The Convergent Nature of Professional Wrestling (CFP)

UPDATED: Submissions Due Wednesday, September 24th

Earlier this year, I wrote about my experience meeting Mick Foley, my new found interest in professional wrestling, and my initial academic thoughts on professional wrestling and Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment in particular.

Since that time, I signed up for the WWE Network, the new online-only initiative recently launched by the WWE to serve as their “television network.” With the network, we can watch old matches, including the ECW and WCW shows, and we can watch the live pay-per-view extravaganzas as well as current shows like Main Event and NXT. We haven’t explored too much yet, but we have found it fun to have this huge library of content available.

wwenetwork_img1Now, this post is not a plug for the network. From an academic angle, the existence of the network is interesting, although it may be doing more harm than good for the company at this time. What the presence of the network indicates is another example of what interests me about professional wrestling: the convergent nature of it.

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An Encoding-Decoding-Recoding Model of Media Studies

This blog posts continues the dissection of my dissertation that I began by introducing the topic of gendered media engagings earlier this year. This post focuses on a model I used in my dissertation to understand the array of media studies conducted to investigate the ways in which gender is involved in how people engage with media products. As with so many interested in understanding audience reception of the media, I have been highly influenced by the late, great Stuart Hall’s work on what has become known as the “encoding/decoding model” in media studies. Now, I, with much humility, wonder if this classic model could be improved with one more step: recoding.

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The Humanity in the Planet of the Apes

6727441_9743863_lzI remember coming to the Planet of the Apes not through the original movies but through other cultural products. There was the musical rendition on The Simpsons. There was the end of the neighborhood in Spaceballs. And I am sure there were others. I was, after all, not born when the series started, and given my love of science fiction even as a child, it would have been nearly impossible for me not to stumble upon the twist ending before seeing it.

But knowing the twist ending did not impair my love of the movie when I first saw it. Yes, the reveal is a perfect Twilight Zone ending to drive home the anti-war message of the movie. But the movie has many more layers than just containing an anti-war message. Indeed, a movie about apes was able to speak to many aspects and problems of humanity of the 1960s and 1970s, but also of the centuries before and the time after that tumultuous period. And the movies that followed have continued the thematic nature of the first, all the way up to the current Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  

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Blackwater Valley Exorcism: Equating Demonic Possession with Sexual Assault

When The Exorcist (1973) was first released, it spawned numerous foreign rip-offs and B-movie exploitative versions.  From Şeytan (1974) in Turkey to the reworking of the Italian film ‘Lisa e il diavolo’ (1974/1975)into The House of Exorcism, foreign producers created their own takes on the story of young women being possessed, with more or less successful results. Other foreign appropriations and perspectives include:

  • the German film Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil aka Magdalena: The Devil Inside the Female aka ‘Magdalena, vom Teufel besessen’(1974)
  • the Braziilian film The Bloody Exorcism of Coffin Joe aka O Exorcismo Negro (1974)
  • the Italian film The Antichrist aka The Tempter aka “L’anticristo” (1974)
  • the Italian film Beyond the Door aka Chi sei? (1974)
  • the Spanish film Exorcismo (1975)
  • the Italian film The Night Child aka Il medaglione insanguinato (1975)
  • the French film Exorcisme aka Exorcism aka Les possédées du diable (1974/1975)
  • the British film To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

Similarly, in the United States, Abby (1974) aka The Blaxsploitation Exorcist brings a different cultural perspective to this idea of possession and exorcism.  The extent to which these movies deal specifically with demonic possession and subsequent exorcism, or are just marketed as being about such, varies from movie to movie, but the existence overall represents an attempt to capitalize on the popularity and financial success of the exorcist film that started it all.

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An Autoethnography of Collegium – Day Four

Day 4: Tuesday, June 24th

Sometimes you have to get so tired — you have to so completely bump up against your body’s limitations — to be able to overcome those limitations, feel good about the success, and develop new ones.

That lovely sentiment being said — I am really tired.  Many of us are.  The organizers must have known that this would happen, and they scheduled today to be one of reflection.  No readings.  No required meetings.  No lectures.  Just the option to engage in individual and/or group reflection.  To retreat to somewhere for contemplation, introspection, and relaxation.

Several retreat options were made available to us if we so desired some structure to this process.  One involved a morning trip to the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center & Wildlife Sanctuary.  Since a) I love all things nature and b) we have been cooped up here for days now, I jumped at the chance to just go for a walk in the woods.  The goal, of course, was to have us reflect on our relationship with nature and what the walk could help us comprehend about the sacred, the divine, the holiness of creation.

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An Autoethnography of Collegium – Day Three

Day 3: Monday, June 23rd

The reason I came to Collegium is for a specific purpose, one that could potentially help my university.  So it is interesting that what I have gotten out of it so far has been more relevant to a research project that has been in the back of my mind for years.

At my university, I have been helping to develop a sense of how to approach online and blended learning for our students, as well as to help faculty develop their online and blended courses.  One of the issues that we have discussed in this process has been the extent to which we are able to translate the research-centered teaching we have been honing on campus from the face-to-face learning environment to the online environment.  Part of this is to be able to maintain a quality of our institution’s educational experience that makes us distinct in the area.  Another part of this is to be able to maintain a commitment to a Dominican and Catholic approach to higher education.  As part of this process, I was awarded a fellowship to further investigate how to translate the Catholic ethos of higher education to an online learning community.

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An Autoethnography of Collegium – Day Two

Day 2: Sunday, June 22nd

On the topic of mass…

I am still uncomfortable joining in on the spiritual sessions and Catholic Eucharist ceremonies that are scheduled for this colloquium.  I feel like an intruder, an interloper, a negative presence.  There is nothing that anyone here has said or done that has made me feel this way.  In fact, I appreciate their willingness and desire to offer a blessing to those who beseech it, such as those other other religious affiliations who would like to experience the ritual.  And they offer many different spiritual discussions that I am sure can be seen as less denomination than the sacramental rituals.  But I would feel disingenuous in being blessed, as it would have no impact on me.  I do not believe, that is the simple truth of it all.  Perhaps before the end of this week, I will venture into one session, just to listen, which appears to be my main goal here, as I cannot partake in conversations about religion.

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