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

A CONTRARIAN’S VIEW OF BANNON’S BANISHMENT

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Content warning: mentions white nationalism, racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia.

By Gary Olson

My take on Steve Bannon’s recent firing is at odds with the celebratory tone I detect from others, especially those claiming it’s a victory for decent people. It was nothing of the sort, and Bannon wasn’t banished for any of the reasons we’ve read about in mainstream media accounts.Continue Reading

ITALY’S FASCIST WATERMELON

by Alex Valente

CW: racism, sexism, fascism

There’s an old home-grown metaphor that runs in the Italian side of my family – which may have been acquired by my great-grandfather through his context and peers, I just have never heard it anywhere else – which goes as follows:

Italy is a watermelon. The thick, green skin on the outside is democracy, the Republic. The thin white layer that keeps everything inside together is the Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democracy, the centre party that governed Italy after WWII, and the ancestor of pretty much all centrist politicians since). The red pulp is the Socialist, Communist heart of the country. But the seed, the black seed from which it all grows – that’s Fascism.

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COMBAT CAPITALISM – THE SHAME OF MAYWEATHER VS MCGREGOR

by Toby Gill

Content warning – sexism, domestic abuse, racism, two very rich men being awful.

Last night, combat sports enthusiasts of the world gathered around their television sets. At the end of a long day’s work, they sunk into their sofas – remote in one hand, perhaps a Bud in the other. Of course, as they have been saying to their less knowledgeable friends for months, this whole fight is simply a farce. Of course, just like everyone else, they are obviously going to watch it. This week has been the world tour: a series of hugely anticipated pre-fight press conferences. Fans now watch eagerly – just to see if there could be some substance to this fight after all.

What they have been greeted with is a steaming, grotesque, shameless turd-like insult to everything they hold dear.

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BLACK WOMEN AND THE FUTURE OF RNB

by Candice Nembhard

Whether it’s Janet Jackson in a purple latex suit, TLC in a spaceship or Aaliyah in the headlights of a motorbike, it is no secret that visual and artistic concepts among RnB artists were undoubtedly ahead of their time. The late nineties/early noughties saw many artists make use of developments in CGI/Camera Technology, fashion, specially-designed sets, and shooting locations. Directors such as Hype Williams and Dave Meyers, noted for their work with Missy Elliot, have gone onto make iconic if not classic visuals young music lovers still reference to this day.

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BILL MAHER: A JOKE

by Richard Worth

CW: discussion of racial slur

Twiglets, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with twiglets. Everything about them disgusts me. Their burnt and bitter flavour, their odd withered and gnarled appearance and the quantity in which I consume them.  Likewise, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with Bill Maher and his show Real Talk.

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WHO ARE THE DUP?

by Rob Harding

Content warning: article mentions terrorism, (anti) abortion, homophobia, racism

So, the election was fun, right? Even if you didn’t vote Labour (and fair enough if you didn’t), watching Theresa May fall from an unassailable lead in the polls all the way to a humiliatingly hung Parliament, in a blizzard of vague soundbites, invasive and inadequate policies and flailing attempts to smear the opposition, was still rather viscerally satisfying in its own way. Early Friday morning saw a weird sense of relief from many who expected a Tory landslide.

Unfortunately, early Friday morning turned to mid-Friday morning, and then suddenly dove back into the bad old days, with the announcement that a desperate May government had decided to form a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to form a government.Continue Reading