I’ve seriously seen enough “politics is like pro wrestling” articles to choke a horse. On this site alone, there are scads of them. Some pieces nicely break down the language of pro wrestling (heels, faces, and all that other “insider” talk) and some pieces are full of condescending snark from those that are “above” that sort of thing. Even though, you know, they’re writing about it too. There are also scores of them outside this site, especially during this volatile election cycle. One of the better ones I’ve read goes beyond politics and talks about culture as a whole.
Aside from obvious points and comparisons, there’s one I have yet to see. One that affects this election cycle in particular. One I’m having to slightly renege on a statement I made last time I was here to point it out:
Politi — no, forget that. Even if I had something to say, I’m not inviting an argument from either side.
Now, I say slightly renege because I’m still not diving into the fray. I’m not dogging one candidate/party and lifting up another candidate/party to show some kind of intellectual superiority and/or declare what’s best for ‘Murica. In fact, I’m not taking sides at all because I’m not interested in a debate or argument. I’m not that concerned with convincing anyone that my opinion is right (which is a fallacy that many professional and amateur pundits have yet to notice). I’m much more interested in looking at the process and why this cycle as a whole seems a rather nauseating one.
So, the disclaimer is out of the way. We can get to this proper.
The current WWE Champion is a guy (stage-)named Roman Reigns. Chiseled, handsome, well-spoken dude. Everything a company like WWE could look for in a champion. Except for being well-liked. Because WWE’s fan base hasn’t warmed up to Reigns the way the company may want them to. Despite being one of the heroes of the show in so far as his portrayal, fans boo him pretty steadily whenever he’s present. It’s gotten to to a point that, in order to stave off some of the negative reaction (or rub it in their faces, either way), one of his catchphrases now is, “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m the guy.”
The WWE fan base complains a lot — many times justifiably so. Being the biggest wrestling company in the world by wide margins, WWE is seen as the standard bearer. And fans think the “standard bearer” is still drowning in archaic thinking when it comes to their stories and their characters. They seem like they would much rather have someone who can perform the job exceptionally but may not meet all of the corporate metrics in terms of a certain look or charisma (as was the case with Daniel Bryan’s popularity before he was forced to retire due to injuries). Yet, despite all of the booing of chosen champion Reigns and constantly decrying the product that WWE produces on a weekly basis, many of those same fans still tune in each Monday night to watch the show. It seems fans tune in because, like it or not, WWE is far and away the top wrestling company in the world and looking for a much more enjoyable alternative seems too much like work.
Much of the same seems to be happening with this year’s presidential election cycle. Each party has a chosen candidate that they have thrown their weight behind. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, like Roman Reigns, have more than their fair share of detractors. Those detractors also still seem to follow their every move watching for a mistake made or hang on their every word listening for a mis-slip of the tongue. Of course, electing the next leader of the free world is much more important than the television ratings of a wrestling program. However, the mindset remains similar because they stick with what’s in front of them no matter how much they hate it because it’s easier than working to find a true alternative.
It would be easy to dismiss the idea of a true alternative even existing, especially given the limited scope of media coverage of the election. And therein lies a portion of the problem. How would one know unless he or she steps outside the confines of corporate media to look elsewhere? This seems to be exactly what both major political parties are counting on. The idea that the “big two” political parties in the US are the big two for a reason and they’re firmly in control simply because they have been for the longest time is a notion that very few challenge — probably because both parties have the money, resources, and media coverage to make sure it stays that way. Who’s going to quit playing the MSNBC-CNN-Fox shell game long enough to notice anyone else? The answer is, not enough people to matter. So both parties are able to present their chosen candidates, the public may or may not find deplorable, and neither party has to care because those candidates fit right in line with their outlook and both parties still maintain control of the market share of the attention in the media as well as control of the US political system.
Much the same can be said about WWE. The fans in the arenas and at home don’t like Roman Reigns and voice that opinion loudly. Yet, an average of 3.5 million people watch WWE’s flagship “Monday Night Raw” show each week. The company has well over a million subscribers to its WWE Network on-demand service, which contributed toward a first quarter revenue this year of $171.1 million. From a business and financial standpoint, WWE has no reason to care about whether or not people like Roman Reigns because fans are still watching now matter how many change.org petitions are created to oust him as WWE Champion. The company can present whoever it sees fit in that top spot because people are still tuning into programming and spending their money with the company.
Just like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Just like the Republican and Democratic parties.
It all comes down to power and the money, money and the power. Whomever has those can present whoever they damned well please to be the public face of their company or their party. And no matter how loudly the hoi polloi complain or shake their fists, the status quo will remain the same. Because those rabble will always give the power to those who already have it by not turning away from the spectacle and looking for better alternatives elsewhere.