A Slap in the Face

This is a story that could serve as a metaphor for what it feels like to read the news these days. But it’s also a metaphor for several other trends in America, including the fact that a lot of people are thrilled by a “sport” that others assume must be some kind of slapstick comedy. NYT (Gift Article): In Las Vegas, a Violent Sport Sparks Controversy. “Referees and the medical staff onstage at the Cobalt Ballroom at the Fontainebleau Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas late last month rushed to check on Marusarz. Any hesitation in the cheering and applause from the 3,500-person crowd was alleviated when someone with a clear view of the ring yelled out that Marusarz was still breathing. The atmosphere had the boozy jocularity of a bachelor party. Dumpling raised a fist, grinning in triumph as the announcer declared him the victor. Marusarz remained unmoving on the floor. The whole fight, if you can call it as much, lasted about 30 seconds. Most fans agreed that it was the highlight of the evening’s eight-bouts event, in which one pair of competitors after another stood their ground and exchanged earsplitting slaps.” This gruesome spectacle is almost as hard to watch as a televised presidential debate.

+ I covered this topic last may: Slappy Ending. As I said then, there’s got to be some connection between our raging politics and culture wars and the fact that we’re inventing new—and ever more basic—ways to pummel the hell out of each other. I’ve been beating myself up trying to understand it.

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