Thursday, August 11, 2016

'Review America' a limited podcast series on American Politics through the prism of Wrestling

Wrestling fans have a unique way of viewing the world. A perspective with elements from media studies or observational comedy, they see the superficial presentation whilst taking into account the layers of meta-reference and insider jargon. The culture has moved towards a better understanding of this through the popularity of 'The Daily Show' and the rise of independent media challenging and unpacking mainstream news.

Review America  – Episode 1: The RNC
Which brings us to today, where we can have an audience receptive to a show discussing American politics through the prism of wrestling. 'Review America: Wrestling with democracy' is a limited series podcast hosted on the 'Fight Network', a Canadian media station dedicated to combat sports. Hosted by Americans Brian Mann and Nate Milton, its a spin-off from a 2012 episode where Canadians John Pollock and Wai Ting departed from their regular format of reviewing Wrestling PPVs to investigating the compelling presidential showdown between nominees Governor Romney (r) and Senator Obama (d). Not unlike my own fascination with America's brand of politics as an outsider all those years ago. Host Brian describes the zeitgeist which birthed the show in the show's opening address:
Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton – Episode 1: The RNC
BRIAN MANN: (2m 37s) This really does feel like a convergence this year where a lot of the world is kinda becoming hip to the Pro-Wrestling way of doing things unfortunately. You and I, we obviously have no shame when it comes to liking pro-wrestling but its interesting how our entire society has kind of unknowingly adapted to the same framework of thinking. A couple of months ago the New York Times wrote a really great article... and I just want to share a quote from it...
'Is Everything Wrestling' by Jeremy Gordon
If a story is told well, if its history seems consistent, then the machinations putting it into place can be temporarily overlooked or turned into a fun story of their own. And why not? In the end, we're all marks for a world we want to believe in.
And I think that really puts this election into focus, the reason Nate and I are going to spend a couple of weeks and really months until this wraps up in November is because I think there is a uniquely pro-wrestling way of looking at this entire election. So this isn't going to strictly be a political show, we are going to be tying it into that. We will be viewing this through the framework of "Marks" and "Smarks" and "kayfabe"* and everything that I think our audience is conditioned to think and that's why we want to bring the show to you on this platform (The Fight Network) rather than putting it out through a different party. This is a show about Politics but for Wrestling fans even though we're not necessarily going to be making Ted DiBiase jokes every second.

*Glossary for wrestling jargon:
Mark - Fan who enjoys and consumes Wrestling at face value
Smark - Fan aware of Wrestling's artifice and appreciates its meta layers. Short for "Smart Mark".
Kayfabe - Preservation of the illusion that Wrestling is real
My blog's initial focus on the pundit class was because they were more compelling (read: entertaining) political personalities with arguably more influence on voters. They were unfettered as private citizens and not beholden to the usual journalistic constraints of objectivity and decorum. Pundits were establishing fiefdoms through their media empires, effectively fashioning their own voting blocs to leverage or rival the politicians.
This election, the rise of Donald Trump as the "rogue" nominee for the Republican party represents the convergence of wrestling, punditry andpolitics. With 10.8 million Twitter followers, coupled with his unrivaled ability to engulf "free media", Trump is a one-man noise machine.
Nate Milton expands:
Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton – Episode 1: The RNC
NATE MILTON: You talk about relating in the way you and I... look at pro-wrestling you can easily apply it to the world of politics and I think in this election in particular where you have two oversized characters. One in Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Donald Trump, the guy we're gonna be focusing on most this week on the Republican side. Someone who has dabbled in the world of pro-wrestling. He's a WWE Hall-of-Famer so he's no stranger to the world of "kayfabe" but I think its gonna be an interesting journey for us because as you've mentioned politics is something that we often talk about and to our credit its something we enjoy talking about and to the listeners' credit something that they didn't mind when we went down that road so I think we're gonna have a lot of fun and get to some insightful places... and I think the tagline "Wrestling with democracy" is very appropriate.
I founded this blog in 2007, at the close of George W Bush' presidency and gearing up to the 08' presidential race. The politics is wrestling meme had been forwarded in sprinkles but the "Pundit Fight" premise of the blog was only possible with the advent of Air America Radio. The Progressive radio network provided a stable of liberal talkers to counteract the "Right Wing Noise Machine". This allowed me to pit Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter against the likes of Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow, the incubation of the politicised media marketplace today.

Its a telling state of affairs that a presidential nominee has usurped all of the pundits combined, not only in bombast but his ability to manipulate the media and the masses. Its worth noting that 'Review America' never had to mention the pundit class in relating American politics to wrestling. Donald Trump has seemingly made PunditFight obsolete by becoming the living incarnation of it. Sad.

Pundits TRUMPED!
Links to the 3 'Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton' episode so far:
- Episode 1: The RNC
- Episode 2: The DNC
- Episode 3: Diagnosing Donald