Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Glenn Beck fans are just like Wrestling fans" - Glenn Beck is an actor.

Glenn Beck's Cover story for Time Magazine was a topic of much debate from many on the left and right. Some argued that it was a puff piece "enabling Glenn Beck's lies". Whilst others conceded the piece was "remarkably balanced... that even Glenn's followers might find surprisingly informative".

Joel Achenbach on his blog for the Washington Post offers his take on the article and Glenn Beck using a frame I often use for this blog.
Glenn Beck, Time and Media Matters
Here's what I came away with: Glenn Beck is a demagogue. He's also something of an actor. Some would choose the more pointed word of "fraud." He's a Top-40 radio DJ who saw an opportunity for reinvention. Had there been more money in being a Left-wing shouter, he'd have become that person instead.

Another word for Beck that comes to mind is "charlatan."

That's how I read this piece. I don't know Beck, of course. But the article suggests that Beck isn't quite the crackpot, paranoid person he pretends to be, but, sensing the riches that can come from ranting, is brilliantly playing a role.
glenn beck, doink, stone cold, edge, wwe
Wrestlers: 'Doink' the Clown, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Edge
Rather than likening Beck to an actor, I obviously would use wrestler. The 'gimmick' or 'persona' is one of the most important components in getting a wrestler "over" with the fans. It is the constructed identity that people connect with whether it be the blue-collar everyman, a deranged psychopath or something as cartoony as a 'Rodeo Clown'. Wrestlers craft personalities that they hope will captivate audiences into loving or hating them. Constantly tweaking them for maximum effect or replacing them wholesale when they don't work. Often it is a construct of their authentic personality and life history which makes it an easier sell, not only to the audience but also the wrestler who must embody it. I spoke of this extensively in my post on the remaking of Mike Huckabee - The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee (part 3 of 3)

To prove that the wrestling analogy is definitely floating in the ether, some commenters likened Glenn Beck fans to Wrestling fans.
Glenn Beck, Time and Media Matters (comments)
... Whether people "believe" Beck is just as irrelevant as whether people "believe" WWF wrestling is "real." "Truth" has nothing to do with it, and both Beck and WWF make millions of dollars in a way I would regard as basically false. WWF probably does no great harm to the culture, but Beck *does* do it harm.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 12:54 PM

The pro-wrestling metaphor is particularly apt. The true-believers are unbendable. No amount of scoffing over the conveniently clueless referees or the pre-staged props is going to convince a genuine fan that it's all staged. You have to go after the broad middle that can be still swayed by gentle ridicule and/or dispassionate analysis...
Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 1:14 PM

I know, yello. But here's the thing: deluded pro wrestling fans do no harm. They wander around and love their heroes and hate their villains and go home a drink a beer, and all's right with the world. Deluded Glenn Beck fans, and all their ilk, are *not* harmless: they vote, they hold marches...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 1:26 PM

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