HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

 

Belief is truth

by Tom Sullivan


Photo by Christopher Daniels via Creative Commons.

Sociologist Nick Rogers just introduced me (via the New York Times) to a term I'd never heard. I'd never heard it because it is slang used by professional wrestlers. He uses it to explain why listeners eat it up when Alex Jones rants that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged by the government or that Hillary Clinton runs a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor. It explains why no amount of fact-checking or voter education will correct their misapprehension.

The word is “kayfabe.” Oxford added it to the dictionary in 2015:

kayfabe
Syllabification: kay·fabe
Pronunciation: /’ka?fab/

noun

1. (In professional wrestling) the fact or convention of presenting staged performances as genuine or authentic:
“a masterful job of blending kayfabe and reality”
“he’s not someone who can break kayfabe and talk about the business”
Oxford believes the term originated in American traveling carnivals. (You see where this is going, right?)

Rogers writes:
Although the etymology of the word is a matter of debate, for at least 50 years “kayfabe” has referred to the unspoken contract between wrestlers and spectators: We’ll present you something clearly fake under the insistence that it’s real, and you will experience genuine emotion. Neither party acknowledges the bargain, or else the magic is ruined.

To a wrestling audience, the fake and the real coexist peacefully. If you ask a fan whether a match or backstage brawl was scripted, the question will seem irrelevant. You may as well ask a roller-coaster enthusiast whether he knows he’s not really on a runaway mine car. The artifice is not only understood but appreciated: The performer cares enough about the viewer’s emotions to want to influence them. Kayfabe isn’t about factual verifiability; it’s about emotional fidelity.
Alex Jones gets that. Ann Coulter gets that. Donald “truthful hyperbole” Trump gets that. Hollywood gets that every time it presents a multi-million dollar kayfabe that allows paying customers for two hours to immerse themselves in an alternate reality in which good triumphs, hope returns, the music swells, and you walk out of darkness back into the light. Horror fans pay good money for a good, safe scare. Trump rallies are free.

Hence, Rogers writes:
Ask an average Trump supporter whether he or she thinks the president actually plans to build a giant wall and have Mexico pay for it, and you might get an answer that boils down to, “I don’t think so, but I believe so.” That’s kayfabe. Chants of “Build the Wall” aren’t about erecting a structure; they’re about how cathartic it feels, in the moment, to yell with venom against a common enemy.
Push audiences only so far and it's entertainment, spectacle. Push them too far and you have a violent mob. In wrestling, the American hero taking on the "foreign menace" is a staple; the Iron Sheik or Ivan ‘The Russian Bear’ Koloff, for example. At Trump rallies, the "foreign" menace is Hillary Clinton. ("Lock her up!") Barack Hussein Obama is still the foreign menace.

In certain Christian circles, it's just not church without a preacher who can whip up a congregation until they feel the holy spirit and a cathartic release. Today's radio carnies have harnessed daily spectacles in the tradition of the evangelical altar call. Ostensibly to spread the conservative gospel, they provide fans with their daily fixes, a kind of "two minutes hate" that lasts three hours at a stretch. Good for your daily vent at the Other and good for selling penis pills and incontinence treatments. The rules of kayfabe are that no one acknowledges the line between sincerity and salesmanship.

Kayfabe, Rogers insists, is not satire. Satire involves a nod and a wink that the audience is in on the joke. Kayfabe is just the opposite:
Kayfabe isn’t merely a suspension of disbelief, it is philosophy about truth itself. It rests on the assumption that feelings are inherently more trustworthy than facts.
That feels about right. Of course, it does. Truthiness satirizes kayfabe. But kayfabe packs more emotional punch. And that's what fans return for each week.

Back when professional wrestling was more of a local auditorium and high school gymnasium event, I went once for the hell of it. But what I recall more from the days of "Nature Boy" Rick Flair is from a coffee table book of black and white photos of Greenville, SC from the 1970s when this happened. The image burned into my brain is of an older woman at Monday Night Wrestling, standing at ringside screaming and shaking her fist, the gold cross on her chest blazing as the flash caught her. They pay money for that experience. They know it's fake and they don't care. And they'll vote for it. Donald Trump knows. He used to own a piece of WWE.

"Don't make them feel dumb for spending their money to see you." Al Snow Explains "Kayfabe" to trainees.