2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

"Real American" Orientalism: Examining the Evolution of Orientalism As a Paradox in World Wrestling Entertainment
Johnny Vines♦
Dr. Bob Mielke, Faculty Mentor

In his 1978 book entitled Orientalism, Edward Said examines the network of assumptions and misrepresentations and the consequential false identity of the Middle East as created by Western art, politics and media. Although this is often subtle and arguable, one need only turn to American professional wrestling for a blatant and undoubtedly intentional manifestation of the perversion to which Said refers. This paper theorizes on the general appeal of professional wrestling and then looks at its popularity specifically in American culture. The majority of the paper, however, examines how Orientalism is both evident in and glamorized by World Wrestling Entertainment, the most prominent company in the professional wrestling industry today. This examination reveals that World Wrestling Entertainment, through its “Middle Eastern” characters, manages, in some cases, to actually support the claims made by Said in Orientalism but at the same time vilify the individuals who embody these claims.

Keywords: Orientalism, Edward Said, wrestling, WWE


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 49-4
Location: VH 1304
Time: 3:30

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♦ Indicates Truman Graduate Student
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