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Darrel Manson

Warrior

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As I work on my review, I thought we probably need a thread on this and didn't find one. Not sure why it hasn't shown up yet since it seems there is some marketing going on for Christian audience.

For now let me just say that those of you who can't the violence of boxing movies will really hate MMA.

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For now let me just say that those of you who can't the violence of boxing movies will really hate MMA.

I was thinking the exact same thing: "Gosh, Jeffrey's gonna love this one." :) (Don't see it, Jeffrey.)

As I think I mentioned in the Fighter thread when this subject came up, I've grown more concerned about boxing and its effects on the participants (and audience) in recent years, but I still enjoy a good fight. MMA, though? No, by the time it arrived on the scene, I'd reached my limits with this sort of stuff. Boxing stops just short of those limits; MMA goes way past 'em.

I found the fight footage in Warrior to be brutal. It didn't, and won't, affect my overall view of the film's effectiveness, but I have little desire to watch the actual fights in this film, as exciting as they are. The cracking of bones, the other sounds -- gross and hard to watch and listen to. I leaned over to a friend and said, "I can't beleive this movie isn't rated 'R.'" He reminded me that this MMA stuff airs regularly on ESPN. I think I read recently that NBC struck a deal to bring these competitions to more viewers.

Ick. I realize this movie's success -- and I do think it'll be a success, possibly a smash -- will only hasten the day that MMA is mainstream, if it isn't already. But ... yuck. Liked the drama, liked the characters, but those fights? Ugh.

EDIT: Re-reading this post, I think it may be the first of mine to include the words "ick" "yuck" and "ugh," all in the same paragraph.

Edited by Christian

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Ick. I realize this movie's success -- and I do think it'll be a success, possibly a smash -- will only hasten the day that MMA is mainstream, if it isn't already. But ... yuck. Liked the drama, liked the characters, but those fights? Ugh.

Oh, I believe it's already gone mainstream if my peers are any indication. It seems especially popular among my Christian, male friends, many of whom not only watch it but train at gyms and participate.

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If you haven't read this article on MMA and male Christianity from an ex-MMAer, please do. Great stuff.

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If you haven't read this article on MMA and male Christianity from an ex-MMAer, please do. Great stuff.

Brilliant find, Mike. Thanks so much.

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Stellar article, Mike.

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Thanks Mike. This article touches on a lot of things that I've been trying to articulate in conversations with friends.

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I haven't been able to watch Nacho Libre the same way since I read that.

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If you haven't read this article on MMA and male Christianity from an ex-MMAer, please do. Great stuff.

I could go into more detail about embodiment and homoeroticism (the two early parts where I think the writer makes simple intellectual errors), but I am at work and shouldn't even have spent the time to read that article.

But suffice to say, the architectonic flaw in the piece is that it's essentially one gigantic double turn (if you ever were a policy debater, you need no further explanation). That is to say, his piece is an attempt to rebut an argument made by Mars Hill, Dobson fils et al in the form: "MMA has Features A B C / Features A B C are good for Christianity." By proving (in premise at least) that (1) MMA does not have Features A B C, and (2) Features A B C are not good for Christianity.

Further, the hermeneutic flaw in the piece is that it attempts to rebut an ideal of MMA's virtues with the actual practice of MMA and the behavior of fans ("The Buttkicker Squad" bit made me laugh out loud). For reasons I hope are too obvious to detail, this is not an intellectual practice Christians are wise to engage in.

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Further, the hermeneutic flaw in the piece is that it attempts to rebut an ideal of MMA's virtues with the actual practice of MMA and the behavior of fans ("The Buttkicker Squad" bit made me laugh out loud). For reasons I hope are too obvious to detail, this is not an intellectual practice Christians are wise to engage in.

I would have to agree with you on this final bit, even if I thought the article overall made some really interesting points, especially the bit about embodiment, masculinity, and homoeroticism. I'd like to hear your take on that.

Overall, I didn't think the article was as dismissive of MMA as you seemed to find it. But rather of guys like Driscoll.

Edited by Anders

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I found the fight footage in Warrior to be brutal. It didn't, and won't, affect my overall view of the film's effectiveness, but I have little desire to watch the actual fights in this film, as exciting as they are. The cracking of bones, the other sounds -- gross and hard to watch and listen to. I leaned over to a friend and said, "I can't beleive this movie isn't rated 'R.'" He reminded me that this MMA stuff airs regularly on ESPN. I think I read recently that NBC struck a deal to bring these competitions to more viewers.

