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"'Cos Stone Cold said so"

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January 3, 2009 by Amanda Evans-Tuite

I have become addicted to the wrestling — what I mean is I am an official slave of Vince McMahon's rendering of 'Sports Entertainment'. I am entranced by The Undertakers pall-bearer, mesmerized by Rey Mysterio's 619 and to be honest, a little turned on by Goldberg's spear-tackles.

I seek no therapy for this condition, nor am I ashamed to admit that I have turned down Friday night drinks with the gals to stay in and be assaulted by John Cena's pathetic homeboy posturings. My friends are dismayed, my boyfriend unsurprisingly encouraging and my mother knowing — she believes the condition is genetic as my Nonno used to be a big fan of 'Killer Kowalski'.

The gladiatorial spectacle that ensues every week guarantees my constant attention. There is something for everyone — hard bodies in big boots (that's the men), retired step-aerobics instructors pulling hair for victory, love affairs and 'mate ships' that are tested each week. It is sad, convoluted and I love it!

And social commentary — you betcha. Quite recently many of the stars of 'SmackDown' visited their boys in Iraq. Upon returning Kurt Angle, a one-time wrestling Olympic medalist, received a standing ovation for his patriotic rantings. He was idol, teacher and role model and then something interesting happened. The US public's interest in the 'War on Terror' began to wane and in tandem Kurt Angle became less Captain America and more Hitler Youth. His ravings became savage and his appearances were marked by scandal. Kurt Angle became the spokesperson for US imperialism and international thuggery. In contrast to this the 'lying, cheating and stealing' Eddie Guerruo developed into a folk hero. As the war in Iraq drags on US domestic concerns are played out weekly on 'SmackDown'. Mexican hero Eddie champions the causes of the downtrodden and represents all non-WASP people the world over. His 'Latino Heat' tag is a constant concern for the new SmackDown manager — Kurt Angle.

It may be said that this is all pretend and therefore of no consequence, but what about the fact that significant cultural shifts are often mirrored or re-presented in popular cultural sites? Here we have a country so divided on whether domestic or international issues should take precedence that we are actually witnessing the social fabric of the US fraying bi-weekly on Raw and SmackDown.

The political ramifications of this are clear — the best lessons learnt are those that we do not remember being taught. If an 'insignificant' cultural site such as the wrestling is educating a culturally dominating nation like the US, then cultural critics must sit up and take notice. Because if you really want to know what is happening in a country all you need to do is scratch the surface and look at the narratives that are being played out. Why? "Because that's the bottom line — 'cos Stone Cold said so".