Thursday, January 10, 2013

Politics as Professional Wrestling: Alex Jones Goes "Dr. Death" and Cuts a Worked Shoot Promo on Piers Morgan

In a democracy, The Fourth Estate is supposed to perform a watchdog function where it educates citizens, helps to shape the public mood, sets the agenda for public debate, and most importantly, gives citizens the information necessary to hold their elected officials and government accountable.

With the rise of corporate media, the news establishment has become more of an organ of state power and elite interests than a force for the Common Good and a radically democratic political culture.

As an example of what passes for public discourse in a 24/7 news environment that is driven by ratings, where the public's attention is compressed into small segments, and complex information is processed into soundbites, Alex Jones and Piers Morgan engaged in an "conversation/interview" that was a spectacle.

The Left and other reasonable folks who care deeply about correcting America's sick relationship with guns can mock and laugh at the lunacy of Alex Jones and his Gun Right black helicopter New World order conspiranoid fantasies. The Right and those others who support Alex Jones position on gun ownership as the preeminent "right" of Americans under the Constitution, and that fantasize about a second American Civil War fought against a "tyrannical" government can crow that their champion went on national television and waved his/their flag high.

Both sides can feel satisfied. However, the American people and the Common Good are losers in this game. While we should be having a serious conversation about how gun violence is a public health crisis, serious matters are reduced to a carnival.

As I discussed a few months ago, my claim that politics shares much with professional wrestling explains a great deal about the Jones-Morgan debate, and how it has captured the attention of the public.

Both CNN and Jones' camp knew what would occur during the interview. Piers Morgan is a TV character, the Brit who fancies himself America's guardian truth-teller. Alex Jones, is a TV character too, he fashions himself as a patriot and modern Paul Revere who is telling the people the "truth," even if he has to pretend to be a martyr figure and victim in order to get the job done.

Both are perfect professional wrestling characters. Alex Jones did a "worked shoot" promo on Morgan's TV show. What was supposed to be spontaneous and unscripted was anything but. In the language of professional wrestling, Jones and Anthony have built up the tension so that they can have a good run. The audience is excited by the contest. Both of them will have a few more bouts before a final match and blow-off, and what will result in a big payday.

I do wonder if the general public understands how the TV news media is a relatively closed world driven by ratings, where truth is secondary, and like any other elite network, that there are a small number of recurring roles to be filled (which is why you see the same folks on all the major stations feigning expertise on matters which they know little about).

After the cameras turned off, Piers Morgan and Alex Jones embraced each other. They smiled and shook hands. Piers complemented Alex on how the latter really brought the "cheap heat" in the match. Both likely went out to get a beer (or three) after the show and to talk about the next steps in their angle. President Obama, as one of the head bookers, likely smiled at how Alex Jones played up the paranoid style in an epic heel performance in which he became the public face of the deranged Gun Right.

Ultimately, Piers Morgan was John Stossel getting slapped by "Dr. Death" David Schultz on ABC when he asked, "is professional wrestling is fake?" Alex Jones is Dr. Death, putting on such a show that even if people forget his name, they will be talking about what he did to Stossel decades later.

Never forget that "red turns to green":

Professional wrestling and the news media are all about "getting over." Morgan and Jones accomplished that (again) in their worked shoot. It is only the marks in the audience who do not realize that all parties are working them to a preordained finish. They smile, cheer, and boo. But once more, nothing of substance will get done about basic matters of public safety, common sense, and gun control because the public is too gullible.

Why? Because they are easily distracted by the next manufactured crisis and those metaphorical sweaty, oiled up men in tights, who beat the hell out of each other in a fake/real sport that we call politics.


Lyndon El said...

Alex Jones is arguably the most prominent LaRouchian mouthpiece active today. It's surprising the extent to which the LaRouchian ouevre resounds throughout the nooks and crannies of the past 20 years of radically autonomous black political thought and activism from Farrakhan to the rapper and fiddy page bookman street preoccupation with Illuminati and one world government.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Roland Barthes' essay "The World of Wrestling" where he writes, "Wrestling is not a sport, it is a spectacle, and it is no more ignoble to attend a wrestled performance of Suffering than a performance of the sorrows of Arnolphe or Andromaque."

The "gun debate" is not really a debate. It is pure spectacle and why there is little chance of changing our obsession with guns in this country. We are going through the motions and playing to the lowest common denominator for the sake of ratings and money.

It's the American way.

chaunceydevega said...

@lydon. I learned something today. I didn't know about that connection. Please share more details.

@anon. Barthes book is such a treasure. I remember coming upon that quote/chapter a few years ago. It validated my interesting in pro wrestling quite nicely.

Kyle said...

Without a doubt, Barthes book is a treasure...whenever I'm in Greenwich Village and see that drawing of Albert Einstein, I think of the essay on Einstein's Brain...But the wrestling chapter is EXCELLENT. It should be required reading for viewers of Fox, CNN and MSNBC. (Aka @anon)