Eminence Front

Professional wrestling is fake.

The blood is fake, the lack of physics is fake, the arguing with the ref is fake, the rivalries are fake… it might be professional, but it’s not real.

This willful disregard for reality is at the heart of pro wrestling. It’s a juvenile fantasy, come to life. An opportunity to make up the rules, ignore authority, and exert bullying force on others, merely because you can.

So why is Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins) one of the most successful musicians of our generation, running a pro wrestling organization?

He says it’s because it’s one of the last transgressive arenas left. That it’s a morality play, a microcosm of the human condition, a chance to put on a show that highlights our fears and our avarice. He knows that it’s fake, authenticity is a foreign concept in this world.

And what lesson can we learn from politics importing pro wrestling’s mindset? Once you see it, you can’t unsee the connection. Worth noting that one of the key narratives of pro wrestling is the fake within the fake–someone is always claiming that the outcome is rigged. (In wrestling, of course, it is rigged. And so is the complaining.)

Pro wrestling works as a play and a medium because the people who are part of it realize that it’s fake.

It turns out that modern media is a perfect match for the pro-wrestling approach. You can put on a show, with your own media, as often as you like. And that show is, to many, remarkable, and so it spreads.

And there lies the danger, the opportunity for pro-wrestling thinking to corrupt our society: When the fans, or worse, the participants, don’t realize that it’s fake.

In real life, the laws of physics actually work. In real life, blood feuds rarely end well. In real life, accepting the ref’s decisions is the only way to have civilization…

The filter bubble creates an echo chamber, and reality stars are pushed to be more like cartoonish pro wrestlers and less like responsible human beings. If it bleeds, it leads.

You probably work with people who are living in their own pro wrestling universe. These are people who are so in love with their version of reality and their goals that they view the real world as an affront, an intrusion on the way they insist things turn out.

Reality remains our common ground, the best one we have to work with.

~ Seth Godin

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