Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Friday Night Heroes: Small-Town Wrestling in Tennessee

Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Friday Night Heroes: Small-Town Wrestling in Tennessee

Article excerpt

In local auditoriums, national guard armories, gyms, and bars, people gather to watch epic battles between heroes and villains. These are regular working people, waitresses and factory workers, farmers and mechanics, retail clerks, young and old, all seeking a release from the mundane routines of life, present to witness a spectacle at times shocking and repulsive, at other moments truly comedic and falsely tragic in its performance.

I remember my first trip to a wrestling match as an adult, sitting in my chair and wondering if and when and what to photograph. The crowd was at a fever pitch, seemingly waiting for an excuse to tear something apart. Would it be me? Would my camera provoke the crowd's hostility? The wrestlers themselves seemed to be parodies of the human body, in some cases more and in some cases less than human. Some marched around with more muscles than one would think necessary for any human, while others walked with equal confidence in bodies of more untoned mass than is healthy for any human. …

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