The Narrative of right-wing media: It’s wrestling, basically

Professional wrestling is professional, but it’s only “wrestling” in the sense that it mimes wrestling. Wrestling, as you would define it as a scholastic or Olympic sport, makes for poor television. (With exceptions for stories like Anthony Robles, the one-legged wrestler. That was fuckin’ awesome.) Bob Costas does an admirable job trying to make the average viewer care about the “Narrative” (capital N intended), but rarely do we remember it years later.

In professional wrestling, the outcomes are predetermined, the characters are meant to convey awe, it’s extremely physically demanding, and the injuries are often real. With all that said, people following professional wrestling are there for one reason: The Narrative.

In typical journalism, let’s say it’s something like an NPR reporter covering a story about a shady coal company covering up lung disease; the story is about a specific event, and the goal of the story is to be objective about how events unfolded. There may be a conclusion, but the goal of the journalist is isolated. It’s about one specific event, or set of events, about one selected person, or group of people.

Fox News, and the entire apparatus of right-wing media is based upon The Narrative: “We must fight against the Democrats, Liberals, and (recently) Socialists.” There are various subplots to The Narrative, and like any compelling Netflix series, the characters need depth and meaning. The point is to make them almost entirely one-dimensional. These perfunctory people come in all flavors: Pure evil (Sean Hannity), replaceable (Megyn Kelly), senile (Lou Dobbs), poisonous (Rush Limbaugh), drunk (Judge Jeanine), remonstrative (Charlie Kirk), and pseudo-intellectual (Ben Shapiro).

(Side note: I especially enjoy the Ben Shapiro/Candace Owens brand of advancing The Narrative, because it mostly just involves talking quickly and using big words.)

When characters are no longer relevant to The Narrative, or have pushed the plot too far towards the edge, they’re killed off. (See: Shep Smith, Trish Regan, etc.) If new characters are needed, they are typically summoned from the fringe, which is how people like Tomi Lahren and Kayleigh Mcenany move in and out of the plot via osmosis.

In wrestling, there is a term for the villain: The Heel.

It’s unfortunate that many journalists and liberal figures don’t understand how this process works, because they allow themselves to be portrayed as The Heel. Becoming The Heel sometimes is unintentional, as Roman Reigns recently discovered while the WWE tried to integrate him into The Narrative. Sometimes, being “the good guy” can result in the audience turning against you, because The Narrative is opposed to your character arc. Lt. Col Vindman is a decorated member of the military, and this would typically warranty immunity from The Narrative casting him as The Heel — however, in doing the right thing, he was forced to vocally oppose The Narrative, which resulted in a group that typically aligns itself with the military and veterans being forced to smear him.

In a series of tweets yesterday, I detailed Diamond & Silk, lesser-known cast-members in the pantheon of right-wing talent. Their shtick typically doesn’t catch on, mostly because their character acting is overwrought and hokey.

My issue with Diamond & Silk isn’t unique, as they are hardly the first right-wing characters to push fringe conspiracy theories into The Narrative. (Even the big faces like Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, and others do it.) I expect the whole production to be a lie, because that’s the point of right-wing cosplay journalism. Their sense of theater is all wrong. They’re too sassy, and went too far into the realm of minstrel show. The “sassy black woman with her friend beside her acting as hypewoman” routine is too much, and lacks production value. It’s an obvious, lazy cash-grab.

Basically, to quote a white man, playing a black man, talking to a white man, who played a mentally challenged man… “You never go full retard.”

Professional wrestling has a rich history of playing up “black duos for the sake of blackness” from The Harlem Heat, Soul Patrol, The Gangstas, The Prime Time Players, and more. I just expected right-wing media to be better than obtuse black caricatures, because their production value is typically so much higher. Diamond & Silk are the C-level backyard wrestlers who have seemingly been thrust into the spotlight, simply because right-wing media lacked enough black talent.

At least Candace Owens has the dignity not to portray herself as some kind of cornbread-munching Aunt Jemima stereotype. What Diamond & Silk do has the panache of a porch servant, with all the implied “yes suh, massa” nonsense that goes along with being subservient to their white overlords. They basically just show up to play along with racists like Steve King, Donald Trump, Paul Nehlen, and others. By injecting Diamond & Silk into The Narrative, even as fringe characters, viewers get a skewed view of the black community, especially the hard working black mothers of America, because instead of getting honesty, they’re getting a rote caricature of the reformed sassy mammy.

What I’m trying to say is this: I expected more character development and production value. If the right-wing media wants to pick some token black people to pretend their alabaster cast is diverse, they owe it to us, the viewers, to at least make seem like they’re trying. I’m not mad at Diamond & Silk. They didn’t choose to be retweeted by President Trump. They didn’t choose to be taken to the State of the Union Address by Steve King. These were all choices that were out of their hands.

If the creators of The Wire managed to find two dozen struggling black actors in Los Angeles, I know Fox News can do the same.