It’s difficult to take this spectacle of orchestrated human depravity seriously, but it is perhaps an accidental reflection of where we are as humanity.
Our world is shaped by the existence of inequality, racism, sexism, greed and the constant desire to pummel the living daylights out of each other for the hell of it. The world has gone mad, there’s no getting around it.
I mean, Donald Trump is not only in the White House, he’s actively dismantling the furniture. Jacob Zuma miraculously still has a job, and the Mugabes are – yes, still on the iron throne.
Let’s be honest, it’s a weird world of overt violence by the state and active bigotry by its citizenry. For Exhibits 1, 2 and 3 respectively I will point you in the direction of Charlottesville, the coffin assault in South Africa – and a human smorgasbord of hypocrisy, Andile Mngxitama.
The Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor bout was billed as more than a boxing match. Boxing had little to do with it, now that you think about it. It had everything to do with trashy men talking trash as a precursor to punching each other in the face, with expensive boxing gloves.
The fight was set up in a racial context from the very beginning; the successful black professional boxer who somehow became a representative of “the establishment” supported by largely working class blacks and Latinos, versus the white, racist mixed martial arts fighter backed mainly by working-class white males in Europe and the US.
It's the American “hero” with the billion-dollar smile versus the Irish loudmouth with broken teeth, and what appears to be a permanent concussion. Down to its core, and in the context of the world we live in today, it is black versus white.
Both men walk away from it with at least $100-million each. Mayweather will reportedly earn about $300-million, taking him into the $1-billion club. That doesn’t mean he is worth $1-billion though.
The fight beat most movies at the box office. According to some reports, the fight earned $2.6-million at 534 theatres which charged fans $40 admission. It’s one helluva marketing exercise.
But what does it mean that we can throw such obscene amounts of money at two men who don’t represent much more than anger, violence and greed? I’m sure they have some redeeming qualities inside them both, and a number of charities, but they’re not exactly trading on family values.
The worst part is that we all bought into it, becoming overnight boxing experts and commentators, some even suggesting tactics McGregor should apply. The power of social media is miraculous. We actually believe our own bullsh*t.
According to MMA Mad’s website (Yes, I’m quoting an MMA website), from the beginning of fight week to the end of fight week, Mayweather gained 289 225 likes on Facebook, 1 103 364 followers on Instagram and 154 308 followers on Twitter, earning a 4.17% increase across all platforms.
McGregor gained 574 209 likes on Facebook, 1 647 782 followers on Instagram and 366 343 followers on Twitter, earning the Irishman an 8.96% increase in followers.
McGregor gained 1 041 407 more followers than Mayweather during the week's festivities in Las Vegas.
Maybe I’m missing the point and maybe it’s about the athleticism, fitness and the pugilistic struggle between weak and strong. It’s entertainment, it’s show business – which means pretty much anything goes. We set the bar low at Honey Boo Boo. Mayweather and McGregor are there to make money, even if it means sowing hatred in an already tense landscape.
To be fair, there was some sick pleasure in seeing the white racist take a beating from the …oh wait a minute, the woman beater. It’s problematic this, isn’t it? There is no good guy here, and even participating in the spectacle adds legitimacy to it. The only presence of a woman was the beer ambassador.
Over the course of the longest build-up in boxing history, Mayweather often referenced the female body to degrade his opponent. We know the words. McGregor retorted with his own brand of racial stereotyping to rile Mayweather up and no doubt targeting Mayweather’s fan base too.
Every now and again men need to beat each other in the head, to celebrate the privilege of being male all over the world. Motto: We’ll measure the size of our nuclear missiles first, and grab you by the genitals later.
Maybe I’m just a spoilsport and a hypocrite, because I do love a good game of football, with similar portrayals of masculinity and superiority. Maybe I’ve been doomed from the start. Maybe we all are.
We cannot seem to shake off our corrupt male leaders who act with impunity, nor can we solve the violence against women and children that is enslaving them all over again. Nothing changes. Not in Angola, not in US or Kenya and certainly not in Zimbabwe. Men will continue to be men, and we will make them trend.
We don’t all have to like what Mayweather and McGregor have done, but we have a right not to participate in it. So, if you’re going to participate in this roadshow can we at least dial down the hate speech? And could they have not taken a pay cut?
* This article first appeared in the African Independent
- Adrian Ephraim is the editor of African Independent