Who would’ve thought the most MMA action we would see over the weekend would come in the form of Meryl Streep. The long time actress was honored with a lifetime achievement award at this past weekend’s Golden Globe. After being welcomed to the stage by Viola Davis, Streep began he speech in earnest. Midway through, Streep made a joke at the expense of fans and athletes of the sports of football as well as mixed martial arts. If you haven’t heard the details then let me fill you in.
Meryl Streep is not a fan of MMA. At least in the context of the sport being an art form. On a speech that touched largely on how foreigners have helped to build Hollywood into the powerful machine that it is today, Streep went on to take a few jabs at some popular sports as a means of highlighting the potential “dark road” America could be traveling towards.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” Streep said. “If we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Now, let’s just unpack that statement a bit. Putting MMA and football in the same sentence is an interesting choice to begin with. One is beloved as the greatest sport in the world, while the other is literally a sport represented all over the world. Football is firmly an American past time enjoyed in other countries, but not as fiercely as it is in the US. Mixed martial arts is a sport that can be traced back through history from multiple different countries, each of them treating the endeavor with an immense amount of admiration and respect. MMA organizations feature competitors, both men and women, who hail from different countries all around the globe. If Streep’s point was to say that foreign exclusion will mean we’ll only have American past times as entertainment, then she could have potentially found some other example besides MMA, one of the most diverse sports out there.
Now, while the statement was designed to be merely a joke, it has produced a stream of complaints and outrage among the MMA community. But here’s the question that we as MMA fans, practioners, and competitors should all take into consideration. While her statements may have been hurtful to some extent, we have to ask ourselves about what message she was trying to get across.
Her statements of inclusion and respecting each other as human beings should be the shinning point that we all take away from her acceptance speech. Rather than focusing on the negative in terms of her denigration of sports she may not be interested in herself, there was still a very powerful message in her words. The big problem is that as much as free speech is a right for every American, educating herself on the facts before throwing a collective community under the bus should have been a consideration. Scott Coker, President of Bellator MMA, may have had the best response to the subject.
As a martial artist and an MMA promoter, here is my open letter and #Bellator170 invite to the very talented #MerylStreep #GoldenGlobes pic.twitter.com/zostN22RAK
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) January 9, 2017
If she doesn’t think MMA is art, then that’s fine. After all it’s her opinion. But you and I know better. The intricacies of the techniques, the mechanics needed to perform actions with perfect execution beg to differ with Streep’s statements. Go ahead and try to convince me that karate katas or forms in other traditional martial arts isn’t a thing of beauty, a venerable work of art even. Not everyone will look at it through that lens, but we as followers of MMA should learn to brush it off and accept that no matter what, it’s the opinion of one individual. How we conduct ourselves and how we treat the sport will prove that MMA is not only an art form, but one of the greatest in the world.
What are your thoughts on Meryl Streep’s statements about MMA?
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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