I love flawed heroes. I love opera, pantomime, wrestling and other such examples of flawed heroes. Flawed heroes are essentially big personalities, with dominant personality traits that are held so true to, that the character is unbalanced and hence is flawed. One of my favourite films is ‘The Return of Captain Invincible’, where the Captain is not quite invincible and has one terrible flaw, alcoholism.
Such characters occur in both ‘high culture’ of literature, theatre and opera. These characters also exist in ‘low’ culture, such as panto and wrestling. In my view, in both of these cultures these characters provide the same function, enabling the audience to identify with the personality traits and apply that view to the world. This requires a suspension of belief to view a different world, with different rules to reflect on our own existences and to better understand society as a whole.
These characters enable people to better understand society, how we are all different. As children we tend to start with low culture, whilst not being simpler, is is less related to a coherent possible world. It is more fun though and the visual spectacle keeps our attention. I was a child in the 1980s Britain. I grew up with Saturday afternoon wrestling on the telly, always a battle between the ‘goodies’ such as ‘Big Daddy’ and the ‘baddies’ such as ‘Giant Haystacks’. The thing is is that the baddies are always much more interesting, whilst I kind of wanted the goodies to triumph, my heart also went out to the baddies.
As I’ve got older, wrestling disappeared from terrestrial telly, with the exception of ‘Reslo‘, a Welsh language amateur wrestling show’ on S4C, which was awesome. Over the years i have occasionally got into the American WWF/WWE shows. These shows were bigger, brighter, more American than traditional British wrestling. WWE is so developed that the ludicrous plot feuds between the wrestlers have become almost as important as the wrestling itself. These simple plotlines, nonetheless pack a punch when you allow your mind to accept the fantastical wrestling universe. What is interesting about WWE is the interaction with fans, especially on the internet. This enables the producers of the shows to know which wrestlers have captured the popular imagination, so it becomes a popularity contest, with the most popular wrestlers picking up the silverware/ glory.
The place of women in wrestling is interesting. Dramatically womens wrestling shoudl be as engaging as mens wrestling. As a child I remember that womens wrestling seemed less about the battle between heroes and rather ‘unladylike’ women being catty to each other. As such it was less appealing, the female wrestlers seemed to be less about fighting for their personality, but instead a simple oneupwomanship., as such less appealing. Perhaps it was simply that less time was devoted to women’s wrestling, so the characters were less developed. On a recent foray into WWE i discovered the wrestler AJ Lee. AJ was interesting because, well firstly she is a stunningly beautiful woman, but also that her wrestling character was clearly exposed. AJ seemed not to be simply trying to be the best woman, to achieve the adoration of male fans in a rather sexist manner to be the sexiest, to be a simple goodie or baddie, but a true flawed hero. At last wrestling has evolved to a point where women’s and men’s are providing the same service.
The world of professional wrestling is a fantastical spectacle, o is the world of party politics. In the UK we are amidst a general election campaign. The public bickering between the politicians has so many parallels to wrestling and pantomime villains. The political parties and there leading figures, seem to be viewing to portray themselves a s’heroes’ and we h as electors, have to decide who are the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, and who to support. The very same repeated catchphrases, the distortion of reality to berate opponents, is so less entertaining than wrestling. I’ve said it before but popular elections seem to have lost the importance of ideological discussion, of how governments should manage the world until utopia can be achieved. As in WWE, the continued bickering and feuding between characters has developed beyond the traditional goody/baddy narrative, where all characters have both good and bad elements. So too with politicians, we seem to have got to the point where we accept the flaws, the mistakes of those we support, because they are at least perceived to be batter than the other guy.