Dean re-voicing pro wrestlers

From: Eugene Matusov (
Date: Sun Jan 25 2004 - 19:44:49 PST

Dear Judy, Bill, Nate, and everybody-


I wholeheartedly agree with Judy. Although the Political Compass website is
fun (thanks, Nate), it should not be taken very seriously. Attempts to
quantify human life have limited success. It is not accurate to project
complex political ideologies into two-dimensional political schemas.
Especially, it is not easy to do the projection for politicians who did not
even take the survey. I took the survey and found that many decontextualized
questions do not make sense for me but I was forced to reply "agree" or
"disagree". Besides my "agree" may have a very different meaning with
another person's "agree" (I just watched the classic movie "Twelve angry
men" that illustrates this point nicely). I also agree with Judy about her
judgment of Dean vs. Kerry and about Donald Duck (with some limitation, of
course :-)


As to Dean's non-working class upbringing pointed by Bill (although Dean was
a wrestling team captain in school see photo below), I do not think it is
very important for my point. My point was that Dean might (or might not) use
a certain working class male voice of a warrior (well developed in the WWE -
"World Wrestling Entertainment") in his speech to cheer up his followers
after the apparent defeat in the Iowa caucus. His yeargh scream was
perceived as highly inappropriate, almost hysterical, by media (at least by
NPR media that I listen to), but I wonder how it was taken in by the WWE
fans and Dean's immediate audience. The issues for me are: 1) was it a
re-voicing or just similarity (I'd love to ask Dean about that), 2) if so,
was conscious (planned and controlled) or unconscious (unplanned and
uncontrolled) re-voicing, 3) was it effective with his immediate audience at
the moment or was it misdirected from the beginning? I also wonder whether
and how WWE reacted to Dean's yeargh scream (as a parody, as a quote, as a
pathetic imitation, as a noble affiliation). I think Mead's reminder that
meaning emerges in a reaction is quite handy here. It also bring an issue of
author's re-voicing when an author uses a certain voice of others and
listener's re-voicing when a listener hear a voice of others in the author's
voice who actually did not do re-voicing (the author's and other's voices
are similar and nothing more).


One of the reasons of why I do not like the notion of "identity" is exactly
because it (in some versions) implies that a person has to be true to his or
her "roots". Meanwhile, I think that people often "creolized" their voices
and behaviors. Cultural "rootness" is exception rather than a norm. If my
suspicion about Dean's re-voicing of the WWE yeargh in his Iowa speech is
correct, it is a nice illustration of such creolization.


What do you think?



PS I put in Google search +Howard +Dean +wrestling and found some
interesting pages recognizing the re-voicing I was talking about:


" The experts are divided. "Man, it was a little too close to a wrestling
speech for my taste," said Smithtown's Mick Foley, a best-selling author,
pro wrestler and former commissioner of the (yes) World Wrestling Federation
(as WWE was previously known). "If he had leveled with the people, saying,
'I am disappointed [and] things are going to be tough down the home stretch
... ' Instead, we got a full-fledged WWE wrestling promo and that's not what
I'm looking for in my president."


He added that "it appeared to me like he was a guy who had lost his mind,
and I don't know if 'president' and 'maniacal' are supposed to be words that
go hand in hand."


Motivational experts, however, disagreed. "I thought his approach last night
was very appropriate in the context," said Jeff Keller, a motivational
speaker based in Oyster Bay and author of "Attitude is Everything." "Here's
a guy who suffered a crushing defeat and he has a base of support that's
largely young people and young people respond to energy."


Seattle-based motivational expert Chris Widener, explains that Dean's
passion on Monday night could cut two ways: "If you position him as a more
regal type it wouldn't fly anyway [because] he's the firebrand. You want him
to come out and get fired up. He's the one railing against the
establishment." George W. Bush, he adds, "would never have yelled like that
because people would have thought he was off his rocker." But "the downside
of screaming," says Widener, "is that it gets down to: The guy with the
nuclear football is given to emotional tirades. We want him to be
even-tempered and regal.""


