#WWE
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132 pages
English

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Description

The millions of fans who watch World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) programs each year are well aware of their role in building the narrative of the sport. #WWE: Professional Wrestling in the Digital Age explores the intersections between media, technology, and fandom in WWE's contemporary programming and business practices. In the Reality Era of WWE (2011 to the present), wrestling narratives have increasingly drawn on real-life personalities and events that stretch beyond the story-world created and maintained by WWE. At the same time, the internet and fandom have a greater influence on the company than ever before. By examining various sites of struggle and negotiation between WWE executives and in-ring performers, between the product and its fans, and between the company and the rest of the wrestling industry, the contributors to this volume highlight the role of various media platforms in shaping and disseminating WWE narratives. Treating the company and its product not merely as sports entertainment, but also as a brand, an employer, a company, a content producer, and an object of fandom, #WWE conceptualizes the evolution of professional wrestling's most successful company in the digital era.


Introduction: Storyworld, Wrestling, Entertainment / Dru Jeffries


Part I: Corporate Kayfabe: WWE as Media Empire


1. World Building in the WWE Universe / Eero Laine


2. The Work of Wrestling: Struggles for Creative and Industrial Power in WWE Labor / Andrew Zolides


3. Mapping the WWE Universe: Territory, Media, Capitalism / Dru Jeffries and Andrew Kannegiesser


4. Narrative Smarts: Negotiations of Creative Authority in Wrestling's Reality Era / Christian Norman



Part II: Marks and Smarts: WWE's Unruly Fandoms


5. Sport vs. Spectacle: Fan Discontent and the Rise of Sports Entertainment / Shane Toepfer


6. The Marks Have Gone Off-Script: Rogue Actors in WWE's Stands / Sam Ford


7. Botchamania and the Acoustics of Professional Wrestling / Christian B. Long



Part III: Then, Now, Forever: Wresting with WWE's Past and Transmedia Future


8. "Tout It Out": WWE's Experimentation and Failure with Social TV / Cory Barker


9. "We're Not Just Cheerleaders": Reading the Postfeminist Polysemy of Total Divas / Anna F. Peppard


10. Daniel's Specter: Daniel Bryan, Chris Benoit, and the Work of Mourning / Sean Desilets


Index

Sujets

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 01 décembre 2019
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9780253044938
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0750€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

THE YEAR S WORK: STUDIES IN FAN CULTURE AND CULTURAL THEORY
Edward P. Comentale and Aaron Jaffe, editors

This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
iupress.indiana.edu
2019 by Indiana University Press
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN 978-0-253-04490-7 (hardback)
ISBN 978-0-253-04491-4 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-253-04494-5 (ebook)
1 2 3 4 5 24 23 22 21 20 19
This book is dedicated to Charlotte Kannegiesser,
the real highlight of the 2013 Elimination Chamber
pay-per-view. Stay baby, pony girl.
CONTENTS
Introduction: Storyworld, Wrestling, Entertainment / Dru Jeffries
PART I: CORPORATE KAYFABE: WWE AS MEDIA EMPIRE
one World Building in the WWE Universe / Eero Laine
two The Work of Wrestling: Struggles for Creative and Industrial Power in WWE Labor / Andrew Zolides
three Mapping the WWE Universe: Territory, Media, Capitalism / Dru Jeffries and Andrew Kannegiesser
four Narrative Smarts: Negotiations of Creative Authority in Wrestling s Reality Era / Christian Norman
PART II: MARKS AND SMARTS: WWE S UNRULY FANDOMS
five Sport vs. Spectacle: Fan Discontent and the Rise of Sports Entertainment / Shane Toepfer
six The Marks Have Gone Off-Script: Rogue Actors in WWE s Stands / Sam Ford
seven Botchamania and the Acoustics of Professional Wrestling / Christian B. Long
PART III: THEN, NOW, FOREVER: WRESTLING WITH WWE S PAST AND TRANSMEDIA FUTURE
eight Tout It Out : WWE s Experimentation and Failure with Social TV / Cory Barker
nine We re Not Just Cheerleaders : Reading the Postfeminist Polysemy of Total Divas / Anna F. Peppard
ten Daniel s Specter: Daniel Bryan, Chris Benoit, and the Work of Mourning / Sean Desilets
Index

