Professional Wrestling

Politics and Populism
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A wildly popular form of mass media and live entertainment, professional wrestling makes a spectacle of violent acts. With its long history of working contemporary events into storylines and commenting upon cultural and military conflicts, professional wrestling is also intrinsically political. Its performance—theatricalities, machinations and conditions of production, figurations, and audiences—arises from and engages with the world around. Whether flowing with the mainstream of popular culture or fighting at the fringes, professional wrestling shows us how we are fighting, what we are fighting about, and what we are fighting for.

This edited volume asks how professional wrestling is implicated in the current resurgence of populist politics, whether right-wing and Trump–inflected, or leftist and socialist. How might it do more than reflect and, in so doing, reaffirm the status quo? While provoked by the disruptive performances of Trump as candidate and president, and mindful of his longstanding ties to the WWE, this timely volume looks more broadly and internationally at the infusion of professional wrestling’s worldview into the twinned discourses of politics and populism. The contributors are scholars from a wide range of disciplines: theater and performance studies; cultural, media, and communication studies; anthropology and sociology; and gender and sexuality studies. Together they argue that the game’s popularity and its populist tendencies open it to the left as well as to the right, to contestation as well as to conformity, making it an ideal site for working on feminist and activist projects and ideas.

 

Contents

Introduction

SHARON MAZER, HEATHER LEVI, EERO LAINE, NELL HAYNES

 

Why It Mattered: Wrestling Dramaturgy in the 2016 Presidential Election

HEATHER LEVI

 

A Mega Power Implodes: Donald Trump, Presidential Performativity and Professional Wrestling

SHARON MAZER

 

Being Booked to Win: The ‘Rigged Game’ of Professional Wrestling and American Politics

SHANA TOOR

 

‘What’s Best for Business’: Professional Wrestling and Capitalist Appropriation

ERIC KENNEDY

 

Transnationalism, Activism and Professional Wrestling

J. H. ROBERTS

 

Breakneck Brexit: Engaging with Political Storytelling in Live Professional Wrestling

ANNETTE HILL   

 

Is this Progress? Punk, Participation and the (Potential) Radical Politics of British Professional Wrestling

BENJAMIN LITHERLAND, TOM PHILLIPS and CLAIRE WARDEN  

 

Support Your Local Girl Gang: Feminist Resistance in the UK’s Independent Wrestling Scene

HEATHER BANDENBURG

 

Wradical Wrestling: What Happens When Womxn Run the Ring

AMY SIEGEL

 

Cheering the Collective Lucha: Populist Discourse in Bolivian Politics and Wrestling

NELL HAYNES

 

Kayfabe: Optimism, Cynicism, Critique

EERO LAINE

 

The Money and the Miles

LARRY DEGARIS

 

Afterword

SHARON MAZER, HEATHER LEVI, EERO LAINE, NELL HAYNES

ISBN: 9780857427946
Size: 6" x 9"
Format: Paperback
Publication Year: November 2020
Pages: 252, 13 halftones
Rights: UCP
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