Sunday, July 15, 2007

Whadda you mean this violence is fake?

World Wrestling Entertainment is immensely popular, though if you ask anyone if he watches Smackdown, or whatever it's called these days, he'll probably scoff and say, "It's all fake!"

Of course it's not authentic wrestling and sure, the routines and outcomes are planned in advance. But fake?

No one discourages people from going to Harry Potter movies because they're fake. But they are. There is no Harry Potter, just fiction, an actor, and millions of dollars of special effects.

Likewise, those who go to a theater to see "Hamlet" are not confronted by sneers that "it's all fake." No, Hamlet does not see his father's ghost, he doesn't kill Polonius, Gertrude doesn't drink poison, and a dying Hamlet does not skewer Claudius.

Again, it's fiction. Just like the WWE, and Vince McMahon's exploding limo. The fact is, the WWE has more real violence than anything you're likely to see on the stage or screen.

Necks break, wrestlers fall to their deaths, and widely practiced misuse of anabolic steroids has caused numerous premature deaths. Most recently, steroids may have contribited to Chris Benoit's strangling of his wife and son and subsequent suicide by hanging.

The question is, why do we find violence entertaining? Crowds at the Coliseum cheered bloody death, folks flocked to public hangings, fans pay to see men hit each other in the head as hard as they can, and now teenagers play games that realistically simulate killing.

Sony expects parents to shell out $600 for a PlayStation 3 so that junior can play Metal Gear Solid 4 (or 5?) and the latest update of Grand Theft Auto.

Is this just a way to blow off steam? Cope with stress? Channel violent impulses into something harmless? Maybe all three.

The people who complain about wrestling being fake -- they're really disappointed, not disapproving -- aren't they?

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