I woke up this morning with an idea for a blog post: an analysis of Donald Trump using the spectacle of wrestling as a backdrop, sort of an update of the paranoid style in American politics. Donald Trump would be the good guy, or face, who comes to save the day from Mexican, Muslim, and other “heels,” bodyslamming them into oblivion to roars of approval. I’m not a wrestling expert—I have never found its fake drama particularly compelling—but I do have two favorite takes on the subject: Richard Price’s Moth story about watching wrestling with his grandmother, and the ingenious Andy Kaufman/Jerry Lawler mocku-drama I’m From Hollywood (here is a brief rundown from CNN, but, really, watch the movie).
Sadly for me, but happily for you, I discovered that that Chauncey DeVega has already written the definitive Donald Trump pro wrestling essay better than I could have, though he has a slightly different take. Go read it, but here’s an excerpt:
…the storylines in American professional wrestling revolve around the tension between a hero (a “babyface,” in industry parlance, or “face” for short) and a villain (known primarily as the “heel”). In its most basic presentation, the babyface is a likable and honest character who wants to win the approval of the fans. … The heel, meanwhile, is the opposite of the face — a duplicitous, unethical, often cowardly figure, who will cheat to win and who actively antagonizes the fans and his peers….
The role of a champion — especially one who is a villain such as Donald Trump — is to ultimately to lose to a challenger, thus anointing them as the new figure for the fans to support (or alternatively to hate).
DeVega goes on to say that Trump is going off script by refusing to throw the final match. The heel is now triumphant, not the face. There is no vindication of the hero. The essay is brilliant. Perhaps the only problem I have with it is that, by comparing the Donald to professional wrestling, it imbues him with a seriousness and authenticity he doesn’t deserve.