When I first heard about Meryl Streep's lovely Golden Globes acceptance speech, it was a dig at Trump for trolling a disabled reporter. Good on her, that shit isn't acceptable. Then, a day or two later, I'm hearing all these angry MMA fans with a bone to pick.
Huh? What? Meryl Streep and MMA in the same sentence is weird enough, so I went to investigate this wild speech that seems to be inflaming more people by the hour. She must've went on some bloodsport, cock-fighting tirade for giving even Dana White, himself, the vapors.
I read the transcript. So can you, right HERE. Go on, I'll wait.
Basically, her speech is a powerful tribute to the tapestry of humans - foreigners, outcasts and diverse people - that make up the arts we love, a call for empathy and a plea to protect ethical journalism. Oh, yeah, and a quick passing line:
"So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts."
Suddenly MMA fans were shitting themselves. "She is just an actress! She doesn't know nothing! She shouldn't have an opinion an anything except acting! What an elitist liberal Hollywood bitch!"
To them I say, Really? Then, get a fucking grip.
Last I checked (and I check pretty often, considering I follow the sport and train BJJ) , MMA is a SPORT. It's not "the Arts." She wasn't wrong, but that wasn't even the remotest point of her speech. Her message is something Americans really need to think about right now, and instead, too many of them are nit-picking about one small reference in a line - a play on words, really - because they are butthurt the sport they enjoy or train in isn't exalted as "art."
(Or they are simply Trump supporters and liberal haters who are feigning indignation, but that is off-topic.)
Mixed Martial Arts is a legitimate sport.
Lone gone are the days of Tank Abbott throwing haymakers around and asinine matchups with no holds barred. Today, fighters are some of the most intense, top athletes in the world. They are expertly trained and cared for, and they are highly skilled in multiple forms of combat sports: wrestling, judo, boxing, muay thai, jiu-jitsu and other martial arts that have been well-established and respected. They are as fairly matched in weight and ability as possible. The UFC is not a bunch of drunk yahoos off the street, swinging for the fences or simply being violent for the sake of violence. There are rules, skill, craft, and intricacy, that the casual observer may not understand. MMA fans are sensitive about the uninformed and the untrained who are so sure otherwise. I get that.
But she didn't say MMA was barbaric, violent, stupid, or any of that. She casually mentioned two sports, one with "Arts" in the title, to make a little point about how little we'd have without Hollywood, which is also often vilified by the uninformed. The Arts is generally taken to mean theater, music, fine art and the like. Please calm down and notice she said THE ARTS, not "art."
But this begs the question that MMA fans have brought up. Is Mixed martial Arts an Art?
No. It's STILL a sport.
Some fighters have a finesse that can definitely be artful. There are pioneers in this sport that create new moves and have a style that can also be considered an art. But is MMA an art? Still, no. Art is creating an evocation of emotion and beauty through media or your own body. Fighters are training specific moves and skill sets to invoke damage on their opponent to win a match. Was Wayne Gretzky artful on the ice? Yes. Is Hockey, therefore, an art? No.
But, get this: That doesn't make it something without meaning. People who train are able to derive transcendence through daily practice. Sport may become a part of their person, saving them from their own demons, becoming a deliverance, a personal ecstasy, or something so finely tuned it is an automatic response. Sport is very important and meaningful. Sport gives us a rush; it inspires us to be great and brave and strong and fast. It gives some kids something to aspire to. It also gives us much-needed entertainment.
Sport is important.
Art is important.
The two truths coexist. It's okay everybody. It's okay.
The most important part of this speech is being tossed aside over silly political shit, and that's the sad part. Suddenly artists and fighters have to choose sides, because everyone has to fit neatly into a Liberal or Conservative profile. Elitist snobs versus blue collar dummies. Well, fuck that and both those stereotypes. Yes, Ms Streep, I hear you, girl. I will honor diverse backgrounds and foreigners and art and ethical journalism. Then later tonight, I'll choke some fool on a mat. Because I am an artist and a fighter. I do both.