March 7, 2009
Last Monday I noticed something that I was doing that pretty accurately describes me as a person. I had just come back from the used book store, where I bought three books: The Red Badge of Courage, The German-Jewish Dialogue, and Death of a Salesman. I returned home at 8:30. I sat down and started reading the shortest book of the three, Death of a Salesman. I like reading shorter books; it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something in a short amount of time. I was about an hour into reading it when I thought to myself, “Oh Crap! WWE’s Monday Night Raw is on!” I turned the TV on, put the sound on mute, and continued reading the literary masterpiece while glancing up every now and again to see hairless leviathans beat each other senseless.
Two of America’s greatest stage plays were in front of me.
They say that great philosophies should be applicable to all of mankind. “They” being the fictional group of intellectual people in my mind that came up with that previous phrase to further prove my point which I am about to present. As I read Arthur Miller’s words, I realized that a number of poignant parallels could be drawn between the plot and characters of Death of a Salesman and Professional Wrestling.
The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell. – Charley
The term “sell” in the lexicon of Pro Wrestling takes on a different meaning. “Selling a move,” means that you’ve acted as though the move put on you by your opponent actually hurts. But you must know where to draw the line, or else the audience won’t buy it; you can’t writhe in agony when your opponent gives you a snapmare takedown the same way you would if Bret “The Hitman” Hart put you in his patented Sharpshooter. There is a delicacy to selling. The salesman has to know where the line is.
You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit. – Willy
You have to keep in mind that Willie Loman’s downfall was expecting others to be kind. He thought that personality beget friends and friends beget money. In fact, it is just the reverse, according to Arthur Miller. Much is the same in the Professional Wrestling world. A wrestler is only as good as his last performance. There have been many people who have reached the pinnacle of the industry, WWE World Champion, only to fall from grace because of the fickle nature of the crowd. Just ask the Ultimate Warrior. He was at the top of the food chain for many years. But his irrational behavior and decreased performance “ulltimately” led to his spiral in to irrelevance. Once he was used up, he was obsolete.
“Nothing’s planted; I don’t have a thing in the ground.” – Willy
The life of a traveling salesman is a lot like the life of a professional wrestler. But the highs of closing a sale or winning a match are accompanied by other factors. I’ve heard of the trials and the tribulations that the traveling lifestyle impose on superstars. Much like Willie Loman, they are on the road for the majority of their lives, in strange cities where the only places with an air of familiarity are the chain restaurants. All the hotel lobbies blend together into one indistinguishable vapor of a memory. Home is almost a formality. They have no time to tend their gardens.
That’s right. I just linked Death of a Salesman with WWE wrestling.
Didn’t think that was possible?