Wrestling With the Margins

The academy puts on its tights and steps into the ring

"The politics of political incorrectness is often looking for fault lines in culture. It is not television for swing states," the elder Jenkins said. He neither defends nor condemns professional wrestling's transgressions; rather, his ideas function as a map with which to navigate the confused politics of the WWE. It is socially conservative, but it is out to fuck GOP political correctness in a way that seems to trumpet free speech. It is self-consciously a business, and stands for business interests. But, Jenkins asks, wouldn't it stand for unions? Vince McMahon solidly supports the Iraq war, but given the heightening struggle between military leadership and ground troops lacking armor or clear command, he and his business might side with the troops.

The younger Jenkins's portion of the afterword looks at the WWF-WWE wave of wrestling's developmental cycle, through youth to raunchy adolescence (the years of queer-baiting and burying opponents alive) and into adulthood. "Yeah, I'd say WWE is acting thirtysomething and married now."

What would Barthes do? Pro grappler the Plague, 2004
photo: Thomas McGovern
What would Barthes do? Pro grappler the Plague, 2004

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    "It's on the decline," Sammond agrees, but foresees wrestling being rejuvenated at the local level, where new story lines can develop and genuine characters emerge. "I don't think it will ever decline completely. As long as there are people out there who identify with those on the margins, it will continue."

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