layer of Goldust was when he came to the defense of Marlena, and because of this, fans warmed up to him as Goldust defended her honor, pounded his opponent, Vador—a  very gentlemanly thing to do, thereby giving the audience the framing of the different modes of “manliness.”

To me, Goldust serves the fans as a very complicated wrestler (if you read deep enough), one with many layers since his first appearance in the ring. The real question was McMahon smart enough back in 1995 to foresee this “social issue” in terms of society mirroring wrestling?  I don’t know when this article was written, but certainly as the walls against homosexuality are falling down in today’s society, Goldust should now have more acceptance by the fans and less polarization—unless McMahon wants it another way.

3 comments:

Sam Ford said...

There were just a lot of modes through which Goldust could be read: longtime wrestling fans, who were taken aback by a performance of masculinity that had often been hinted at but never performed so overtly; wrestlers, who had a wide range of mixed reactions to the gimmick and to being part of storylines involving the character; conservative groups, who attacked it as an affront to family appropriate television and an example of pro wrestling's degradation and inappropriateness for children; a queer politics angle that, I think, read this in a tradition of sexual politics that overtly and controversially challenged and questions mores and valued making people uncomfortable in provocative ways; and, as wrestling tends to do in being transgressive--also liberal concerns about how wrestling encourages certain types of homophobic sentiments to be expressed by the face. I look forward to talking this through more in class on Wednesday, as you can see it feeds quite well into the discussion of Wrestling with Manhood as well...And, along with Wednesday's readings regarding performance of race in wrestling, etc., alongside masculinity...there should be lots to discuss.

Marshall Metcalf said...

I think the concept of sexuality within pro wrestling is an interesting one. With homosexual undertones throughout most of wrestling, Goldust was a huge eye opener. A lot of people found him disturbing and the crowd's hatefulness (and how he was treated on stage) was quite offensive. However, I think that the way the female characters are portrayed within wrestling is far more offensive. They are often treated as just sex toys.

Sam Ford said...

I agree that, traditionally, the treatment of female characters is even more disturbing because it's more systemic: Goldust was intended to be a shock to the system, a challenge of the status quo, a provocateur..what's more disturbing about much of the treatment of the characters is just how mundane and normalized it has been at times...