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Kayfabe: Politics and Pro Wrestling (Fantasy Politics 1/3)

July 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm PDT

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In this salon (the first of a three-part mini-series), Jake Orthwein will lead a discussion on the parallels between contemporary politics and professional wrestling.

It’s difficult to escape the sense that there’s something unreal about contemporary politics. The narrowness of the Overton Window, the pageantry of the debate stage, the artificial feuding of cable news punditry — all seem to suggest that the real aim of our political system is entertainment and distraction, rather than the humdrum but vital work of actual governance. Add to this the performative outrage streams of social media and we approach something resembling Roland Barthes’s description of professional wrestling: “a sum of spectacles, none of which is a function.”

What can the simulated spectacle of professional wrestling teach us about our strange political reality? How did a reality television star (and WWE Hall-of-Famer) ascend to the presidency? How does wrestling’s combination of onstage conflict and backstage collusion resemble media punditry? What are the real issues that this dramatic performance is distracting us from? Come discuss the rise of fantasy politics and how we might chart our way back toward something resembling reality.

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July 16, 2021
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm PDT
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