"The spirit of America lives here": US pro-wrestling and the post-9/11 "War on Terror"
Nevitt, L. (2011) "The spirit of America lives here": US pro-wrestling and the post-9/11 "War on Terror". Journal of War and Culture Studies, 3 (3). pp. 319-334. ISSN 1752-6272
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This article argues that the ideological mechanisms and norms used to render the War on Terror both familiar and seemingly inevitable to a wide public have long been present in popular American culture in the form of professional wrestling. The professional wrestling performances of American company WWE attract an enormous global audience of committed followers. This article considers pro-wrestling as an example of what Jon McKenzie calls a regime of normative force, identifying similarities in structure, imagery and rhetoric between a range of WWE performances and the US-led War on Terror. The article analyses the familiar codes of pro-wrestling performance in the contexts of propaganda and ideological reaffirmation. The analysis includes the considerations of performer/spectator relationship, the slippage between fiction and reality, the centrality and inevitability of unending combat and the construction of foreignness in opposition to a paradigmatic America. Through a range of examples of post-9/11 WWE performances, this article will draw out connections between the ongoing state of combat entertainment and the popular US preparedness for an ongoing state of war.
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