This NY Times article explains the political world today: Is everything wrestling?.
This is partly because the rest of the world has caught up to wrestling’s ethos. With each passing year, more and more facets of popular culture become something like wrestling: a stage-managed “reality” in which scripted stories bleed freely into real events, with the blurry line between truth and untruth seeming to heighten, not lessen, the audience’s addiction to the melodrama.
It’s so true that you can’t help but laugh. In the course of our blog “conversations,” for a long time I struggled to explain basic math, basic facts, and what constitutes the difference between a truth and a lie. I now realize the problem. Other people have adopted the pro-wrestling ethos. Meanwhile, I’ve been stuck with these outdated traditional ideas like truth, fact, and common sense. Pro-wrestling is all about emotion. It’s about drama. He who creates the most drama and sells the most tickets wins.
I remember watching wrestling as a kid during the WWF days. Everything in wrestling is staged, including the commentators. As an eight-year-old, I remember hearing one commentator who was always biased against the good guys. I think it was either “Nature Boy” Ric Flair or Jesse “The Body” Ventura. The bad guys would flamboyantly “cheat” by getting help from their friends or kicking an opponent after faking an injury (because it’s all staged). They’d get a lecture from the referee, and the commentator would shout, “This is a conspiracy!” It was clear that the bad guys were cheating, and yet the commentator would go off on how biased the refs were, despite the fact that the “cheating” was intentional and clear as day.
In a way, it’s ingenious. Even as a young kid, I eventually came around and enjoyed the biased commentary for the spectacle of ridiculousness that the commentator brought. But that pro wrestling ethos has now infiltrated our politics. Donald Trump can call his business bankruptcies a success. He can fleece innocent people out of their money with Trump university. He can call Mexicans “rapists” before telling people that he loves Mexicans. Hillary Clinton can tell us that her use of a private server was approved, even though as Secretary of State she knew for a fact that it was never approved. Affirmative Action supporters can argue that the rules of a zero sum game apply when black people are negatively affected by Asian competition, but that the rules no longer apply when Asian people are negatively affected by affirmative action policies.
I’m just wondering when this all will end. Yes, it’s amusing. Yes, we love to watch the heel loudly complain about conspiracies. But at some point, there’s real work that we need to get done. The theatrics can only take us so far.