Saturday, December 03, 2005

Good Guy, Bad Guy

I remember when I was a boy my brother and I would curl up under a blanket and watch professional wrestling into the wee hours past fridays midnight. As young males, we enjoyed it immensely. Especially when the female wrestlers had a go on the mat. It did'nt matter if the females were midgets. It still was the best show on televison as far as we were concerned. Especially that part. Other than looking at splayed female legs it made absolutly no sense to me that any male would watch and I was then, as I am now, amazed that people, male and female alike, responded to wrestling as if what they were watching was genuine. Could a look of surprise be the only serious damage resulting from having one's face run into a metal pole at the other side of a wrestling ring by their opponent?

So mind you, even as a boy I didnt believe for a minute that what I was watching was real. Even when I started to get a little enthusiastic when the fake blood came out, I still knew that it was rigged. Not only was the whole deal rigged, but it soon became apparent that each bout in this minstral show of muscles followed a predictated pattern, easily discenable to even my dullard of a brother. Surely everyone knew the drill-the good guy comes in bathed in the sustained loud roar of approval from the gleeful audience. HE has arrived. Shortly therafter, always before the crowd has calmed down, but after suitable parading about in the ring by the hero to the approval of the crowd below, a dischelved mutant of an overgrown human being known as the bad guy slithers down the asile and into the ring. EVIL has arrived. The crowds mood goes sour immediatly and the first of the loud substained boos begin. After some arrogant posturing by the bad guy to the crowd in response to these boos a tiny bell rings somewhere. The noise from the crowd goes down a notch. The two join each other in the center of the ring, opposite to each other and glaring past a tiny rather nervous looking male usher looking for all the world as though he regreted choosing this particular nocturnal employemnt to supplement his income. The rules are read and the combatants ordered to engage in combat with an official sweep of the ushers hand, who then follows the sweep well onto the nearest corner.

After the usher has found the maximum distance from the pair of gargatuans, lest he be struck by one or the other flying thru the air, the real beginning of the match was underway. The steely eyed blond good guy held open palmed- finger spread hands into the air challenging the bad guy to take it with his hands in a like manner so that then and there they could get things straight, i.e, who had the strongest grip. This sacramental rite, the invitation to the stare down, was, and still is, equivalent to genuflexing before kneeling to pray, and each and every bout was preceded by it or some variation therof. Apparently thrown off guard at this display of confidence by the blond good guy, the bad guy tentativly raised his hands then lowered them, shook his head, snarled, circled the good guy for a few steps, raised his hands then lowered them, shook his head, snarled, then circled the good guy for a few more steps until the crowd was worked into a fever pitch. Finally, after spitting on the audience in fury for their disrespect of his cowardice, or good judgement, depending on the way one looked at it, the bad guy finally grasped the good guys hand. Big mistake, or so it seemed at first. The obligatory test of strength was on. For a suspenseful minute or two, it looked like the bad guy may have had a chance, as each of them stood in stasis, coiled wires ready to burst. Eventually the good guy brought the bad guy to his knees via superior arm and hand strength. There, on his knees, begging for mercy, shaking his head sideways, no, no, no in a pathetic display of cowardice that only made the crowd boo even louder, the now innocent eyed bad guy implored the good guy to relent.

At this point in ancient Rome, every last thumb would have been down already. And in his goodness, as good guys are won't to do, the good guy released the bad guys hand, perhaps unwilling to risk his hero status by such irretrivably bad form as to head butt a man kneeling before him. This proved to be an error in judgement as the bad guy immediatly punched the good guy well below the belt with his now free right hand, a not too difficult move inasmuch as the bad guy was still on his knees anyway. Simultaneously clutching his crotch and closing his legs while standing, ala Micheal Jackson, the good guy stood there bent over, frozen in his tracks. The bad guy, always the first to see an open window of opportunity, often gave another quick short jab to the midsection for good measure before standing up. Upon standing, the bad guy would grab the now helpless hero by the back of the hair with left hand so that the target of his drawn back fisted right would land accurately on the next window of opportunity that presented itself, the hero's face. Ground zero for the incoming missle of bone and flesh was the hero's nose. The hero, although staggering in place from the mighty blow that produced nothing more than an odd anachronistic slapping noise upon impact despite it's high velocity, remained upright. After a flurry of these strikes, no doubt inconsequential to the good guy in light of the pain in his groin, the bad guy backpedelled to the ropes behind him and in sling shot fashion launched himself towards the good guy standing alone and helpless in the center spotlight of the mat. Hurling forward, the bad guy had his choice of any number of exotic moves known only to wrestlers. Flying off the ropes by the bad guy signalled to the crowd that the good guy, maybe this week, will be dethroned, good guy or not. After it, it's happened before. My favorite off the ropes slingshot move, no matter who performed it, was the clothesline. With one arm outstreatched like, you guessed it, a clothesline, the bad guy caromed off the ropes towards the good guy, positioning the aforementioed horizontal stiff arm so that it would be met by the good guys neck and sure to snap it before the good guys soon be horizontal frame hit the mat below.

