Author

Bryce McNeil

Date of Award

8-2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Sandra Berkowitz

Second Committee Member

Nathan E. Stormer

Third Committee Member

Shannon Martin

Abstract

Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, is a unique corporate leader. He is also a performer for his entertainment company and the WWE possesses a unique connection with its audience. The WWE and professional wrestling are influential elements of popular culture. The study of corporate image management has been the focus of many organizational communication studies. One specific genre of rhetorical criticism in this area is image restoration studies. This genre concerns itself with how corporate leaders handle themselves in situations that challenge their company's reputation. Image restoration studies have been limited to their own genre and have rarely incorporated other forms of rhetorical analysis. Thus there is a gap in literature in terms of assessing image restoration as a reflection of cultural values. McMahon provides an example to perform such a study as he is not only a corporate leader but at the center of a future in North American popular culture. This study suggests that Benoit's (1997) five image restoration typologies- denial, evasion of responsibility, reducing offensiveness, corrective action and mortification- can be narrowed down to two categories. These categories are action justification and remorse. Drawing upon media and myth analysis, this study proposes that McMahon's use of action justification strategies is reflective of a masculine value system in North American society. Therefore the author proposes further study utilizing the two categories of typologies for the purposes of indicating the model's value. The study also suggests that McMahon presents a unique case for further research because of his dual role as a corporate leader and performer.

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