Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Past is Prologue: Total Divas Season 2, Episode 8 -- Summer Rae Vs. The World

Summer Rae is the tragic figure of Total Divas
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Hello! Sorry again that I didn't do any recaps the past couple of weeks on the reality duality of Total Divas and Legends House. And sorry that I'm just going to avoid recapping Legends House from now on because it more or less doesn't really appeal to me after the episodes I've seen. I don't think that will be much of a problem, but you gotta be nice to the fine folks who like the regularity of columns about this fun stuff we like, complain, and then ultimately realize we love. So that's fun.
In my time off, I took a look at what a lot of other people I respect say about the show, chief among them the minds of Kayfabe Comedy. Their Total Divas power rankings were just as fun this time last year, but ultimately it's kind of fallen by the wayside. I kind of want to say it's because the show just became too unlikable to properly gauge how I feel about certain characters, but that's not completely true. Nah, the change was more of a weird human fallacy that I realized I was carrying into a show that doesn't really care about anything other than broad drama. I became more than sympathetic towards Summer Rae. I almost felt like that me and Summer Rae were living out the exact struggle in life. Well, okay, as much as a 24-year-old overweight heterosexual male can relate to a 29-year-old tan model heterosexual female athlete and with all the privilege therein in that dichotomy. But dammit, aren't we the secret outcasts? I like what Adam of Kayfabe Comedy had to say on this. Please read his piece, which is better at saying this than what I can tell you, but here's my takeaway quote from him:
Regardless, I have to feel for Summer Rae, even though she is the most TV character of TV characters.  On Total Divas she is portrayed as being manipulative and possibly a succubus, even though at the most she is na├»ve.  Taking the narrative of the show into consideration, maybe it was dumb to show up unannounced to Nattie Neidhart’s house and to accuse her of being super jelly.  But let’s remember the information we’re given about Summer Rae on this show:  she’s never slept with a WWE coworker despite rumors being spread about her to the contrary, she has not been intimate with anyone in over a year, and she is being accused for being cheap or slutty because she wears the same type of outfits that every other woman on the WWE roster does.  So she snapped and slapped Nattie in the face.  Her passion was so bottled up that it came out in that fashion.
Summer Rae this week has a curious story as a part of her pairing with Eva Marie. Basically, Summer and Eva are pitched to be "a tag team," which sounds like a strange staged request but whatever. Summer wants to train and make sure there is chemistry in the ring between her and Eva because the main goal is to not screw up. Eva Marie, though, more or less screws up. This is a narrative everyone already knows in that Summer Rae became one of the more well-liked women's wrestlers in the company and Eva Marie has become the running joke. Of course when this is acknowledged by Summer, people say it hurts Eva's feelings when she suddenly realizes what the situation is.

Now, part of this narrative is of the fact that as the above tweet implies, Summer didn't find the best way to do it. She mainly passively insisted Tamina Snuka be added to the team to give something watchable to the match. But when all of this occurred and of course we are told that everyone else on the show can't stand Summer for this yet again, I again found myself realizing Summer Rae is someone I sympathize with because her flaws make absolute sense in a workplace environment. There is a toxicity to telling someone that they are awful at their job to their face no matter the reality. I wish it wasn't this way, but you kind of have to maneuver out of a bad situation. Work is paranoia. You wonder if the fact that you do the same job while others do different jobs has anything to do with your own talent. I'm rambling here, but what I'm saying is that I get it.

Since her arrival, we've been told Summer Rae is an awful person. But in reality, she is a fallible person. Shit, isn't that what we all are in many ways? I don't remember the last time I've handled a situation in the correct manner, but it's not based on malice. Most humans don't base their points of view or actions on malice. They base them on judgment calls, a lot of which can easily blow up in their faces. And on Total Divas, the only person seemingly making any of these sorts of calls in a manner that doesn't suggest the boring passivity of the other six is Summer Rae. She is not the power of Total Divas, but she is definitely the main generator of action. She is the human voice inside this weird reality hell where slut-shaming is okay and we are following wrestling marriages to an absurdly barren degree.  Maybe that's why I'm willing to be like "I mean, what the hell do you do in that situation?" during everything that comes up.

Summer Rae is a human inside a TV character who feels human inside a show about "divas," whatever the fuck that means.