Monday, November 5, 2007

For the sake of (pop-)cultural literacy

Those readers who know us know that we don't have TV. We only recently (maybe 2 years ago) got a computer with a DVD drive. What this means is that now we sit around as a family and view parentally approved DVD selections. But as you can imagine, this does not lend itself to much knowledge of pop culture.

A few years ago someone gave us a box of hand-me-downs "...for the boys or the dad. Just look through them and take what you want." You know. Typical hand-me-down admonition.

When I went through this box I found several black T-shirts; obviously of the celebrity variety. The kids and I were looking at them, very puzzled. One was this big ugly drooling bull. Two or three had the face of a very muscular guy with sun glasses and one eye-brow raised. Phrases like "Layin' the smack down," and "Those who are truly unafraid will never know fear." One of them said something about "The Rock." I was totally clueless. I just told the kids maybe he was a singer or something. We could ask their dad when he got home.

Well, Joe is much more tuned into pop culture than am I; although how he carries it off with our limited exposure is beyond me. But he knew that this "The Rock" guy was part of the WWE (otherwise known as professional wrestling). And Joe liked the shirts and still wears them. I have however warned him not to wear the big ugly drooling bull one when he goes to town. I think there might be some people who would be bothered seeing their pastor in such a hideous looking shirt. I mean this bull is pretty scary looking.

For a long time that was the extent of my knowledge of The Rock. At some point I looked him up on line and now know that he is also a movie actor, but I don't think I have ever seen any of the movies he has been in. And he comes from a three generational family of professional wrestlers.

The other day I stumbled upon his book, The Rock Says, in our local used book store. I jokingly showed Joe and he said we should pick it up for a friend who I will let remain nameless since he has not yet received this, uh..., keepsake. So I put it in our stack and we brought it home with our other finds.

But I can't let a book sit around not being read. That just isn't done. So I have spent my leisure moments this last few days reading The Rock Says.

Let's just say I learned a few things. I have added several interesting words and phrases to my vocabulary. I learned way more about professional wrestling than I ever imagined I would know when as kids we used to hoot over the Hulk Hogan commercials. After reading this book a person can't help but admire the multifaceted skills these showmen have to develop. I am only reading the descriptions of the various feats and am in awe of the athletic prowess they must have. And they need stage presence and other acting skills. These men and women must have immense charisma and stamina to do this night after night. Wow.

Now, in the name of cultural literacy, I kind of feel like I have to actually see some professional wrestling. My curiosity has been piqued. I first checked the DVDs available through our local library system. Not anything there that I could find. I then broadened my search to the entire MN library system. Again nothing.

So then I checked Netflix. Now I don't have Netflix, but have periodically considered getting it. For a variety of reasons. But have so far I not succumbed. There are a few WWE titles I found through Netflix. But not necessarily the ones that sounded the best after reading The Rock Says.

My next step was to check Amazon. Well I found a great plenty there, both new and used. WrestleMania XV was the one that sounded good after reading The Rock Says. That one starts at $14.62 used and $39.88 new. But after reading the customer reviews, it seems that the only good match was the final one with The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Well, I am not going to pay $14 for one match.

As I read some more reviews of the different matches, I learned that most hard core professional wrestling fans consider WrestleMania X-Seven to be the best. But that one starts at $36.90 used and $62.72 new. Hmm.

I guess my horizons will have to wait to continue to broaden in this regard. When the opportunity arises, I may just sit down and watch a contest or episode or match or whatever I am supposed to call it.


shawndstafford said...


I read with interest your post on the Rock and wrestling. I followed wrestling closely in the mid-to-late 80s and then again when I was on my vicarage. Conveniently, Thursday night Smackdown was on when I got home from teaching confirmation class. My favorites at that time were the Rock and Mankind. If you really want some interesting reading about what goes on behind the scenes of wrestling and the risks and inuries that can be incurred, I'd recommend Mankind's book "Have a Nice Day." Also the documentary "Beyond the Mat" is very revealing and compelling. If you happen to come across some wrestling DVD's through the library system, which I have on occasion, I'd warn you not to watch them with children. This isn't like the Hulk Hogan era of the 80s. It is much edgier.
If you're interested the plots and the soap opera aspect of wrestling, I'd recommend things from the '99-'2000 era. Even Amy got into the plotlines then. It was like a muscular Days of our Lives.
If you're interested in a very entertaining movie starring the Rock, I'd recommend "The Rundown," which is available through the library. Christopher Walken is the villain and he's hillarious!
Thanks again for this post. Wrestling is one of my guilty pleasures!

theMom said...

OH Shawn,

You are a step ahead of me. Your new book is sitting on top of your Luther movie waiting to be delivered. Thanks for your wisdom in this matter!


Joe Abrahamson said...

You are the funniest man alive. Enjoy your "guilty pleasures." My exposure to wrestling was pretty much limited to All Star Wrestling with Jessie, Adrian, Mr. Sieto, the Destroyer (mark whatever), Bobby the Brain, Larry the Axe Henning, and the Ganges. As you could probably tell, I broke myself of the habit in the late 1970s. But I do like Hulk and the Rock, if for nothing else than nostalgia.


Char said...

Hi Mary,

Just curious if there was anything else that triggered your interest in the Rock.

He does score pretty high in the "Who should play Ranger in the movie" poll. But, I'm sure you never would have thought of that :).


theMom said...

Well, yes, Char, I had heard that as a matter of fact. But really, I am more inclined to cast him as Tank. Especially regarding his size. And I just don't think he has the subtlety to do Ranger. But hey, what do I know. The only places I've ever seen him is those crazy shirts and the photos and story telling in the book.