It was Fox you are almost certainly thinking of (they recently signed a deal with the UFC).

But anyway -- you're comparing apples and oranges. Movie-sports footage, especially the sound effects, is always goosed up compared to the real thing, to look more visceral (and in the case of fighting sports, violent and lengthy and drawn-out and bloody) than it actually is. I've never been ringside at MMA contests, but I have at boxing ones, and there's no comparison between movies and real life. Ringside does give you a better sense of how tough and grueling the contest is, but not because of the kind of bone-cracking Foley effects you're describing.

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I found the fight footage in Warrior to be brutal. It didn't, and won't, affect my overall view of the film's effectiveness, but I have little desire to watch the actual fights in this film, as exciting as they are. The cracking of bones, the other sounds -- gross and hard to watch and listen to. I leaned over to a friend and said, "I can't beleive this movie isn't rated 'R.'" He reminded me that this MMA stuff airs regularly on ESPN. I think I read recently that NBC struck a deal to bring these competitions to more viewers.

It was Fox you are almost certainly thinking of (they recently signed a deal with the UFC).

But anyway -- you're comparing apples and oranges. Movie-sports footage, especially the sound effects, is always goosed up compared to the real thing, to look more visceral (and in the case of fighting sports, violent and lengthy and drawn-out and bloody) than it actually is. I've never been ringside at MMA contests, but I have at boxing ones, and there's no comparison between movies and real life. Ringside does give you a better sense of how tough and grueling the contest is, but not because of the kind of bone-cracking Foley effects you're describing.

Fair point, although my unease with MMA started long before this movie, in case that wasn't clear. The sound effects and bloody pulp on view in Warrior might be amped up, making them more difficult to see than real-life matches, but I was troubled by MMA the very first time I saw clips of the matches, years ago -- with no Hollywood effects to heighten the effect of what was happening in the ring.

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Trying to work out the back story (spoilers):

Brendan was 16 -- "a kid," he says -- when the family split up. So Tommy was younger than that -- around 14, let's say -- at the time of the split. And Paddy and Brendan haven't seen Tommy since then, right? So whatever training Paddy gave Tommy would only have been into his early teens? So Tommy won six Junior Olympic titles by the time he was 14 or so? I guess that's possible.

I'm supposing that was the end of Tommy's competitive pugilism until the present. At any rate, he couldn't have had a notable career after that, or he would have had another coach, which would certainly come up. (Either he would go back to his other coach, or he would be at pains to say why he wasn't going back to his other coach, as part of his whole "You're nothing to me" schtick.)

The way that Tommy and Paddy talk about going back to the old training regimen and the diet and all sounds odd to me if it all happened before Tommy was even 16. Training a grown man for professional cage fighting is completely different from training a 14-year-old for Junior Olympics wrestling, no? Would Tommy really be in a position to say "That much you were good at" based on his experience at 14?

Or could he be talking about Paddy subsequently coaching Brendan, who was a cage fighter in his 20s ("on the right side of 30")? Was Paddy Brendan's coach? Or was it Frank? Or perhaps both at different times?

Paddy could have coached Brendan as an adult. Their estrangement may be of comparatively recent vintage (Paddy has at least seen his older granddaughter). Brendan, though, complains that even after Tommy left (when Brendan was 16), Paddy wasn't really interested in training Brendan. Does that mean Paddy trained Brendan during his cage-fighting 20s, but his heart wasn't in it? Or that Brendan had to turn to a different coach?

Am I missing something? Or am I thinking about it too hard?

But suffice to say, the architectonic flaw in the piece is that it's essentially one gigantic double turn (if you ever were a policy debater, you need no further explanation). That is to say, his piece is an attempt to rebut an argument made by Mars Hill, Dobson fils et al in the form: "MMA has Features A B C / Features A B C are good for Christianity." By proving (in premise at least) that (1) MMA does not have Features A B C, and (2) Features A B C are not good for Christianity.

Which might or might not go to the persuasiveness of whatever the author has to say about MMA and Christianity, but doesn't at all undermine the persuasiveness of his critique of Mars Hill, Dobson fils et al.

Further, the hermeneutic flaw in the piece is that it attempts to rebut an ideal of MMA's virtues with the actual practice of MMA and the behavior of fans ("The Buttkicker Squad" bit made me laugh out loud). For reasons I hope are too obvious to detail, this is not an intellectual practice Christians are wise to engage in.

