POLITICS AND POWERSLAMS – REACTIONARY NARRATIVES IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING

by Chris Jarvis

CW: sexual assault, racism, ableism, violence, sexism, suicide, murder, mental health

Professional wrestling is big business, and there’s none bigger than the monolithic World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In 2015, its revenue totalled over $650 million dollars, whereas the second largest promotion in the world – New Japan Pro Wrestling – saw a comparatively paltry $30 million. WWE is a cultural and economic behemoth, with profound power and influence wrapped into its carefully crafted and tightly managed brand. Its most successful exports go on to become major cultural icons – film stars, stand up comedians, talk show favourites. WWE alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the world’s second highest paid actor with a barrage of accolades to boot. Dave Bautista has followed in the footsteps of the ‘People’s Champion’, with a major role in the third highest grossing film in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy. In 1999, Mick Foley published the first instalment of his autobiography – Have a Nice Day – which shot to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation. John Cena has granted more ‘wishes’ for the Make a Wish Foundation than anyone else. In 2015, WWE heirs apparent Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor’s Cure, a charity dedicated to researching pediatric cancer, after 8 year old WWE fan Connor ‘The Crusher’ Michalek tragically passed away in 2014. Most recently, programming of Raw and Smackdown were interspersed with fundraising vignettes for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation.

Beneath the shimmering veneer WWE have created, though, lies a murky and unpleasant history. Continue Reading

BODIES

by Alice Thomson

I’ve been thinking a lot about my body recently. In the last month I’ve been pushing it pretty hard, so I have a lot to reflect on. I talked about going to the March for Europe in my last article, and the preparation I put in beforehand to make sure my body would survive. Since the march, I have been doing a lot of walking and swimming. This brings feelings of terror and excitement. I fear I will dislocate and put myself back in my wheelchair. But I’m excited to feel the freedom my body hasn’t experienced in over five years. My current mission is to make myself stronger, stable, and resilient.

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ACTING DISABLED: WHY WE NEED TO SEE DISABILITIES ONSCREEN

by Alice Thomson

(Content warning: discussion of ableism & ableist slurs)

The summer of 2016 saw outrage in response to the film Me Before You and its portrayal of disability. The film, directed by Thea Sharrock and based on the book by Jojo Moyes, is a romance following the lives of a young man (played by Sam Claflin) and woman (Emilia Clarke). Where’s the controversy in that, you ask? Well…

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I’M A FEMINIST, BUT

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by Alice Thomson

I’ve known a few women who’ve said, “I would never get married. I wouldn’t be a good feminist if I did.” What does it mean to be a ‘good feminist?’ Do we even want to be feminists, especially when feminists are frequently derided as man-haters? How did it come to this? I always thought feminism was about gender equality. From an uneducated standpoint I understood it to be a movement designed to create equal opportunities for women within work, politics, home and social life, but it seems to have become so much more than this. Feminism means different things to different people. I’m no expert on the subject, but I’d like to think I am a feminist even though I’ve never read a book on the matter. So I decided to try and educate myself – and here is what I understand:

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NO, HATE CRIME LAWS AREN’T CENSORSHIP – AND HERE’S WHY

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by Paige Selby-Green

I was disappointed but not surprised to see Concrete publish this article last week about how hate crime laws are supposedly on par with censorship. I wish I was more surprised, but the simple fact is that this opinion isn’t uncommon even though it is eye-wateringly ignorant. It boils down to people flailing their arms and squawking about free speech and the right to an opinion. Well, I’ve got a question for all you believers – why is it more important to you to protect an opinion than it is to protect actual people?

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REVIEW: AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES, BY JOHN GREEN

by Carmina Masoliver

I picked this book up on my travels from a Silent Meditation Retreat in Ubud, Bali. Reading a good book is like meditation for those of us whose minds won’t shut up. It’s something I know I should do more, especially as an English Literature graduate and as a writer. But in the age of social media, I find myself clicking on different articles deep into the night instead. That said, a good writer will keep you hooked enough to pull you away from such distractions.

I had read John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, which rightfully brought him to critical acclaim (as well as a film deal). An Abundance of Katherines was first published ten years ago, but is seeing a revival now that Green is a bestselling author. I felt excited to start reading it, and I enjoyed it so much that I made sure I had a copy waiting for me when I returned home, in between jetting off to Spain, where I’m now living.Continue Reading

STOP USING INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY IN ONLINE DEBATE

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by Carmina Masoliver

“You can’t even use apostrophes.” I may not have always said it, but I’m certainly guilty of thinking it and similar things to do with punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Whether directed at someone during an online debate, or used to make yourself superior because someone else has bigoted views or an unfavourable political standpoint. Even in cases where someone is verbally attacking you and making personal comments, you’re not the better person for commenting on their intellect or education.
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