Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Washed Up Rockstar Dogwhistles Fascists While Employer is Bought Out by Neonazis

It's straight up @TwoHeadlines, except the comedy is that they haven't been juxtaposed. So here's how it reads:
Washed Up Rockstar Dogwhistles Fascists While Employer Is Bought Out By Neonazis
Something like that, you know. I'd send it to somebody in the copy room to punch up, but that's not really in the cards. Which are subject to change, if you catch my drift.

The funny things are that: Corgan is a bad, boring musician; his transparent performance of 'the reasonable man' in an interview with Alex Jones; his earlier protestations that he was to be the savior of professional wrestling who went to the barricades against the PC Police (perhaps those were not his words, precisely); that what might still be considered the 2nd biggest wrestling promotion in the USA, one that tried to recapitulate the Monday Night Wars by going head-to-head against Monday Night Raw at one time, is in danger of being taken over due to late payments to a production company; that professional wrestlers perform as independent contractors no matter who they do business with despite absurd amounts of control over their place, style, and amount of work by single individuals/corporate groups; &c.

What's really funny, of course, is that once every three years someone writes an op ed about how WWE hasn't had a black champion (except The Rock, who is Black and Samoan and (is) mainly identifie(s/d) with the Samoan heritage) and the wrestling media pats itself on the back as the message boards throw little shit fits that quickly die down. The back patting is of the "we have started a conversation" variety, of course, and thus it ends. Maybe someone notes that Class of 2016 WWE Hall of Famer and WWE employee -- which is to say, not wrestler -- used the N-word in reference to a current WWE contractor only a few years ago. Maybe they note that he made the Paula Deen defence, except that it somehow worked. Probably they don't tie it to the firing of Alberto Del Rio (contractor) for slapping some stooge (employee) over racist remarks, because Del Rio is now back with the company. Maybe Triple H vs. Booker T gets brought up, or Vince McMahon using the N-word during a pay-per-view in Two Thousand and Fucking Five. If David Shoemaker's around, maybe Sputnik Monroe's name will even come up.

What the headlines reinforce is that the quicksand in which these discussions always get caught -- the culture of an institution, the history of a genre, the particular merits of any individual counterargument -- all die on the vine, because they sprout from no place of truth or even inquiry. The only desire is that the arguments find themselves a centrifugal force, to be spun around until they cease to amuse. It's why even those who oppose the Defenders of the WWE will not levy their own case against them; from the newest-minted smark to the oldest, most grizzled veteran in shoot interviews or in shiny WWE-produced documentaries, everyone argues that the defining factor of WWE is that the buck stops with Vince MacMahon. He is responsible for all storylines, and for all decisions about contractors; except he has no responsibility for racial dynamics, which are much more amenable to historical analysis of drawing power and whatever else.

Which isn't even to say that the "MacMahon should take the blame for the lack of black champions, as he claims to do for everything" argument is even one I would necessarily stump for; only that these intracultural wars are such pageants that even that mild an offense is clearly off limits. Your arguments that center history and culture are important in their ability to illuminate, not as some structural, teleological truth. The question of power as it operates and is assumed is central.

If you want to rely on the history of wrestling to explain why Hayes' racism is swept under the rug while he is celebrated, then it is only because the environment -- of wrestling co-existing with boxing in both adjudication and media for much of its early history, which allowed wrestling to be juxtaposed against boxing as the white sport; of a significant legacy of modern wrestling arising from the Jim Crow South; of the particular figures that have since become metonyms for the periods, like Bill Watts and well, Hulk Hogan -- had material effects on the contemporary moment. That is, history isn't something to look at and throw up your hands, but to see how it is that only people who hold these views could have gained the experience necessary to be in these positions in the present. That's why two jobbers with lightning bolt SS tattoos on their biceps can be in a position to take over what you might still call a major promotion. All they had to do was be part of a production company, and because there are so few folks who have the applied knowledge to fund and run a professional wrestling show, they could slip in regardless of their political affiliations. Regardless because this is just about the only political affiliation you could have that is uncontroversially going to paint a company in a negative light. Unless you're Alex Jones, I suppose.

Which brings it back to Corgan, who self describes in some video as a muttered jumble that definitely includes the words "free market" "libertarian" "capitalist" and the phrase "the market will correct itself." His is the beautiful faith of the Liberal. In wrestling, he has found his church, where he can become the avatar of the most miserable business practices. Corgan is the holy voice of the 1099. Because this is where the culture argument does come into play; given enough cachet, and enough ideological correctness, even the rich and inexperienced can be folded into the faith.

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