Keeping the Fans Happy

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Hackett 1 Alex Hackett W131 K Alford Essay 2 11 11 13 Keeping the Fans Happy Fans attend sporting events to see the back and forth action that takes place throughout the game From the clutch performance by a star athlete to the miraculous pursuit for victory from the underdog sporting events have captivated fans interest since the conception of sports entertainment that make the fan love sports This thrill of the sport is not only existent for the fans On the other hand the athlete and the team also get the same exhilaration out of winning a game that the fans enjoy Players put it all on the line not knowing whether their efforts will lead to victory This uncertainty of the end result leads to the player feeling a great amount of pride in his or her accomplishments Wrestling on the other hand is a predetermined form of entertainment Since each matches outcome is known by the wrestlers and the WWE but kept secret from the audience it is more important to focus on the planning and rehearsing of matches rather than athletic skill Wrestlers embody a quality that subjects in a Panopticon would possess the self policing of oneself Through the principles of Panopticism the WWE is more interested with keeping the fans thoroughly entertained than promoting their superstars personal achievement Michel Foucault writes Panopticism in an effort to express to the audience how to create power through surveillance and discipline Through power one can Hackett 2 make an audience feel and act a certain way even to the point of losing individualism Panopticism is the idea that one is always being watched even if he is not through the method involving an architectural pillar Prisoners are put in cells in which they can see the tower causing them to always think that somebody is watching them even if nobody is in the building According to Foucault he who is subject to a field of visibility and who knows it assumes responsibility for the constraints of power he becomes the principle of his own subjection 157 The subject of this Panopticon always is responsible for their actions because if they do something wrong the subject can be punished Thus this prisoner in a way is always on their best behavior in order to protect themselves Through this self policing the subject maintains discipline for himself and security from the higher power In The Wrestler Randy and the other wrestlers take on the role of the subject in the Panopticism theory while the WWE acts as the higher power for the ultimate goal of entertaining the fans Director Darren Aronofsky effectively uses visual elements especially in the scene where Randy is fighting Tommy the guy with mohawk to show how the wrestlers perform as subjects to please the crowd In the preparation for all of the matches Aronofsky uses dialogue to show the viewers that there truly is a higher power running WWE This power is clearly indicated when Randy tells his opponent Tommy people who drive the Cadillac s the one s with the politics they run the show It s not about abilities The film is precisely telling the audience who is in charge of the wrestlers and that they are not wrestling for just themselves During the fight characterization is used to separate the two wrestlers into the bad guy versus the good guy Tommy appears as a crazy man with an Hackett 3 abnormal mohawk and an Anarchism tattoo on his back who continually takes cheap shots on Randy Randy portrayed as the wrestler who fans can relate with is a hard working American who receives the raw end of the deal sometimes from both his boss and rival This difference in characterization helps the fans choose who they want to be victorious Aronofsky then uses social distance to illustrate how the fans encourage Randy on to victory When Randy is standing on the ropes the camera shows the crowd cheering and jumping with excitement as Randy beckons the crowd to chant louder Randy and Tommy apply Panopticism s theory of self policing oneself by doing everything for the fans and performing their rehearsed roles to the best of their ability Understanding that the fans are the reason for the match in the first place the WWE takes steps to insure that every fan leaves the arena thoroughly entertained The wrestlers are actors rather than athletes for the greater good of a profession Since the greater good of the WWE is all about the fans the sport takes on the Panopticism approach and demands all of their wrestlers to be disciplined as entertainers rather than athletes Henry Jenkins enhances this method when he writes in Never Trust a Snake WWF Wrestling as Masculine Melodrama Wrestlers perform less with their eyes and hands than with their arms and legs and with their deep resounding voices 305 This suggests that wrestlers use words and unorthodox tactics to win the match Jenkins quote supports the idea in Panopticism that subjects are regulating their actions for somebody else s approval Unlike most sports athletes the wrestlers are not using their physical attributes to win a competition Rather wrestlers are performers with the objective Hackett 4 to increase the fan s involvement and give the audience what they want The Wrestler successfully demonstrates Jenkins idea in the final fight scene between Randy and The Ayatollah The scene opens with Randy giving an emotional speech where he chokes up and gives credit to all of his supporters for his success over the years Randy pleases the crowd with his speech thus successfully getting the audience more involved Then during the fight instead of hand to hand combat the two wrestlers use props such as flags and the ropes to increase the nature of the fight The Ayatollah also raises the crowd s involvement when he goes into the stands and is threatening members of the audience Instead of in typical sports where the athletes use their skills to enhance the fan s entertainment Randy and The Ayotalloah are using words and emotions to obtain this The Panopticism in WWE makes wrestlers use less of their athletic abilities and more of their acting talents in order to draw large audiences Supporters and followers of WWE will always be around because of the way that the sport operates The whole Panopticism aspect of WWE is geared to accommodate the fans trying to make them love the event as much as possible The fans get involved in the match nearly as much as the wrestlers do because of the way WWE operates This idea suggests that the fans are also being controlled by Panopticism Like a rat in a maze the fans are being lead to behave in a way that the WWE wants them to behave The way the WWE portrays its wrestler forces the audience to choose a side not based off of who they want to win but who the WWE deems a good guy If the WWE no longer wanted Randy to win they would modify him to portray a villain and the fans would no longer support him The WWE and the Hackett 5 higher powers control everything about the profession and hold all of the power but they use this power to appease the fans Whatever the WWE thinks the fan would want they will make happen through portrayal and description Although the WWE is the Panopticon controlling all of its subordinates it does this in an effort to better serve the fans Hackett 6 Works Cited Foucault Michel Panopticism Readings for Analytical Writing 3rd ed Boston MA Bedford St Martin s 2006 150 178 Jenkins Henry Never Trust a Snake WWF Wrestling as Masculine Melodrama Readings for Analytical Writing 3rd ed Boston MA Bedford St Martin s 2006 293 307 The Wrestler Dir Darren Aronofsky Perf Mickey Rourke Marisa Tomei Evan Rachel Wood Fox Searchlight Pictures 2008 Film


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