That’s your response to today’s blog title. “What is this lunatic talking about now? Wrestling fans helping cowboy movies?!”
But it’s true. Old westerns owe a debt of gratitude to wrestling fans, and I’ll explain why, in the list, below.
Reason #1: wrestling fans share our love of cowboy movies!
I’ve never met a wrestling fan that wasn’t also a fan of cowboy movies. And, since their main subject of interest/hobby (wrestling) has not diminished, rather it has increased, there are thousands more wrestling fans, and younger ones, too. That means, by the evidence of sheer numbers alone, wrestling fans have been doing more to keep westerns alive than we that have westerns as our main subject of interest/hobby. I mean, there’s more of them than there are of us, so we owe them for bringing most of the support of keeping westerns alive.
Wrestling, over the past one-hundred years, has grown in popularity, in entertainment market share. Westerns, on the other hand, have greatly diminished in market share. Consequently, not many, new westerns are made, so their popularity diminishes because they are almost culturally forgotten.
The good news is that, largely because of our box-office-ticket-buying, wrestling fan brothers and sisters, and some other interest groups that I will soon write about, the western movie genre isn’t completely dead because wrestling fans also tend to be cowboy movie fans. Wrestling fans are wonderful, genre-supporting helpers, kindred spirits of us cowboy movie fans.
Reason #2: wrestling fans teach the world how to have fun!
I used to make fun of wrestling fans because I thought they were nuts. I thought they believed wrestling was real because they get so worked up whenever a villain wrestler slams a good guy wrestler. I used to think that most wrestling fans have the brain of a bird because they follow character feuds and running storylines, as if the wrestling personas and backstories are real.
“Gullible wrestling fans,” I used to scoff to myself, as I shook my head, “they think this stuff is real!” Then, when in my late 30’s, I was forced to work with a man that we’ll call Bobby T, co-worker, now retired, a man, now my friend.
Bobby T is someone with whom it is easy to talk and share your honest thoughts. So, when I saw that he was older then me, therefore, presumably, wiser, but was spending his hard-earned money on local wrestling tickets, and when I listened to him drone, on and on, about the histories of each wrestler’s feuds, when I saw him forking out cash to read wrestling magazines and wrestling related books, this professional, this highly paid computer programmer, I asked him how he had managed to escape from the loony bin.
“How can you believe this stuff is real?” I scoffed, loudly, “are you nuts?” And that’s when Bobby T explained to me the concept of being a “mark.” I learned, that day, as Bobby T explained it to me. So, thankfully, my friend isn’t crazy – he’s brilliant! He, and all wrestling fans, have figured out the secret to having fun. It involves making oneself a “mark,” a bonafide, plain-as-day, emblazoned symbol of a product, someone easily identified as a loyal buyer and full supporter of that product.
Definition of a “mark,” found on Wikipedia:
“A wrestling fan who enthusiastically…loses sight of the staged nature of the business while supporting their favorite wrestlers.”
I’m a writer, and, as a writer, I’ve dabbled in writing fiction, and every fiction writer, as well as every fiction reader, understands the vital principle of enjoying a fictitious story is to forget that it’s all make-believe.
It’s called “suspending disbelief,” and most of us know how to do it, and most of us practice it every week. Essentially, we subconsciously command our brains to suspend our concept of reality for a while. We give ourselves permission to go nuts and to enter a world, which we know is unreal, in order to play, to decompress, to engage in adventure, to forget about our real troubles and stresses, to relax, to have some needed recreation, excitement, adventure and some good, old FUN!
Children easily and often suspend belief; we adults call it an “active imagination.” Kids become glued to the screen while watching Power Rangers battle three-headed, robotic monsters. Kids toss back their heads and delightfully laugh, when Tom slams his head, into the wall, chasing Jerry. Kids become completely caught up in the story, the fictitious characters, they allow themselves to be totally immersed in the fake world, to enjoy it and to experience great fun.
These 10 year-old kids know that cats and mice don’t really act like Tom & Jerry, when humans aren’t around; they understand that Power Rangers don’t exist, but, somehow, kids and wrestling fans have figured out, better than most other people, how to suspend disbelief, how to make themselves loyal to the players, the story writers, and the product that they love to consume, so that the product consumes them. Kids and wrestling fans teach us how to escape from reality by turning ourselves into marks for a spell.
