Somewhere around 2002 to 2003 I stopped watching wrestling matches on TV. As a 3rd Generation fan of wrestling, I always knew it was fake, but it was entertaining in a mindless sort of way and like many people I needed entertaining.
I was introduced to the entertaining aspects of it at the knee of my paternal grandmother back in the days when the superstars were Gorgeous George, Verne Gagne and Mean George Steele. I mean really, what 6 year old isn't going to get a Saturday noon giggle over watching an overweight adult chewing up a leather turnbuckle?
Prior to cable TV, all you got to see of it in the comfort of our homes was those half hour telecasts of adults behaving badly in some high school gym somewhere in the Northeastern United States. Once cable happened, it opened up the genre to new and exciting programming. Provided one was allowed to stay up that late on Saturday night, that is. Saturday nights belonged to McMahon Sr and his WWF wrestling promotion. If we had cable, we could be exposed to the Southern promotions like the NWA and the WCW on Sunday afternoons. As more homes got cable, wrestling became a go to cheaply produced program like reality TV is today.
"Watcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you?" I don't know how anyone else handled that, I simply ignored it and settled in with Rowdy Roddy Piper and Macho Man. Then Vince Jr bought out Daddy McMahon and promptly changed the entire game. Kayfabe got broken when he admitted he presented "sports entertainment". We knew it was scripted, but it still was fun trying to figure out who was supposed to win. Besides, where else could you get to watch an angry employee dump a ton of concrete into the bosses $50,000 Corvette? I sit here laughing at the memory of that. Yes, it was kayfabe but probably one of the most satisfying "take this job and shove it" action that I ever saw in my life.
For those who don't know what kayfabe means, it's an old carny word that means to present a work of fiction as true or real. Vince McMahon Jr used to know exactly how to do that and make billions from it. At about the time I got disgusted with the direction of those works of fiction, Vince seems to have become more and more enamored of degrading and taking a direction that physically damaged his talent. It wasn't fun anymore and I walked away without ever looking back.
The younger members of my family still are avid fans and watch it regularly. They tell me what's going on and who the new superstars are and what they're all about. In Facebook I follow Mick Foley, Steve Austin and Chris Jericho so I am reminded of the fun it used to be via their posts. In the midst of this election cycle, one of them posted about Donald Trump's induction into the Wrestling Hall of Fame. He's a friend of Vince McMahon's. The light dawned.
I have spent years trying to figure out how our entire political system became so broken. It becomes a little clearer when you begin to compare society and the individual's understanding of political science to the sort of mindless entertainment we've been enjoying for decades. Too many of us stopped needing to find the truth, to believe in the real. Too many of us embraced kayfabe because it's easier to do so. After all, if we don't like the current story line, a click of our remote button or our mouse or a swipe on our smartphone screen and we can change the world as we know it.
"But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns. Don't bother they're here."
I will not vote in this Presidential election cycle. Too many clowns.