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Tag Teams: The High-Contact Sports of Wrestling and Politics
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Politics; Image; Political campaigns
Author: Gitlin, Todd
Date: Nov 8, 1998
Start Page: 3
Section: Opinion; PART- M; Opinion Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Why all the surprise over the victory of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, wrestler and radio talk-show host, now governor-elect of Minnesota on the Reform Party ticket? Politics is wrestling. They're both show-biz sports.

In each, talent matters: the body, the mind, the timing. But so does the fakery, or, to use a kinder word, the simulation. The wrestler works up bravado, grunts with false pain, grimaces in spurious triumph, grins with glee and, in a hundred ways, with a wink and a nod, gives the folks what they want. The folks wink and nod back, because they're in on the joke. They like being taken seriously and like being in on the joke, too, knowing that the other is in on the joke. Everyone's knowing. That's all part of the fun. Very postmodern.

Contemporary faux wrestling requires cooperation skills, too. Dave Meltzer, publisher and editor of the Wrestling Observer newsletter, told a newspaper reporter that Ventura "wasn't really a very good wrestler, but he had charisma. His best move was standing on the apron yelling at the fans while his tag team partner did all the work." Ventura is that modern organization man, a team player, in other words. How reminiscent of Ronald Reagan doing his impersonations of presidentiality from "talking points" while staffs of advisors scripted him.

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