INTRODUCTION
Storyworld, Wrestling, Entertainment
Dru Jeffries
Professional wrestling has long been defined by kayfabe , a concept that directly connects today s multimillion-dollar global industry with its humble roots in carnival tents and local gymnasiums. Kayfabe signifies the central premise underlying every professional wrestling performance: that the outsize and colorful characters, the spectacular athletic contests in which they compete, and the ongoing serialized narratives in which these physical conflicts appear are authentic, spontaneous, unscripted. 1 In the days of the traveling carnival, kayfabe represented the knowledge gap between the conman and his mark, and maintaining this gap was necessary to protect the business. 2 The term thus refers not just to the creation of a fictional storyworld but also to the power dynamic between creators and audiences that it engenders. As Eero Laine describes it, kayfabe is the truth those in power tell you. It is the storylines and corporate narrative presented to the public. It is also an acknowledgement that even as you try to break through the web of kayfabe, you are still probably being duped one way or another. 3 In the context of contemporary professional wrestling, however, the knowledge gap between creators and audiences has narrowed considerably. In a world where fans enjoy unprecedented access to backstage rumors and even the performers themselves via social media and other online platforms, the game has evolved from a con perpetrated upon an unwitting victim to a televised (or otherwise mediated) fiction that is both mutually agreed upon and collaboratively constituted. 4 To break kayfabe today is merely to acknowledge what every wrestling fan already knows: that professional wrestlers are theatrical performers rather than competitive athletes, that the outcomes of matches are predetermined to facilitate ongoing serialized narratives, and that a corporate enterprise like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is much more directly comparable to media industry giants like Disney and Netflix than to professional sporting leagues like the National Football League (NFL) or Major League Baseball (MLB).
#WWE: Professional Wrestling in the Digital Age is particularly interested in this last point of comparison. Under the corporate leadership of its founder, chair, and principal shareholder, Vince McMahon, and his immediate family-including wife Linda, daughter Stephanie, son Shane, and son-in-law Paul Triple H Levesque-WWE has developed, refined, and transformed the performance genre historically known as professional wrestling into the televisual (and increasingly transmedia) genre of sports entertainment. 5 Through its presence on broadcast television and live shows around the world, as well as its aggressive expansion into non-wrestling-related entertainment media, WWE has established itself as a dominant force not only in the professional wrestling industry but also in global popular culture more broadly. The ten chapters in this book view and analyze WWE through the lens of television and media studies, treating the company not strictly as a professional wrestling promotion or federation but rather as a brand, an employer, a publicly traded company, a content producer and distributor, a sprawling transmedia storyworld, and an object of fandom that contributes to the contemporary mediasphere in unique and instructive ways. Such an approach is also consistent with WWE s front-facing corporate identity: tellingly, the company no longer defines itself as a professional wrestling federation but rather as an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment devoted to creat[ing] and deliver[ing] original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. 6
To date, academic analyses of professional wrestling have largely focused on sociological/ethnographic studies of wrestling culture and content analyses of wrestling narratives, resulting in a discourse primarily interested in issues of representation, particularly with respect to race, gender, class, and nationalism. While such research is obviously valuable, the effects of mediation on the presentation and content of professional wrestling have been more or less neglected in the existing discourse. In a recent piece exploring the interdisciplinary possibilities of professional wrestling scholarship, Garrett L. Castleberry suggests that a method conjoining the disciplines of media studies, communication studies, and television studies would be particularly useful for understanding the narrative complexity, transmedia synergy, and modes of audience engagement that define the genre in the present day. 7 The essays in this volume answer Castleberry s call, drawing connections between WWE s business practices and the increasingly diversified media and narrative content they create and distribute.
Since becoming a publicly traded corporation in 1999, WWE has consistently increased its efforts toward developing ancillary products and business ventures, each seeking to broaden the appeal of their brand beyond the traditional confines of the professional wrestling genre. In so doing, they have also exploded the concept of kayfabe, creating multiple overlapping storyworlds, each of which bears its own unique relationship to the main storyworld (as constructed in WWE s weekly television shows and monthly pay-per-view supercard events). To date, these ancillary products have included reality television series (in both competition and Real Housewives -style catfights and confessionals modes), documentaries modeled after ESPN s 30 for 30 series, roundtable discussion shows, animated television series (for both children and adult audiences), prank and sketch comedy shows, and films (both theatrical and direct-to-video) featuring WWE performers in lead or supporting roles. Observing the contradictions that arise between these various access points to what has become known as the WWE Universe, Brian Jansen notes that the company s content diversification strategy might foreclose the possibility of total immersion in WWE s [main] on-screen product, but if it limits audience s suspension of disbelief, it opens, in its blurring of fact and fiction, new storytelling possibilities. 8 Far from causing audiences to lose interest, these authorized, controlled, and always-mediated peeks behind the proverbial curtain explicitly encourage fans to view the main product intertextually and to understand WWE s kayfabe storyworld as a narrative construct-to dig deeper rather than take the larger-than-life storytelling at face value. 9
Indeed, WWE s core product-serialized wrestling events, staged before live audiences in arenas around the world and broadcast either on traditional television networks or on the company s own subscription-based streaming service-holds strong despite (or perhaps because of) the loosening of kayfabe. Their weekly flagship television series, Monday Night Raw (1993-), holds the record as the longest-running weekly episodic American television program of all time, boasting more than 1,300 episodes to date; its sister show, SmackDown Live (1999-), surpassed the 1,000-episode milestone in October 2018. In May 2018, WWE signed lucrative deals to keep both shows on the air through 2024, with Raw remaining on the USA Network (for $265 million) while SmackDown

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