Isn't the actual practice of MMA and the behavior of fans a valid subject of critique?

Edited by SDG

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Further, the hermeneutic flaw in the piece is that it attempts to rebut an ideal of MMA's virtues with the actual practice of MMA and the behavior of fans ("The Buttkicker Squad" bit made me laugh out loud). For reasons I hope are too obvious to detail, this is not an intellectual practice Christians are wise to engage in.

Isn't the actual practice of MMA and the behavior of fans a valid subject of critique?

Especially when this behavior is the subtext of the proclamation of an ideal manhood.

If this is one of your problems with the piece, I am a surprised that you describe it this way. I have no problems with people confronting ideals with their actual execution. You obviously have much to say in defense of MMA, but do you agree with Driscoll's idealistic use of MMA as a formative example of Christian masculinity?

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So no one who's seen this film so far has any thoughts on my back story musings?

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Apparent not.

Meanwhile, Andrew O'Hehir (edit, not Sarris!) is getting tiresome. First Secretariat was a "honey-dipped fantasy vision of the American past as the Tea Party would like to imagine it," and now Warrior is a "pseudo-individualist, sub-Freudian, Tea Party-friendly fantasy."

Um, okay. Sports movie that O'Hehir does not like, thy name is Tea Party.

Edited by SDG

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While I was skeptical about part of the backstory, especially Tommy's early wrestling record, I didn't let it bother me that much. Maybe because I went in with lowered expectation since it's a MMA film.

What bothered me more was Brendan's suspension without pay from school - are there no teachers unions there?

And MPs waiting to take Tommy into custody after the match. They find a battle field deserter and his ass would be manacled and shipped to the brig as soon it was known who he was.

Suffice it to say there are plot holes.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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And MPs waiting to take Tommy into custody after the match. They find a battle field deserter and his ass would be manacled and shipped to the brig as soon it was known who he was.

Couldn't Tommy's rock-star level military hero status based on his YouTubed rescue of the drowning troops in the tank suffice to account for this irregularity?

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I suspect that is what they would like us to think. I have doubts though. I was surprised that the USMC contingent in the crowd was still as supportive knowing the truth. Keep in mind, he's not just AWOL, he deserted while incountry.

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I suspect that is what they would like us to think. I have doubts though. I was surprised that the USMC contingent in the crowd was still as supportive knowing the truth. Keep in mind, he's not just AWOL, he deserted while incountry.

Since the last bit of news had only just broken, the USMC contingent might not have known.

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I have a couple questions regarding Driscoll's idea that men are made for fighting and domination:

(1) If men are made for domination, what about the loser in an MMA match? He didn't dominate — is he a failed man?

(2) If men are made for combat, why are almost all the men at an MMA event spectators? Surely the pure model for Driscoll isn't MMA: it's Fight Club, where everyone fights.

---

Because of the basic demographic reality, it isn't by looking at the fighters, but at the SPECTATORS at an MMA event that we can learn from MMA something about what men are like. And this is not a particularly pretty picture. Among the spectators, we don't see men as brave warriors, ignoring pain and fear to strive courageously for victory. Sadly, the lesson of the spectators is a lesson about men risking and achieving nothing at all, only indulging appetites of one sort or another. Fortunately, when these men are NOT at MMA events, but working at their jobs and taking care of their families, then we see them in a much more positive light, even if Driscoll sees that part of their lives as lacking the TRUE manliness of fighting and dominion.

Edited by bowen

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Really good comments, Bowen.

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Because of the basic demographic reality, it isn't by looking at the fighters, but at the SPECTATORS at an MMA event that we can learn from MMA something about what men are like. And this is not a particularly pretty picture. Among the spectators, we don't see men as brave warriors, ignoring pain and fear to strive courageously for victory. Sadly, the lesson of the spectators is a lesson about men risking and achieving nothing at all, only indulging appetites of one sort or another.

I wonder how Driscoll's thoughts re. MMA jive with his thoughts re. video games (which he criticizes as something stupid that merely trades in fantasies about fighting great, epic battles).

Edited by opus

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bowen wrote:

: (2) If men are made for combat, why are almost all the men at an MMA event spectators? Surely the pure model for Driscoll isn't MMA: it's Fight Club, where everyone fights.

Ha!

opus wrote:

: I wonder how Driscoll's thoughts re. MMA jive with his thoughts re. video games (which he criticizes as something stupid that merely trades in fantasies about fighting great, epic battles).

Haha!

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My review goes the Jacob/Esau route.

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