Ideological "smackdown": A textual analysis of class, race and gender in WWE televised professional wrestling

Casey Brandon Hart


The focus of this study is an in-depth intertextual examination of how the WWE in 2010 and by extension contemporary professional wrestling in general represents a microcosm of modern cultural ideology. The study examines three major areas in which this occurs. The first of these areas is that of class values. This section focuses on the establishment and extension middle-American values, defined as those values generally shared by the middle-class of the United States. The second section of this study focuses on how the WWE uses racial commodification in the treatment of people of color. Using concepts of Marxist power and Critical Race Theory this section breaks down the use of stereotypical imagery connected with Blacks and Hispanics and theorizes to possible social effects such representations may cause. The final section within this analysis focuses on female representation within the masculine melodrama that is professional wrestling as epitomized by the WWE. Specifically, the section examines the use of mean girl imagery through the lens of Marxist power theories. The section theorizes that by building on a mean girl archetype within villainous characters, the WWE essentially creates a target that embodies most/all of those characteristics deemed unattractive or unappealing in females. Considering the finding and analysis of the main three sections the final discussion extends the study by suggesting further research to test audience recall and response to the imagery and representation examined within this study.