" Howard Dean may have a shot at a pro wrestling career if his bid for the
White House doesn't pan out."


" All morning on the local talk station here in D.C., Fred Grandy has been
alternating that Dean clip with recordings of Hulk Hogan screaming into the
microphone in wrestling interviews. It really does sound like Dean's been
studying pro wrestlers' interview technique to develop his public speaking
skills. Could Jesse Ventura be his secret mentor?

Posted by: Combustible Boy at January 20, 2004 at 09:11 PM


Maybe Dean is aiming for the Wrestling loving demographic?

Posted by: madne0 at January 20, 2004 at 10:30 PM"


IMG: Dean's wrestling team

Courtesy St. George's School; photo by D.S. Holloway / Apix for Newsweek

The grappler: Dean's wrestling team photo from St. George's School



> -----Original Message-----

> From: Judy Diamondstone []

> Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2004 8:44 PM

> To:

> Subject: RE: re internet and politics


> I can sympathize with those who are looking for 'the great liberal hope'

> feel disappointed with Dean, but I can't accept the relative ranking on

> "political compass' website. Dean attracted a lot of independent voters,

> because he came off as less ideological & more pragmatic than the others.

> for Kerry's status as 'most liberal' of the lot, here's a video I received

> (from a Dean supporter):




> I would vote for Donald Duck if he were the only one opposing george w. -

> but how many others would join me?


> Judy


> > -----Original Message-----

> > From: N*** [mailto:vygotsky who-is-at]

> > Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2004 6:49 PM

> > To:

> > Subject: Re: re internet and politics

> >

> >

> > All he needed to do was tear off his shirt and start kicking someone in

> > the face.

> >

> > Funny thing is "working class" is not what comes to my mind with Dean.

> > Very few core supporters tend to be "working class" or minorities for

> > that matter.

> >

> > I find it kind of ironic that he is held out as the "great liberal hope"

> > since his views are quite right of center. Political Compass

> > has

> > an interesting graph highlighting where the Dems are politically.

> > Sadly, most are bunched right near Bush.

> >

> >

> > Eugene Matusov wrote:

> >

> > > Dear everybody-

> > >

> > > Dean's infamous yeargh speech after his somewhat poor

> > performance in Iowa

> > > reminded me wrestling. Thanks to my son, I had to watch wrestling for

> > > several years. Maybe because of this experience, I was not

> > alienated by his

> > > macho yeargh. He sounded like a wrestler, like Rick Flair (for those

> > > knows him). I wonder if people who watch wrestling have similar

> > feelings...

> > > Dean's yeargh, like wrestling, has gender and class flavor (back to

> > > discussion of emotions)... It is very working class male yeargh...

> > >

> > > What do you think?

> > >

> > > Eugene

> > > PS Several years ago my son designed a website for kids from

> > Latin American

> > > Center where I work. The site has been inactive for long time

> > by now but you

> > > may find a spirit of wrestling it captures...

> > >

> > >

> > >

> > >>-----Original Message-----

> > >>From: Bill Barowy []

> > >>Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2004 9:46 PM

> > >>To:

> > >>Subject: Re: re internet and politics

> > >>

> > >>On Saturday 24 January 2004 9:18 pm, N*** wrote:

> > >>

> > >>>exactly like it, I think I might settle on calling it "yeargh".

> > >>

> > >>I thought it was my New England ear, but after listening carefully, I

> > >

> > > think

> > >

> > >>your spelling is better. I don't see the mp3 collection as a new

> > >

> > > phenomenon

> > >

> > >>-- creative mixes go back even further than the birth of techno, and

> > >

> > > the

> > >

> > >>hosting website proclaims, the mixes don't necessarily diss, but show

> > >>understanding of the personality as human. It's an

> > enlightening website.

> > >>Thanks to David!

> > >>

> > >>

> > >

> > >

> > >

> > >

> >

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