In cases where the good guy was desperate, a last effort measure such as this was approved of but ordinarily such showboating was destained by the good guys, preferring of course, to fight fair. Unless the bad guy was, heaven forbid, about to win. This drove the crowd absolutly crazy with anger. Another long sustained boo echoed in the televised arena. The bad guy would vainly parade around the ring in defiance of the crowds disaprroval over his crude but effective battle stratgems in the ring. Meanwhile, on the mat below, the good guy desperatly tried to recover from the foul play that brought him to the mat. For a while the good guy would get his ass kicked. Then the bad guy would get his ass kicked.

This went on back and forth, each iteration of rally, falter, rally begat even more spectacular gymnastics from each man. Eventually the use of a steel chair applied quickly to the head of the good guy or some other equally unthinkable behavior on the part of the bad guy signalled the end of the one act pantomine. Soon in the tradition of the best of theater the hero will rally one last time, ironically fueled by the behavior of the bad guy which had finally gone beyond the pale. With blood dramatically staining his golden locks and covering his forehead and a good part of his face, the good guy, in a triumphal display of superhuman strength and endurance, brings to bad guy to justice in a most spectacular fashion. Ordinarily this would be accomplished by raising the bad guy overhead, slamming him to the floor, then jumping on him, usually from the highest point in the ring, the nearest post. Balancing precariously on top of the post the good guy flies down, as if from Heaven, to destroy yet another bad guy. Needless to say, this one man extreme pig pile elicited a very positive response form the crowd, something akin to mass hysteria, In the center of the ring, under the spotlight, the good guy now covers the twitching bad guys body while the ref, who for all we knew went home for dinner during the match, goes to his kness beside them and inspects the good guys hold to confirm for all the legality of whatever the good guy may have been doing to the pile of legs and arms below him. This would later insure that any petty complaints of foul play such as "he was pinching me" by the bad guy would go unheard. The ref begins the count. The crowd rises to their feet. The bad guy has to 3 to get up and get back to wrestling. Each shouted number was underlined by the loud slap of the refs hand on the mat close to the prostrate, interlaced wrestlers. Soon it would be official. 1 SLAAAP! 2 SLAAAP! 3 SLAAAP! DINGDINGDINGDING! Quick loud pure rings of the bell above the screaming crowds signalled the end of the match between good and evil once more.

With variations, this is how professional wrestling has gone since I can remember. By the time I was a freshman in high school, it no longer had any interest for me at all. By then my pre teen aged hopes of a woman wrestler suddenly finding herself topless after a particulalry clumsy move by her opponant had proven to be futile. Logic dictated, finally, that if it had not happened after all of the viewings of the same old monotonous legs flying in the air stuff, then in all probability the swimsuits they were wearing were designed to withstand the shock of an airplane crash. I and an entire generation of like minded over virile, if there is such a thing, young men were wasting time better spent just masturbating and getting it over with so we could get on with our lives.

Now some 40 years later only the style has changed. The content remains the same. It's still a 2 act morality play. Good versus evil in it's most elemental form, consistantly acted out, stripped of any literary or artistic pretence and available to all, young or old. The mesasge is simple- Good prevails despite the best efforts of evil and fate. ACT 1- THE WORLD IS BORN. The hero enters to the acceptance of the society. This acceptance of good bonds society, here represented by the audience, by affirming that WE are good. But good is not the issue. WE is the issue. WE need security for soon evil will enter the arena. Once again the audience bonds together in the unamimous vigorus renunciation of evil therby affirming once again none of us are actually alone. That is a horrifying premise for humans and every opportunity for reaffirmation that we are not alone is taken unconsiously by each of us each moment of our lives. Deep inside each of us is the doubt, the uncertainty of our own reality, and therfore our own "realness". ACT 2- LIFE EVERLASTING. Good versus evil. The same battle raging on the mat above us rages incessantly within each of us every day. The good part of us falters then rallies again and again.

The part that fewer people may consider because we are taught, hopefully, to think "positively", is that so does the evil part of us falter and rally. And it must either falter and rally in response to good or of it's own accord. Take your pick. The first option is far more palatable for most people than it's frightening alternative. On and on the battle rages. Against all cruelty of fate and evil incarnate itself, the hero emerges victorious once again. The morality play before the crowd has guided each of them from birth thru life victoriously in a scant twenty minutes. Leaving the arena with smiling faces and a refreshed calmness we are renewed for another days battle in the arena outside the arena, our own lives.

