We touched on many of the aspects of American Gladiators, a revived pro wresting type tv program, on Tuesday: the over exaggerated characters, the gender roles of the "average joe" contestants, the appeal to women viewers through emotional vignettes, how the show delivers to viewers what they want to see. It shows a theatrical good vs. evil battle. The Gladiators take on stereotypical roles of the deviant, the hero, the savage and so on.
I was watching the new episode last night, as I do usually on Tuesday nights, and trying to find something to write about that we hadn't exactly touched on in class. The most enjoyable part of this show to me, is how completely ridiculous the characters portrayed by the gladiators are. Titan: the Greek god, Militia: the ex military combatant, Wolf: the rebel animal worrier, etc. We see these charactors not only through their statements and actions, but most of all in the way they are dressed and the way they look: Titan is blond, tan, and strikes a heroic, hands on his hips pose. Militia is clean cut and always presented saluting. Wolf has unkempt hair and a beard, somewhat pointy teeth and is universally shown howling like a madman.
What I find to be interesting, is that the male gladiators have stronger personalities that the females. The only one that has a stereotype that is visually identifying is Hellga, the Viking. The female gladiators are defiantly bigger than normal women, and dressed in various spandex outfits, but without reading their bios, the viewer has no insight into the persona of each female gladiator. They are almost interchangeable when compared to the diverse personalities of the male gladiators. There are no traditional female personas in professional wrestling, or in traditional stories either. The male characters embody roles of fairy tales; there is not many diverse female characters besides the evil witch or sorceress and the damsel in distress. The idea of a muscled, overly competitive, worrier woman is not a traditional model in our society, so even if these female gladiators are trying to put forth a personality, it is not obvious in the audience's minds. They have no preconceived notion of a character to place upon a female in the roles they are taking in American Gladiators.