WRITING FOR TEENS
Part Two of a Two-Part Series on Teen Trends
A short interview with a fan of WWF's The Rock
First appeared in January 2001 - Issue #5 -
Awe-Struck FLASH - Official Newsletter of Awe-Struck E-Books - A publisher of fine electronic books
Gracie C. McKeever – © 2000
Rather than just write an article on this current phenomenon sweeping through the world of professional wrestling, I decided to do a little something added and went straight to the source to conduct a brief interview with my pre-teen niece on one of her passions of the moment: The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) of WWF fame.
Though neither rich nor famous (not to anyone outside of the family circle already well-aware of her inner beauty and talents, that is ), my niece had some interesting insights to share on the subject of violence as entertainment in general, and the violence in wrestling in particular…insights that only solidified my own ideas about media violence and how it is currently shaping and affecting our culture's youth.
But back to fanaticism… Much as the females of my generation once screamed and swooned over pop and rock icons like The Jacksons, The Osmonds, The Beatles, and Elvis Presley, just to name a few, so too do the teens of today have their icons…N'Sync, The Backstreet Boys, Usher, Boyz II Men, Sisqo…and though I don't necessarily understand the attraction of some of Maureen's and her kin's choices (i.e. Hanson and The Spice Girls), I can relate to their enthusiasm (especially when my own mother reminds me of the occasions I cried upon listening to a pubescent Michael Jackson croon "I'll Be There" for all he was worth …and now I ask you, who wouldn't have cried?).
Now what, you may ask, do pop and rock idols and their music have in common with The Rock and wrestling? Quite simply, in the recent annals of teen idolatry and pop culture, no other sports figure (besides Derek Jeter of the dreamy-eyes) seems to have so effectively blurred the lines between entertainment and sex symbolism to elicit the sort of mania and fan loyalty than has The Rock. His charm is universal, crossing age and gender lines (from my nephews—two, three and fifteen--to my sister--just-under-thirty and finally to my twelve-year-old niece), transcending race and cultural lines.
Not since PT Barnum has a more great show on earth been witnessed than that of a WWF match involving The Rock. Add to all this, a multi-million dollar role in the sequel of one of last summer's biggest hits, The Mummy, a stint last year as "Saturday Night Live" host and a recent spoof on "Mad TV" of his wrestling persona by Will Sasso (two true signs in our culture as having star status) and it is clear to see that The Rock has indeed "arrived". Just what is it about The Rock that makes young adults sit up in their seats and take notice and cheer? Here now, is a YA's perspective on wrestling sensation's The Rock, from one of his legions, Maureen Vickers:
G (Gracie): How long have you been a wrestling fan?
M (Maureen): I have been a wrestling fan for a year and a half. I have been a Rock fan for a year-and-a-half also.
G: What or whom first sparked your interest in The Rock?
M: My aunt, Niny always talked and raved about how fine he was and his antics in and out of the ring.
G: Would you say that The Rock's emergence in the WWF directly coincides with your interest in wrestling?
M: Actually, when I first saw The Rock, I thought he was a complete phony. I didn't think that he would last in the business, but the more I watched him, the more I realized I was wrong about him. He's not phony; he's down to earth and definitely one of the main reasons I'm a wrestling fan.
G: What exactly about The Rock appeals to you as a female? To you as a wrestling fan?
M: Speaking as a female, his muscular body is irresistible. I'm crazy about the People's Eyebrow too. As a wrestling fan, I like his playful attitude and the commanding way he handles the mike when he's promoting an event. I also like his unselfishness when he takes part in a tag team match. He's a good partner because he doesn't hog all the limelight, but shares it with his teammates. He's also a good referee, and showed his skills when he reffed a match for WWF Women's Championship. The Rock is just a great all-around showman, in or out of the ring
G: You recently attended your first live wrestling event (WWF Attitude 2000) this past September at Madison Square Garden with your grandfather, aunt and cousin. Tell us about that experience?
M: It was very exciting seeing him in the flesh. The Rock (and the other wrestlers too) put on a hyped show that made it impossible for the fans not to get involved. Lots of screaming and shouting when The Rock came out to his theme, "The Rock Says", with his WWF Championship Belt pridefully slung over one shoulder.
G: How do you feel about the violence portrayed in wrestling? Do you think it's too real/too much and if so, should it be toned down or do you think that would ruin its entertainment value?
M: First, I know it (the violence) is not real. I don't think of it as good or bad, just a part of the sport. Some of it is cool and some of it can be exaggerated, but it's what the (wrestling) fans want and I don't think they (the officials) should change anything.
G: Do you think there should be a minimum age requirement for WWF event attendees and why?
M: Kids I know, 9 to 12-year-olds like me watch "Smackdown" and "Raw Is War" on TV and I don't see any reason why (kids this age) shouldn't go to a live wrestling event, as long as they're accompanied by an adult guardian and/or have parental guidance.
G: If The Rock were not involved with the sport, would you still enjoy wrestling? Are there wrestlers besides The Rock who excite you and why?
M: I'd still watch wrestling because there are a lot of other famous and exciting wrestlers who put on a good show. I like the Hardy Boyz and their trademark use of ladders and tables against their opponents. Lita is a sexy powerful tomboy who kicks some major butt. All of these wrestlers are fun to watch and make the sport as popular as The Rock does.
G: What are some of your favorite Rock sayings? Your favorite Rock talent and/or move?
M: My fav sayings? "Do you like pie?", "Layeth the Smacketh down" and "If you smelllllllllllll what The Rock is cookin'". My favorite Rock move is The People's Elbow and The People's Eyebrow.
G: What are some of your favorite TV shows and why? Your favorite video games?
M: My favorite TV shows are "Smackdown", "Raw Is War", "Livewire", "Sunday Superstars" and "Sunday Night Heat" because they all deal with WWF. My favorite video game next to Crash is Smackdown and new Smackdown, which I am looking forward to getting this Christmas .
G: I notice you have a beautiful floor-to-ceiling poster of The Rock on your bedroom door. Would it be safe to say that this is a treasured possession?
M (face blushing and eyes glazing over with youthful adoration…I recognize it as the same sort of feelings that swept through me whenever anyone commented on the rather voluminous collection of Tiger Beat and Right On posters that used to cover the walls of my teenage bedroom): Definitely a treasured possession! It was a birthday gift from my Aunt Niny and I kiss it every night before I say my prayers and go to bed.
G: Final thoughts for those that don't know The Rock and have yet to get what all the fuss is about?
M: If you're interested in learning more about The Rock his book, "The Rock Says" says it all. It goes into details about his life before wrestling and is suitable for all ages. It also includes a nice collection of great color photos of The Rock now and as a boy growing up in Hawaii and Miami. I enjoyed (the book) a lot and finished it in a week!
Author Afterthought: In closing I have to say I'm not anymore inclined to sit through two hours of Thursday Night Smack Down yet, but I do come away from this interview with a new awareness and understanding of our youths' fascination with The Rock. He is fearless and electrifying. He is unique and let us not forget he has a great bod. But what seem to be his most outstanding assets to teens, are The Rock's keen sense of fair play and humor, and a of fun-loving spirit that shines through in a sport where violence exists for violence sake. In an arena populated with jaded multi-million dollar "superstars" this makes The Rock one of a rare few gems both kids and adults can admire: a role model. And in this day and age of racial profiling, domestic turmoil, foreign tyranny and political instability, what kid wouldn't flock to and idolize something as steady as The Rock?