Note for Teachers: Please preview the film to make sure it is appropriate for your students. It includes some vulgar language.
" The Aria of Babyface Cauliflower Brown " is a five-minute film that touches on themes of sports and storytelling. In this Op-Doc video from 2017, the pro wrestler Cauliflower Chase Brown passionately explains why we should shift how we see his sport. Rather than debating whether it's real or fake, Chase urges us to view it for its drama and artistry: "It's not a fake sport. It's a real story that we're telling … It's a story about getting the redemption that we feel we deserve."
Are you a fan of pro wrestling? Does the video change how you view the sport? Do you think we should see it as an artful story?
1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.
2. After watching, think about these questions:
What moments in this film stood out for you? Why?
Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you know — or thought you knew?
What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?
What questions do you still have?
What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you've read or seen? If so, how and why?
3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: Is pro wrestling a form of art?
4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)
5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the "Reply" button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.
6. To learn more, read " Skip the Opera. Go See Some Pro Wrestling. " Tim Grant, the filmmaker, writes:
I was first exposed to wrestling by my dad, whose favorite wrestler was Dusty Rhodes. When I was growing up, he'd surprise-attack me, hollering, "I'm the American Dream," then lift my 7-year-old body into the air, slam me on the couch and go for the pin. I'd escape after the second count and triumphantly rebound to victory, leaving my dad defeated on our green living room carpet as I paraded around the house with my hands in the air.
Fast-forward a few years: My cousins persuaded their mom to let us record our wrestling matches with her Sony Handycam. It was the first video camera I ever used. We had entrance music, costumes and special moves. A few years later, in my early teens, I'd stay up half the night with friends playing WCW vs. nWo: World Tour for Nintendo 64. I always selected my favorite wrestler, Macho Man Randy Savage. By this time I was becoming aware of professional wrestling's being "fake." But Macho Man said every word with such conviction, with a thought process that sounded nearly insane. I wondered: So if wrestling is fake, does Macho Man know?
Things began to change when my family relocated from extremely rural northern Georgia to slightly less rural western North Carolina. My world got bigger. I started listening to more than just Christian music and watching movies outside my family's approved watch-list and my grandfather's westerns. I was drifting away from wrestling. Then I saw Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and became an evangelist for the film, offering my critical review to anyone who would listen: "You have to see it. It has everything. Drama. Romance. Revenge. Good versus evil." Film became my defining interest by my late teens; if you were going to know anything about me, I wanted it to be that I was into films. I had grown out of wrestling, and I was proud of myself for having the maturity to do so. Wrestling was fake and crude, while legitimate cinema was subtle and poetic. I still loved Randy Savage, but in the way you love a childhood friend you don't really relate to anymore.
But in the first few minutes after meeting the wrestler Cauliflower Chase Brown, when we happened to share a table with our significant others at a poorly attended dinner party, I realized how wrong I had been about wrestling. "It's storytelling," Chase told me. "There's more to it than people realize." He drew comparisons to classical Greek theater, Shakespeare and, most notably, philosophy, his area of study at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. He talked about concepts of truth and the factors that make a character good or evil. The role of catharsis and how to understand a crowd. How wrestling, at its best, is the closest form of theater to jazz. I felt appropriately called out for my judgments of wrestling over the years, understanding that I had reserved the power of story to acclaimed films and other "higher forms" of art as approved by cultural authorities. I had become a snob.
Want more student-friendly videos? Visit our Film Club column .
Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.
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