Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Video 3 - ethnic stereotyping

I chose this match between Antonio Rocca and Karl Von Hess in the 1961 event at Comisky Park in 6/61 as a good example of ethnic stereotyping, which has long been popular in wrestling. I also chose this video, as compared to other possible videos of ethnic stereotyping, due to the location and this time period in wrestling history. It offers us a glimpse of the past in terms of wrestling text as opposed to what we see today.  Rocca has been a fan favorite for some time, while in the 50s, Von Hess changed his image to a Nazi sympathizer, and was a supreme heel; fans absolutely hated him. Yet he drew huge crowds until the early 60s when his Nazi angle wore thin. Politically, the US was more concerned about the Cold War at this time, which intensified during the 60s. Von Hess, the arch villainous Nazi heel actually was raised in Omaha and was in the Navy as part of their underwater demolition team before he entered professional wrestling.

Rocca’s always gave a great performance using his feet as a weapon, and in general being very agile in the ring. The fans loved his showmanship and style of wrestling. On the other hand, Von Hess embodied a cultural myth taken from post WWII of a Nazi German. Back in those days, a wrestler did not need a big backstory of his character as he was already culturally stereotyped, and wrestling had plenty of ethnic stereotyping as early storylines which can play out in many ways (from our reading of Battema and Sewell.) In this video, you can see him dressed in a kind of military pants. The announcer says he attended the German-Prussian Academy at 4:50. This is in the era where there was actually some wrestling going on, although seemingly boring as compared to the modern day. 

Incidentally, this match took place AFTER the main event in which Buddy Rogers beat O'Connor for the title, and the announcer mentions that no one left the park.

If we have time, here is one of the funniest interviews I have seen from the 60s period... not your typical ringside interview.

It starts at about 28 seconds in... 

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