Donald Trump Loves Wrestlemania


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Darts and Letters is a show about the politics of ideas, and this week we’re searching for progressive politics in strange places… such as pro-wrestling.

There have been 37 Wrestlemanias. That’s a lot of wrestling. And a lot of entertainment for the millions of people who enjoy watching wrestling, including our host, Gordon Katic. Maybe you’re a fan, maybe not. Fans and non-fans alike have often dismissed wrestling as frivolous. But there’s more to wrestling than meets the tombstone piledriver. Pro wrestling is like a Rosetta Stone for our politics; It brought us one President, and a recent poll suggests it might give us another. On this episode, we jump from the top rope into the wild, layered, complex world of pro wrestling and the folks who love it.

This is part of the week’s theme of “ideas in strange places”. Darts and Letters is doing a different theme each week until we launch the new season on September 18.

  • First (@10:46), Steve and Larson are the hosts of Going in Raw: A Pro Wrestling Podcast. They break down the history of Vince McMahon as a boss, character, and more — including what happens when the lines between the two become blurred inside and outside of the ring. PLUS: the full unedited interview is available on our Patreon. Subscribe today.
  • Next (@37:15), Brian Jansen is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Maine who writes on professional wrestling and labour. Wrestlers are workers, and as workers, face challenges shared by other workers — and some unique to their profession. And their fans, it turns out, are more progressive than you might think.
  • Then (@53:06), the Spider Baby, Terrance Griep, is the world’s first openly gay wrestler. He wrestles in the Midwest Independent Wrestling Scene. He takes us into the world of wrestling, the building and presentation of a character, the immersive theatricality that is part of the experience for both wrestlers and their fans, and the “civil war” between the profession’s old and new guard.
  • Finally (@1:09:30), Heather Levi is an anthropologist at Temple University who wrote her dissertation on lucha libre in Mexico. She even trained in lucha libre. She explores the fascinating world of a sport that is closely bound up with the country in which it thrives and finds a way of making meaning that brings together writers, wrestlers, and the public.

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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn, This episode’s assistant producer is Polly Leger, and our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. The research coordinator was David Moscrop. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

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