I’d like to think of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler as a kind of grand metaphor for America, a bankrupt and exhausted old culture, coasting to the finish line on the fumes of former glories, unable or unwilling to reinvent itself despite every signal telling it to change. In one, of several, heartbreaking scenes Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” takes his estranged daughter to the abandoned and derelict amusements of Asbury Park where he hopes to rekindle memories of happier times but the moment of grace is short-lived. Of course, it may just be a film about a wrestler, I’ll give you that.
The Ram was a big star in the 80s when MTV and pro-wrestling collided, but now he lives in a trailer and wrestles in school halls. And wrestling, too, has changed. It’s still showbusiness but now it’s degrading and dehumanising, the public baying for even more blood and demanding ever greater sacrifices.