On "Mythologies: The World of Wrestling" by Roland Barthes
—Barthes, Mythologies series studies not the classical mythology but the living myth of the present, interpreted through semiotics. In this article he studied the semiotics of Parisian Wrestling, referring to it as
“a sport, it is a spectacle” (Barthes, 1994)
Barthes sees this form of wrestling as theatrical themes enacted through the frame work of a sport. In his article he notes the key themes of this drama; Suffering; Defeat; and Justice, these themes are acted by the wrestlers. He begins to define the characters of wrestlers and placing them into archetypes, which are as visual signs for the audience to react to his main example being the “salaud”,
“the classical concept of the salaud, the 'bastard' (the key-concept of any wrestling-match), appears as organically. repugnant. The nausea voluntarily provoked, by Thauvin shows therefore a very extended use of signs: not only is ugliness used here in order to signify baseness, but in addition ugliness is wholly gathered into a particularly repulsive quality of matter”(Barthes, 1994)
Barthes states that in the presentation of the archetypical characters the audience expect certain characteristics and actions. From the salaud they expect treachery, cruelty and cowardice, the salaud is the tyrannical villain of the drama who incites violence with the hero, and thusly makes the violence done by the hero on to himself justified. The characters in this drama are static in that they are unchangeable and unredeemable, the salaud will always be the salaud, in this the base motivation for his actions are predicable.
—He observed that the wrestlers also communicate primarily though gestures while on stage as,
“Wrestling is like a diacritic writing: above the fundamental meaning of his body, the wrestler arranges comments which are episodic but always. opportune, and constantly help the reading of the fight by means of gestures, attitudes and mimicry which make the intention utterly obvious” (Barthes, 1994)
They broadcast the sign in the clearest means they can, they exaggerate they’re expressions and actions, with no nuance. Even though they are obviously exaggerated as Barthes says,
“What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.” (Barthes, 1994)
The public is somewhat aware that they don't want to see a fight were people are hurt but see the story of a fight with the illusion of suffering on the part of the combatants.
Barthes, R., 1994. The World of Wrestling. In: Mythologies. pp. 15-25.
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Design In Context
Daniel Thomas Coates, graphic designer based in the UK. Currently a student at the University of Cumbria, Carlisle.