2.8
August 31, 2011

Punch First, Ask Questions Later.

Modern Gladiator, Human Cockfighting, Emotional Instability?

Ultimate fighting, cage fighting, mixed martial arts, whatever you call it, is brutal and its most prominent feature is what seems to be America’ s entertainment drug of choice: violence.

For those of you who don’t know much about it, ultimate fighting is a one-on-one full contact combat sport from a mix of traditional and non-traditional fighting techniques. Opponents are put into a ring or a ‘cage’ and fight until one of them either gets knocked out, submits or time runs out.

No blood lusting audience, no sport? According to Wikipedia, the first season of the reality show Ultimate Fighter drew millions of viewers. And well, sure, if you don’t like it, you simply don’t watch it, but isn’t there something that feels pretty scary knowing that our species of millions enjoys watching two men beat each other to a pulp?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsqJFIJ5lLs

So, why is it scary? Is it because blood sports are a sign of cultural decay or a decline of American moral? Both? Crime rates are rising, senseless acts of violence are everywhere, brutal and irrational force is prevalent in every media source on a minute-by-minute basis. It’s everywhere, even on sitcoms that look innocent at first until someone gets punched, slapped, scratched, clocked or jabbed – first, before questions are asked.

I can’t help but to think that this sport (and the rest of the violence-driven entertainment industry) isn’t helping to balance out the imbalance that so obviously exists on our planet.

The truth of the matter is, violence is horrifying and REAL. It’s more than just a hypnotizing box that breaks for fast food commercials. It’s war, it’s abuse, it’s rape, it’s neglect, it’s bullying and sadly enough, this list goes on and on. Why would we also need to be entertained by it? 

So why does it exist?

I read that there here was an estimated 36 million acts of violence reported in 2007 in the United States.

There are many reasons, influences and explanations, but one idea is that we are feeling devices that think. We often feel first, think later. So, in a world of suppression and violence of every degree, it is no surprise that most of the feelings we have and experience are those of attachment, anger and fear (how do you feel after watching the news?). All of these feelings (or emotional states) are associated with our response pattern to fight or flightand our entertainment industry reflects precisely this state.

Fight of flight is important, but even more so is rest and digest (and this does not mean sitting on the couch finishing off a large cheese pizza). Fight or flight is helpful if we’re running away from a hungry bear, a dangerous spider or an ominous situation, but not necessarily when confronted with another human being at the gas station or grocery store. We’re exhausting fight or flight on every level (road rage, impatience, self deprecation, etc, etc) and not even coming close to tapping into the benefits of rest and digest (maintaining blood pressure, heart rate, optimal digestion, breathing rate and an overall ability to cope).

So do we want to be known as ‘America the Violent’? Or should we start considering that being exposed to unnecessary violence is perhaps over-stimulating our instinct to fight or flight? Perhaps it is time to hone the instinct to rest and digest for a while and only fight or flight when it is truly required.

Photo credit: Cartoon couple; Ultimate fighting

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