During my audio post I mentioned I was going to write a little something about The Sun newspaper and the personal dilemma it creates in my wrestling related life. As I said before, if you’re British I don’t need to explain The Sun to you. You just know what it’s all about. But as there are a number of people from outside the UK reading this blog, I’d better give you a run-down.
In the grand scheme of British journalistic life, The Sun is considered trash. But it’s the best at being trash. Know what I mean? It’s trash, it knows it’s trash, and it doesn’t care. It’s a tabloid that peddles deliberately inflammatory headlines, celebrity scandal, tittle-tattle, dubious gossip and female nudity on page three every weekday, just for the sake of publishing a picture of a topless young woman. I’m going to set that as a marker of a non-newspaper. If random and pointless nakedness is the third most important story in your paper every day, you can kind of gauge the kind of publication we’re dealing with here. I will admit though, it’s not anywhere near as questionable as The Daily Star. And the Daily Sport should be on the top shelf next to the jizz mags, not alongside real newspapers and under the children’s magazines.
I do wonder who buys The Sun. I suppose people who want a little light relief early in the morning and not real news. I’m not judging, if that’s what you want to read sitting on the train to work every day, who the hell am I to tell you to read something I might find more stimulating? It’s not my business. I read the Guardian. All us liberal kids, who know our popular media, swoon over upcoming technology releases and intellectualise sport read The Guardian. And yes, we do come under scrutiny for trying to pass ourselves off as cooler than we really are.
So what’s my problem? I’ve got my paper, the ‘light-reliefs’ and brickies have got theirs. You have your little corner of serenity and I parade around in mine waving a story about the fact that Banksy is exhibiting just an hour away from where I live. Here’s the dilemma. Professional wrestling does not exist in the mainstream press. The pre-determined nature of wrestling excludes it from the sports pages, suggesting that it is a fraudulent sport, and the tv critics ignore it as a form of televisual entertainment, assuming it should be on the sports pages. All, that is, except for The Sun.
For all its faults, The Sun gives wrestling serious coverage. It gets big-name interviews, Paul Heyman writes a column for them and they update the news as it happens. I can’t decide if the fact that The Sun’s comprehensive coverage of wrestling means that wrestling is perceived as trash by association, or if I should be pleased that any mainstream newspaper has adopted it as their own and given it a platform. Maybe it’s just that The Sun is the only newspaper to ‘get’ wrestling. Maybe they understand that it’s a strange but compelling mix of sport and entertainment that, if watched with the correct frame of mind, is some of the best entertainment on television. Well. When it’s good, that is. When it’s really bad I think even The Wedding Channel might be better. And I hate that bloody channel.
I would dearly love if some of the more serious newspapers could summon up the courage to cover wrestling events. Even if they do understand its appeal, I wonder if they’re too afraid of being ridiculed or vilified by their readers for dropping their standard to meet that of The Sun. But they could still cover big stories intelligently. And by that, I don’t mean just when a wrestler prematurely dies or there’s some scandalous steroid story. The Guardian would actually be a good place to start. They love popular culture. If they just understood it as a form of entertainment I think they might go for it. Wrestling is cleverer than non-fans might think. Honest. If you don’t agree, you’re not watching it right.
So there’s the dilemma. Do I visit the website of a newspaper I dislike and feel uncomfortable associating with to support their extensive wrestling coverage, celebrate their loyalty to the industry and encourage others to visit, or do I behave like an outright snob, boycott it and miss out on a unique opportunity to read about wrestling in a mainstream media setting? Tricky. I didn’t even want to go and buy The Sun today. Even though I knew it was for the sake of this post, I felt embarrassed. So I asked someone else to pick it up for me.
I wonder if this happens in any other countries. Are there any mainstream newspapers in other countries that treat wrestling with respect and don’t snigger behind fans’ backs? The British tabloid press is world-famous, for all the wrong reasons. I’m not aware of such a fervent, daily, tabloid culture in other countries, but maybe I just haven’t studied them enough. Feel free to enlighten me, guys, either in the comments box or via email.
I’ll probably just get over myself, keep reading The Sun wrestling news and hope that other newspapers will one day understand that the wrestling business deserves coverage, intelligent commentary and serious debate. Whether it is covered as sport or as light entertainment, I don’t really mind, as long its visibility creeps up. Maybe I can help them get the joke. Email me, Guardian. I’ll spell it out for you.