Kids, many times a week, in front of the television or theatre screens, or playing in back yards, kids turn themselves into marks; they believe what they want to believe, in order to make themselves happy.
Bobby T had a very tough life and a stressful job. Many of us do, also. Wrestling fans have taught us how to be mentally diverted, but in a non-destructive, fun way. Kids and wrestling fans teach us that it’s better to sometimes spend time inside The Undertaker or Hulk Hogan’s world, or Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy’s ranch, than to spend every waking moment inside of our own world. All we need do is rediscover our inner child, reclaim our rich gold mines of imagination, by suspending disbelief, by giving ourselves over to experiencing a wonderful world, and turning ourselves into marks, a joyous believer and participant in exciting, adventurous worlds filled with the magic of make-believe.
Reason #3: wrestling fans teach us how to properly support special entertainment providers!
Those of us that claim to have cowboy movies as our main subject of interest, our favorite hobby and pastime, need to measure up to wrestling fans if we hope to see western genre movies, and television series, come back, fully, where they belong, in our culture.
We say that we enjoy, that we love cowboy movies, but how much do we spend on related books and magazines, on reading, discussing, learning? When a new cowboy movie debuts, do we purchase the movie theatre tickets, in order to show Hollywood that we want more product, or do we let film leave the movie theatre and wait for the DVD to come out?
Wrestling fans have a passion for fun and they support the creators of their fun. Wrestling fans get into the whole experience, get into the practice of showing up, get into fully participating. Wrestling fans know the importance and fun of being seen and heard. They take responsibility for the success of their beloved pastime, interest, hobby. They buy tickets to the arena matches. They shell out money for close circuit events. They buy and read magazines and books about wrestlers, yet their wrestling heroes and their wrestling worlds are no more real than our western heroes and our western worlds. And all of this loyal support has immeasurably helped promote wrestling, throughout the world, so we should be inspired, by our wrestling fan friends, to do as they do, when it comes to our western film genre, our hobby, our pasttime.
When was the last time you tried watching a silent western or investigated their importance? When did you last commit to going out and buying a theatre ticket for a western, no matter how good the review, just to literally show the film’s producers and cast how very much you appreciate their efforts on your behalf? When was the last time that you invited some friends over to share a meal and watch an old western that none of you have ever seen? When did you last buy or read a magazine, a novel, a biography related to cowboy movies, the actors, directors, story writers or about the history of western genre film or about the Old West? What are you doing with your extra time and extra money, Mr. Cowboy Movie Fan, Ms. Cowboy Movie Fan?
Talk to any genuine wrestling fan and it won’t take long for you to see that they have been giving fierce loyalty and support to wrestling. Wrestling fans watch the events, pay, top dollar, for live and HBO-type events, thus declaring their fan presence by putting money into the pockets of those that created and delivered them all the tremendous fun.
Wrestling fans make it their business to be heard and to be full participants in the evolution of wrestling entertainment, which is why they purchase and read books and magazines, in order to keep up with things, possibly help shape the future just by showing themselves present and dependable, loyal and enthusiastic.
Wrestling fans get it done, which is why wrestling continues to grow stronger, in our American culture and all over the world. And we need to do exactly what our wrestling fan brothers and sisters do. We need to be loyal, enthusiastic supporters of westerns. We need to buy the theatre tickets, instead of waiting for the DVD release. We need to intentionally participate in reading and contributing to western genre film websites, and Internet bulletin boards, in order to “talk up” our beloved friend, the cowboy movie. We need to give box-office support to the new cowboy movies and we need to promote the old cowboy movies, which we’ve long neglected, by watching them with our kids and grandkids. We’ve got to wrestle against the status quo, dang burn it!
Cowboy movie fans can learn a lot about properly supporting cowboy movie entertainment providers by simply watching how they support their wrestling entertainment providers.
There you have it, and I am a serious as a June Bug stuck in a pumping butter churn: we need to give a special award to wrestling fans for helping cowboy movies.
Shake a wrestling fan’s hand, today, and pat them on the back a few times; Hoppy and Gene and Roy would do it!
In the meantime, remember, from me and my dad, its always better to say your nightly prayers laying under a tree, on a starry night. It’s better to find something to smile about, instead of feeling down. And it’s best to keep this world’s trail dust out of your eyes, because you gotta be able to see to help someone.
– Rick Bowden