The study of the relationship between images and what they signify is called semiotics.
But what must be firmly established at the start is that myth is a system of communication, that it is a message.
Semiology is the study of signs, and myth, for Barthes, is the study of speech. Semiology and myth go hand in hand. Myth explains representation of speech, the object (wrestler) and the meaning (connotation). Therefore, myth is not defined as an object or by its material, but as a meaning. Myth takes meaning and turns it into a form that reinforces the dominant values in society. Barthes says that Myth is a kind of form, it has significance in society.
Myth as material/object:
Ali is old, he is very strong,
Tyson is young, has tattoos,
Ali = an inspiration, someone to look up to.
Tyson = intimidating
Myths naturalize things in society. They reinforce the dominant values of culture. In wrestling, audiences enjoy watching an honourable wrestler (i.e. can resemble a police officer because cops are the good guys) triumph over the villain, or the wrestler that cheated. Basically audiences enjoy watching “the good guys win” because it resembles the dominant ideology—criminals go to jail, good guys take them down.
Wrestling has two kinds of meaning. The first meaning is the bare meaning, just the fight. The second meaning is the thrill of the fight, the spectacle of seeing Ali fight. The audience knows what to expect in wrestling (the bare meaning, as in the fight), but enjoys the values that are fighting each other (since everyone loves Ali, they cheer for the inspiration that he is and want him to beat the other guy who isn’t as inspirational)
Professional wrestling carries two messages, “wrestling as sport” and “wrestling as spectacle”(Thody, P., 1997).
Category: Communications Theories