Three Cheers (for the Heel)
Today I talk wrestling.
(I'm not claiming to be right, as always the interpretation of professional wrestling is down to the viewer, so if your views differ to mine - that's ok!)
One of the early wrestling psychology basics that I was taught was about the dynamics of Face Vs. Heel. Or in non wrestling terms - the Good Guy Vs. the Bad Guy.
In wrestling, the face is the hero of the story, and the heel is the protagonist who provides hurdles that the face has to overcome. Generally speaking, the face is the better wrestler and when the heel realizes this they turn to cheating (or bending the rules) to gain leverage.
So why then, have crowds begun to cheer for the bad guy?
If you try google searching this topic, you'll probably find yourself just as confused as I am right now. Are the faces lacking in charisma? Are the heels just bad at their jobs? Are fans just really into seeing the Ref getting kicked in the balls?
When I developed my character "The Princess of Ponsonby" I wrote a list of things that people constantly criticize millennials for, everything from coddled entitlement to Instagram fitness models, and tried to incorporate all of those things into the Princess.
Her number one concern is her looks, and her secondary concern is making sure 'the commoners' are put in their place, preferably without her lifting a finger. I strut to the ring with a royal wave, ignoring the crowd, harassing the Ref to pander to my every whim - including holding the ropes apart as I enter the ring and helping me remove my coat, and I treat every person I encounter as if they are below me. I throw tantrums, I attack people from behind, I assault match officials.
So why do I get cheered when I embody everything that people hate?
Is it edgy now, to be anti-establishment as a fan? Or do people actually find a quality in me that they actually enjoy or relate to?
The second one I find hard to believe, because by my standards, my own wrestling is rubbish. I've only once had a match which I watched back and thought to myself "Hey, that wasn't actually too bad." It was my 29th match facing Britenay in a town hall in Porirua (this crowd booed the hell out of me,) before I finally felt like I was doing a good job.
I often hear male wrestlers say that us women have it easier, as there's less of us to contend with for a spot on the card and our audiences are majority male so we 'get over' quicker. If this is true, I find this to be a hindrance rather than an advantage. I don't want to be cheered. And I certainly don't want to be cheered for my looks rather than for the merit of my wrestling ability!
There's no concise answer to these questions, because people cheer for so many reasons. As I've said before, Paige will always be a favorite for me whether she plays the part of the 'Bad Guy' or the 'Good Guy'.
Do you cheer for a heel? Why do you do it? I'd love to hear your thoughts - so comment away below.