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Professional WrestlingSport and Spectacle, Second Edition$
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Sharon Mazer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496826862

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496826862.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 17 June 2021

What the World Is Watching

What the World Is Watching

(p.15) 2 What the World Is Watching
Professional Wrestling

Sharon Mazer

University Press of Mississippi

More than a vulgar parody of “real” sport, professional wrestling is a sophisticated theatricalized representation of the transgressive, violent urges generally repressed in everyday life. More than a staged fight between representatives of good and evil, at its heart is a Rabelaisian carnival, an invitation to every participant to share in expressions of excess and to celebrate the desire for, if not the acting upon, transgression against whatever cultural values are perceived as dominant and/or oppressive in everyday life. More than an elaborate con game in which spectators are seduced into accepting the illusion of “real” violence, wrestling activates and authorizes its audiences, makes them complicit in the performance. Matches can be described in conventional dramatic terms that remain consistent whether in Madison Square Garden or Gleason’s Arena. Because the fight is fixed, the contest is for heat—for the fans’ attention—rather than for victory per se.

Keywords:   Kayfabe, World Wrestling Federation, Gleason’s Arena, Dramaturgical structure, Carnivalesque

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