6 Comments:

Blogger Pebble said...

This is well-written, thanks Phil.

Good and evil are as necessary as day and night, the ocean's tides receding and returning, the sun rising and setting. Suffering and non-suffering. Birth and death. What if the crowds identified with the evil nasty one and cheered him? I feel insecure just at the thought of it. I cheer the good guy.

"all phenomena are interdependent…endlessly interwoven." This is Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach to good and evil, violence and non-violence. Interbeing. Funny how the good guy in the ring cannot be good without the bad guy there. Yet we boo the bad guy and identify with the good guy? But, wait, one cannot exist without the other. What will we do?

If we get rid of all the bad guys, then what? Can there be good guys?
We need them bad guys. Don't we?

3:19 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Your Welcome Pebbles. Glad you enjoyed it!

6:33 AM  
Blogger Pebble said...

More on good guys--------
I think the good guys feel good about beating on someone. Self-justification for their anger and acting it out. Everyone else approves, too.

There the good guys are-- doing to the bad guy what he's doing to them--it's ok if your good.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Pebble said...

It's ok if your good to be bad.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Pebble said...

Back in the arena, some 50 years later, the bad guy enters the ring as the audience hisses and boos,
and the good guy enters and the same fight ensues. Early in the game, the bad guy sits in the arena, cross-legged, closing his eyes to the blows. The audience is stunned. The bad guy feels no struggle, no conflict, no fight. He hears the silence of the audience, feels the breath entering the nostrils. Feels the pain in the body as he is struck again and again. He feels fear, now anger,warm sensations. Sensations as they are. Not reacting. Hating these feelings, pushing them away, but coming back to the breath. He continues to explore what is happening in this moment, relaxed, observing. No longer needing to be in control. Waves of pleasure arise at the cessation of the blows to his body. The good guy is lost at what to do. The bad guy knows he can't hold on to the pleasure, can't keep the pain from coming. He can be aware. He is in this amazing world of sensation, all of it changing.

He has glimpses of a little boy. 6 years old? Being beaten by a gang of older boys on his way to school. Defenselessness. It continues. He sees his dad strike him when he doesn't translate a letter from the English into German fast enough. And those times he was hit in school. He still doesn't know what it was he did wrong. He is so little.

Tears come to his closed eyes and flow down his cheeks. When he cautiously opens them, he sees good guy cross-legged sitting in front of him, eyes closed.

Good guy didn't feel good anymore when bad guy sat down. He sits across from bad guy. What else can he do? There is an expectant air in the audience. Good guy feels his breath in his belly, rising and falling. Feels angry at this turn of events. Sits with that feeling. Not reacting. Breatheing. Self-righteousness appears. His anger is ok because he is right. This isn't supposed to be happening. Back to the breath. Gives anger space, embraces it. Hears bad guy breathe. Hears the silence of the audience. Control this, do something, the sensations in his body seem to be saying. Do anything. He watches the sensations, gives them more space. Is aware again of his belly rising as he breathes.

He remembers his mom, a victim to his dad's beatings. He is maybe 3 years old? Mom is crying, screaming, her face bleeding. What could he do? He was so little.
Tears come to his eyes.

Good guy looks into bad guys eyes, sees the same tears. Sees a miror. For a moment good guy and bad guy are one. Good guy reaches over and embraces bad guy. The audience remains silent, something has changed. No one can say what it is, something has changed. Family by family, one by one, people filter out of the auditorium. A sadness hangs over the arena. People have their arms wrapped around loved ones, walk closely, they look in the eyes of those around them, as if to say, we are one. At home, they linger over the beds of their children, talk with them. Kiss them goodnight.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Rob M. said...

I like this story on good & evil; as it shows how many people in our society have to boost their egos by finger-pointing & blaming bad guys and bonding with so-called good guys. Many people will do anything & everything to not focus and own their flaws, because they're not the problem- it's those bad guys out there who are the problem such as the drug dealers, those folks on welfare, people of color, or anyone who thinks and feels different than they do.
It's actually sad how the bad guys in professional wrestling get to represent for many people the so-called bad people in our society. Thus, I can see why many racists would see professional wrestling as the greatest show on earth. I'm not saying that everyone who watches and enjoys profesional wrestling is extremely racist. But when you get down to the brass nails, all of us- black, white and red, carry racism within us. It's not out there with the bad people, it's inside of each & everyone of us.
Thus, even something as innocent as professional wrestling shows us how we are a society who lives and breathes personal and social denial. The alternative of looking at ourselves and owning our faults is terrifying.
Rob M.
Rob M.

8:54 AM  

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