Tuesday, February 10, 2009

WWE wrestlers should consider B.C. politics

The province's capital hit the media big time on the weekend.
A pro wrestler and pop culture figure named Chris Jericho got in a tussle as he tried to leave the local arena, and apparently decked a young woman. (She hit him first.) WWE fans were transfixed, especially as it all ended up on YouTube.
Then on Monday, MLAs arrived a week early, officially to hold an emergency legislative debate on repealing the balanced budget law. Gordon Campbell has accepted the need to run a deficit when times are tough.
Really, the opening of the legislature marks the beginning of the next phase in the election campaign that will end with a vote on May 12.
And that process has a lot in common with the World Wrestling Entertainment that provides a stage for Jericho.
And a big stage it is. A search on Google News revealed 1,402 stories about the altercation and its aftermath. The YouTube video had some 500,000 viewings by Tuesday morning.
The parking lot scuffle was, at least based on peoples' interest around North America, the biggest story out of Victoria in at least 15 years.
And within hours, it was being spun like a square dancer at the Williams Lake round-up.
Jericho, an interesting performer who slogged his way through a northern Manitoba wrestling circuit before hitting the bigs, was either a victim or a thug. Both worked for the wrestling fans, given his bad-guy ring persona. (He is an interesting guy - actor, writer, musician and professional celebrity.)
And spin is what we can expect over the next 12 weeks, as we count down to election day. Either party could hire Jericho and his advisers to guide their campaigns; the biggest differences between them and the parties' operatives are neck size and net worth. (The pro wrestling guys win on both counts.)
That's not really true, I admit. Almost all of the campaigners in the provincial election campaign are convinced they are offering a better path for the province's future. The wrestlers just want to make some money and stay in the public eye.
But the way the politics play out - the preening, the posturing and the over-the-top histrionics, the determination to divide the world into evil villains and white knights - has much in common with WWE wrestling. All that's missing are the steroids.
Our politicians don't slug spectators, for the most part. (Jean Chretien's attempted throttling of a critic being an exception.) But during question period, their feigned outrage and anger are every bit as rude, abusive and silly as the wrestlers' rants after every show.
It's too bad that what should be one of the more serious jobs in society has so much in common with a violent, sexist, cartoonish sports-entertainment-circus sideshow.
And it's mystifying. Out of 79 MLAs, there are bound to be a few whose emotional volume level is always set at 11. And you can expect a handful who actually think it's fun to shout insults at each other, like playground bullies except in dark suits.
But mostly, the people who become MLAs start with the idea of making things better in their communities. And by that, they don't mean making things better for their supporters, but for everyone.
Much of the time, they win the nominations in part because they have shown they can bring people together instead of dividing them. The NDP candidate might have attracted notice on the labour council, but she was also a good school trustee who worked well with parents and teachers. The Liberal candidate might have won praise as chamber of commerce head, but he's also respected for the great job he did rounding up volunteers to work on a new playground.
Then, for too many, something happens when they get elected. The next thing you know, they're standing up in the legislature and shouting about the other side's determination to destroy the province.
It's appalling behaviour in wrestlers; profoundly destructive in politicians.
Footnote: If you think I'm exaggerating, read the transcripts of question period, available on the government web site. (Click on Legislative Assembly on the main page, then Debates, then any afternoon session. Or for a grimmer view, tune in to the legislative broadcast around 1:50 p.m. most days.

1 comment:

Gazetteer said...

"the biggest differences between them (the Wrestlers) and the parties' operatives are neck size and net worth...."

There is, of course, at least one other difference Mr. W.

Which is the number of eyeballs that will watch Wrestlers v. Operatives on YouTube (or any other media for that matter).

Maybe a cage match between the two groups is in order.