Why I’m Not Laughing at the MMA Episode of “The Simpsons”
Last Sunday, “The Simpsons” aired a new episode centered on Mixed Martial Arts. It wasn’t a good episode by any stretch, which is par for the course the last several years of the series. In the episode, Marge organized a protest against MMA events held in Springfield and as a result is challenged to a fight by the promoter, who promises to stop putting on shows if she wins.
The show was littered with inaccuracies about the sport, portraying it as a bloodsport with little to no rules (and no referee). Fans of the sport were portrayed as dumb, largely uneducated, and literally screaming for blood. All in good fun, right?
Well, not quite. As noted in USA Today, UFC president Dana White has a bone to pick with the writing room of one of the longest-running shows in television history:
“I was disappointed,” White says. “I think it was typical of people that don’t know anything about the sport. I know it’s for fun, but the second half of it really wasn’t even funny. …We like fighting. But to make it sound like the UFC crowd is this bloodthirsty crowd that shows up and just want to see people get their (butts) kicked — that’s not true. That’s the stigma that the mainstream has of us. … The Simpsons program will show you how mainstream we’re not.”
I shouldn’t even comment on this because I know it’ll result in a flame war, but I am absolutely, 100% with Dana White on this one.
In their post about White’s comments, the guys over at Cage Potato argued that White shouldn’t have expected much else. After all, the show is known for its over-the-top satire with (intentionally) gross inaccuracies, particularly when it comes to sports (they provide their portrayals of the worlds of boxing and baseball as prime examples).
I understand the argument, and think that it’s only fair that we put it on the context of the series as a whole. But if we’re going to talk context, I think we should extend the same courtesy to Dana’s (and my) concerns over how the sport was portrayed. After all, baseball and boxing aren’t thriving for mainstream acceptance, illegal in ten states, or have a history of being misrepresented and attacked by politicians, lobbyists, and hacky sports journalists.
As a fan of MMA, I’m constantly striving for people to if not embrace then at least accept the sport, and it’s frustrating when something as high-profile as “The Simpsons” reinforces all the stereotypes and misconceptions that the sport and its fans have been trying for years to discredit. I’m particularly touchy about it since there’s a battle in my state to legalize MMA and we keep getting blocked by empty-headed rhetoric coupled with downright lies from the likes of State Assemblyman Bob Reilly.
I’m sure most of you reading this will dismiss me as taking it too seriously and/or not having a sense of humor. It’d be different if the sport were accepted and legal and not under attack from groups that use misinformation and downright lies to further their own agenda (whatever that is). As it stands, until we as MMA fans don’t have to fight the sort of idiocy that we face from legislators and stubborn athletic commissions, I’m not laughing.