Just a few thoughts to jot down:
This week we went to a WWE Raw taping. One of the odd things about seeing wrestling live is that, aside from crowd noise, the matches are pretty quiet. You realize what a big difference the announce team makes in the home viewing experience. It’s also hard to keep your eyes on the live match and not watch the even bigger jumbotron at the top of the ramp. It’s kind of fascinating how a screen, at any size, can distract you from what is right in front of your eyes.
It occurred to me that part of the fun of watching wrestling, for me, is keeping up with the second screen experience of the fandom. Now, I’m not a huge advocate of second screen apps for most scripted shows, especially WHILE watching, because it’s too distracting and feels “tacked on.” I think second screen works better with reality TV as a simultaneous community experience because the details and mise en scene are not as important.
WWE, however, is made for these kinds of interactions and no one in the academic world seems to be taking notice. If it’s not about Breaking Bad, or another “elite” series, it’s not worth our time. Assuming the producers of RAW are actually collecting and acting on the data they receive from fan interactions, this is an example of a television program that is actually interactive in real time. For example, the match I linked to was “booked” by the audience voting through a WWE app. (Side note: the app crashed at some point, of course.)
I also noticed that I missed following along with online fan discussions as the show progressed. Even though I was “there,” I found myself checking my phone multiple times to “see what everyone else was saying.” Maybe it was because I was sitting among a group of people cheering for my least favorite wrestlers, and I just wanted to get a sort of reality check that the smart fans were “with me.” It was like sitting with fans from the opposing team. Online, you can distance yourself from the people who disagree with you. In person, you start to realize that grown men really do love John Cena.