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Are You Not Entertained? by Sal Moriarty

Instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Ismay: But this ship can't sink!

Andrews: She's made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can...

From the movie “Titanic”

Not long ago, I visited a sports bar for dinner. It was in a town about thirty miles outside of New Orleans, where I lived at the time. That said, it could have been anywhere. The walls were covered in LSU and Saints memorabilia, but the environment would have been the same in Berkeley, California or College Station, Texas.

Not a fan of loud places, or loud people, it was a sketchy decision on my part. It would not be my last sketchy decision of the night. Evidently, that little devil you see in movies and on television, whispering in the protagonist's ear, is real. That being the case, I decided to sit at the bar (yeah, I know). I calculated it would be faster to order with the bartender close at hand. Logical, right?

Everything proceeded reasonably well. My food (chicken strips and fries with ranch dressing) came fast enough, and the bartender was friendly and attentive. There was a baseball game on the huge TV above the liquor bottles behind the bar. LSU was playing. The patrons were enthusiastic.

After dinner, I surprised myself by ordering a drink (old fashioned, Maker's Mark). I decided to stick around and see how the Fighting Tigers would fare. There were drunks, to be sure, but everyone was having a relatively innocent, good time. When the game ended, the Tigers were victorious. The drunken gathered were happy and feeling warm, as is often the case in a bar. So, I ordered another drink.

It was one too many.

I'm not a chit-chatty kind of guy, I suppose, but I had a few pleasant interactions with some folks. They discovered I'm a fan of the Longhorns, and wanted to discuss their impending entry into the SEC (that's the Southeastern Conference, for the uninitiated). How were the Horns going to do in the greatest conference in the history of conferences (to hear the locals tell it)? I said, as I often do regarding topics great and small, I didn't know.

It was at this point, I glanced back at the television.

There are things that exist in America I am aware of but, because I am aware of them, they're kept at arm's length. There's an old Nick Drake song with the line, “So leave the ways that are making you be, what you really don't want to be”. I interpret that to mean avoid situations of a low, and/or vulgar, nature, lest you become of a low/vulgar nature yourself . Sounds kind of snobbish. I'm OK with that as low/vulgar, to me, simply refers to those things representing the lowest of common denominators (garbage in, garbage out, my Southern Baptist mother used to say).

On television, there was being broadcast a sport which, in my estimation, falls into both the vulgar and low categories. I don't remember who the sponsors were, but they were certainly well known American companies – beer, something with Matthew McConaughey probably, pharmaceuticals hawking erectile dysfunction medications, etc. So, low/vulgar or not, I was obviously viewing a mainstream sport.

I am not sure what it is called, but it is a sport where people simply beat the tea-totaling crap out of each other. Not boxing. In this sport, you can straddle the limp body of your opponent and pummel him to the cheers of an inebriated crowd. That's exactly what was on view this particular night; except. in this case, the competitors were women.

Let me make one thing clear. Obviously(!)), women must be able to attempt anything they want to attempt. No different than men. Period. No exceptions. I can't express it any clearer than that. I don't think the sport should be banned. I'll never grab a sign and protest such an event as I can't imagine myself grabbing a sign to protest anything. Where would one even start?

That said, I saw fellow citizens leaning across the bar screaming for blood as some poor young woman (yes, voluntarily) was being beaten to absolute hell. It seemed a nihilistic exhibition of the highest order. Lawyers, factory workers, waiters, accountants – you name it - shrieking excitedly as she was beaten senseless. Men and women alike, reveling in the mayhem.

There was a surreal quality to it all. It was nauseating; her face looked like cookie dough when they peeled her off the floor.

I believe, with certain limitations, adult Americans should be able to pursue whatever they choose to pursue. There is, however, a caveat. They must also be willing to accept the consequences of their desires. So, what are the consequences of viewing, as entertainment, a woman being beaten to a gory pulp? Who can say, but I am of the opinion such a culture is not long for this world.


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