From Chuck Klosterman's 2001 Fargo Rock City:
The connection between wrestling and metal is pretty obvious. They're both redneck obsessions dripping with wry humor. Pro wrestling particularly appeals to wife-beating trailer park residents, drunk college sophomores, and acerbic cultural pundits; that's pretty much the same audience for Motley Crue in 1999. Wrestling is not stupid -- it only tries to look that way. And the same can probably be said for Ted Nugent. The danger is that the people who love wrestling (and metal) the most don't want to see the joke. And it's not that they're fools who don't "get it." They get it completely. They just prefer to consume the satire as reality.
Self-righteous TV critics used to criticize All in the Family because they feared the audience would be confused by Archie Bunker's prejudices. What these critics were too stupid to realize is that people who related to Carroll O'Connor's character knew he was a bigot and they knew he was supposed to be a negative image. That's why they liked him.
In the same way, there are people who watch wrestling because it's considered trashy and idiotic. Elitists go to operas they don't understand because it makes them feel separate from the rest of society; blue-collar drunks watch pro wrestling for the exact same reason. Artists like Nugent foster that kind of anti-intellectual perspective. What probably started as a gimmick (at least from the perspective of the record companies) has evolved into a very real, somewhat scary philosophy.
People rail against the posturing of metal, but the real problems begin when the posturing ends. That's when an artistic image becomes an actual personality type. That's when people start to see aggressive music as a call to actual aggression, and the enemy becomes anyone who doesn't openly embrace stupidity. And (to paraphrase sports radio host Jim Rome), that's when you hear the six most dangerous words in North America: "You think you're better than me?" Whenever that phrase is uttered in a small-town bar, somebody is going to lose teeth.
Some things are funny because they're true. Ted Nugent would be funnier if I ever got the sense he was lying.
Tags: Klosterman, Fargo Rock City