The Return Of The Cave Man

Whenever people talk with fear about radical Islam in the Middle East they speak about how it is a fringe element of the faith that wants to bring modern society back to the 9th century.  We fear this because it comes with repression of women, suicide bombs, etc.  But the more I look at American pop culture it seems we are hell bent on doing the same, but with our own American style.

The fastest growing sport in America is Mixed Martial Arts. I know defenders of this sport will call  the guys great athletes, but that doesn’t cover up the fact that it is basically just brawling for the enjoyment of a mob.    It reminds me of the scene in Gladiator when Derek Jacobi’s character is discussing how Rome is the mob and Caesar will be applauded by the mob for giving them bloody games.  Well, I guess we’ve come full circle.  Watching highlights of these MMA events convinces me that we are less than a century away form Gladiators coming back.

Twenty years ago, prescient film pioneer Jean Claude-Van Damme did a movie called Lionheart about underground fighting clubs for big money.  20 years later the clubs are out in the open and cleaning up on pay-per-view.   Are we 20 years from the number of movies that showcase races or fights to the death (usually involving prisoners) becoming reality?

Frenemy, ginormous and staycation are now in the dictionary, so this is not just a testosterone fueled movement.  Idiots of all classes, races and genders seem to growing exponentially and continue to win.  The movie Idiocracy, by Mike Judge, shows, through two accidental time travelers over the next 500 years, society getting dumber and dumber to the point that a porn star is elected US President, popular shows on television simply involve people getting hit in the nuts and people can barely speak properly.  Judge may have overshot with 500 years.

Twitter has shown us the way to communicate with each other in short bursts.  So in 50 years perhaps we will simply communicate with emoticons or high-tech equivalents of grunts, believing technology automatically means better, but not realizing social skills have eroded to the point that we are more at ease instant messaging each other than actually communicating in person.

Last year I thought there was hope when The Dark Knight elevated a traditionally mindless genre, the action/comic movie to something artistic and elegant.  But this year’s #1 movie is Transformers 2 which appeals to the basic attraction to visual and aural stimuli with base humor and nothing else.   So after a year that gave us Obama and The Dark Knight (my two favorite things from 2008) it appears that tales of the idiot’s demise were greatly exaggerated.  Time to go tweet.

  • Cordelia

    I think you are right that the current interest in mixed martial arts is motivated by the same instinctive thrill in violence that inspired Roman emperors to sponsor bouts of fighting between gladiators in ancient Rome. But as Tacitus said, “Deos fortioribus adesse.” (The gods are on the side of the stronger.) It is human nature.

    I was looking at your schedule, J.L., and I am so heartened that you have a lot of gigs lined up over the next couple of months. I am so proud of you and I want to laud your efforts in sticking with the standup comedy. I know you have been frustrated by it at times.

    I also hope that you plan to edit your act so it is appropriate for audiences in Alabama. Maybe eliminate references to how dumb Bush was, etc.

  • Nelson Rushton

    The least you could do before making such a claim is to look up the death and injury rates for MMA compared with other sports. In the absence of that data, this claim is not to be taken seriously.

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