What does the immense popularity of professional wrestling say about the way we market masculinity?
In this compelling video, Sut Jhally, Professor of Communication, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Jackson Katz, Co-Founder, Mentors in Violence Prevention, take down professional wrestling and expose its disturbing underlying message. Katz comments:
You can be sure that within 60 seconds, the victims of the most brutal violence imaginable, will be up on their feet without a mark on their bodies. This kind of cartoon-like violence is what media scholar George Gerbner has called “happy violence,” a brutal but ultimately cleaned up world in which the real life consequences of violence are pushed out of view.
Professor Jhally adds:
Perhaps the most important story that professional wrestling spins for its audience is that all the violence and confrontation that we see is connected to men …. Anything this popular reveals something larger about our society, about its deep-seated values.
As for the idea that professional wrestling is just entertainment, Katz pins that to the mat.
Let’s grant this is just entertainment … What does it mean, then, that we’re entertained by men beating up women? By scenes showing men being bullied and humiliated? By stereotypical depictions of gays? What does it mean when we find that funny? Well, one effect may be that when we come across those things in the real world, we don’t take them seriously. We don’t see the tragedy involved. The pain and suffering that real human beings are facing.