Friday, August 17, 2007

William 'Bill' Kristol - Top wrestling heel (villain)

An important archetype in wrestling is the 'heel'. They are the villains who relish being despised and take great pleasure in aggravating their detractors. When I last spoke about Heels, I cited Ann Coulter as the top Heel in the Pundit business. Whilst Ann is an obvious choice for this title because of her bombast, there is one villain who is slowly garnering the reputation of 'pundit you love to hate'. He is Bill Kristol.

William Kristol is the editor-in-chief of the Weekly Standard, contributor to Fox News and Time magazine. What makes Bill an effective Heel is his reputation and influence. Unlike Ann Coulter who is notable for her purposely outrageous statements as an author and TV commentator, she does not command attention from those in power. She has been known to introduce politicians at fundraisers and her regular appearances on elite media could be viewed as tacit acceptance of her views. Ultimately however she does not influence public policy and her reputation makes her easily marginalized.

Bill Kristol is another animal all together. His influence is felt in the corridors of the White House as well as on our media landscape. Bill is a frequent contributor on Fox News panels, a regular columnist on Time Magazine and even a welcome sparring partner for (APF pundit) Jon Stewart of 'The Daily Show'.

Kristol was recently on the Hugh Hewitt show where he is a regular guest. Dean Barnett, filling in for Hugh played up Bill's reputation as heel very efficiently. Here is a partial transcript:
Dean: ...the left wing has coined you 'America's most dangerous columnist'. Are you honored by that title?
Bill: Well its an honor, but columnists aren't very dangerous... its almost like being called the most ferocious red robin in the forest or something
Dean: (laughs)
Dean: The most lethal guppy in the pond
Bill: I am a little insulted by that I guess, but look I'll take whatever I can get. Anything I do that makes left-wingers sleep worse at night makes me happy basically
It continues with Bill using a classic Heel tactic of playing up a stereotype. Just like a heel foreign wrestler infuriating the native crowd by calling them fat and lazy. Bill taunts his liberal detractors in saying
I like the thought of all these big shot liberals in Georgetown reading their Washington Post over coffee and their croissant at 9 o'clock Sunday morning and spitting up their coffee... at the headline "Bush will leave office as a winner"
Though that quote was actually a recounting of an email sent by a friend (funnily enough, Dean Barnett), its straight from the Heel playbook. Unapologetically embracing disdain which in turn encourages more antipathy for the heel to feed off.

Kristol can't take all the credit for his performance as a heel in this interview as Dean Barnett did most of the setting up in putting Kristol over as a villain. Make sure you pay attention to their exchange after the first ad break as Dean jokes with Kristol on having a musical theme to announce his entrances "just like some wrestlers..."
Listen to Dean Barnet's chat with Bill Kristol here.

The main reason that Kristol makes for a good heel is his acceptance on credible institutions like Time Magazine. But most telling is how welcomed he is on arguably the most popular political program, The Daily Show. Kristol is a favorite guest (read: Target) of Jon Stewart partly because Jon relishes in eviscerating the prominent Neo-conservative.

Although Dean Barnett as a likeminded supporter was effective in inflating Kristol's villain status. The quickest way for a Heel to raise their stature is through dueling with a hero, known a as a 'Face'. Nothing cements the reputations of heroes and villains better than a heavyweight matchup. In fact it says a lot about Kristol's character that he would appear on a show to effectively get ridiculed and criticized by the host. He most likely didn't have many friends in the audience either. To his credit, Bill always manages to get out his talking points and is often disarming in how he handles Jon with humor and self deprecating wit.

- Watch and Download Jon using Bill as a punching bag.
- Read what conservatives thought about the exchange.
- Watch and Download Bill Kristol being a bit more apprehensive than usual. Note Jon Stewart's wrestling reference midway through the interview.
Jon Stewart interviewing Bill Kristol
--crowd laughing at a preposterous Kristol statement--
BILL KRISTOL: It's nice to see all you Bush supporters here really
--crowd animated--
JON STEWART:... Boy the audience, I don't know when they started thinking this was pro-wrestling. It's the strangest thing -- they literally boo and hiss and cheer like you're the Rock and I'm - you know - The Undertaker.
Watch Heavyweight duel Number 3: "Two Jews Disagreeing". Download it here.

VIDEO: Bill Kristol on 'The Daily Show'
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c

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Listen and Download Dean Barnett's chat with Bill Kristol here.


MikeLM said...

One of the funniest exchanges I've seen. We need more of this sort of barbed, but good-humored debate.
I might even watch some stuff on the Comedy Channel, which I haven't done before.

punditfight said...

Barbed but good humored... in that case i would recommend to you: Any Bill Maher appearance where he is a guest of someone to the right of him. Think Bill O'Reiily and Tucker.
And also take a look at Stephen Colbert, though his shtick tends to dominate. Still funny yet barbed.
I may put a post up on this actually.