Wrestling with Grief: Fan Negotiation of Professional/Private Personas in Response to the Chris Benoit Double Murder-Suicide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 2007, professional wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and young son before killing himself. The shocking incident was made even more significant due to Benoit’s then employment with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the world’s predominant professional wrestling organisation. As a result, WWE ordered a complete censorship of Benoit across its media output, guiding fans to forget him with prejudice. This article presents an examination of how fans contended with the images of Benoit presented to them at the time of the incident – and how this compares with their feelings about him today. With no overriding directive for remembrance, fans have had to negotiate their own memorialisation narratives, which can become contentious among fan communities when individuals attempt to revisit Benoit’s professional output. Through qualitative data conducted via an online survey, this article presents an insight into how relations to professional and private celebrity personas have an impact on contemporary fandom. While the article will not attempt to draw conclusions as to whether Benoit was a ‘monster’ or simply very ill, it will present an image of how fans have had to contend with such images in the formation of their bereavement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-84
Number of pages16
JournalCelebrity Studies
Volume6
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2015

Keywords

  • fandom
  • professional wrestling
  • Chris Benoit
  • introjection
  • celebrity personas
  • memorialisation
  • scandal

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