“This is Awesome!” But is it Art? The Aesthetics of Pro-Wrestling

06 December 2017; 16:00-18:00

Senate House – Room 234


Familiar within the philosophy of art are discussions of whether or not ‘X’ is art, where X is (the product of) some sort of shared human activity or cultural practice that has not traditionally been viewed as having art-status. In recent times, for instance, we’ve seen this question asked of food, fashion, and comic books, to name a few examples. In this talk, I turn this question onto the practice of pro-wrestling – a world-wide performance phenomenon that occupies a somewhat strange place in the landscape of appreciation. Serious sports fans shun it, citing its alleged ‘fakeness’ as a reason for not engaging with it; meanwhile, pro-wrestling institutions, like WWE, refer to their product as ‘sports entertainment’. While many would accept the ‘entertainment’ classification, few people would be willing to describe pro-wrestling as art. Yet there is a case to be made for its being art, and I will aim to make this case by appealing to pro-wrestling’s physical, narrative, fictional, and dramatic features to show that it is a complex aesthetic product that can be appreciated on many levels.