Thread: A Paper I Wrote
10/01/2004 1:08am, #1
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A Paper I Wrote
I wrote this for a media analysis class last year, and thought you all might like to see it. Keep in mind that due to paper length limits, I couldn't go into significant detail on UFC history and could only make simplified statements.
Comments and criticisms welcome:
INTRODUCTION: International Martial Arts and Fight Entertainment
Like any pursuit, the martial arts community is composed of an extremely diverse, heterogeneous population that spans the entire globe. Some practitioners advocate a purist, orthodox approach with no deviation from tradition, where others will call for radical changes in terms of instruction. In modern times, the radicals apparently won out in terms of commercial and practical success. Before the UFC, even martial arts matches in the Olympics had low viewer ratings; the only successful avenue for publicly displayed martial arts was basically martial arts movies.
Claiming that studying only a single style left a practitioner open to fatal weaknesses in technique, a number of individuals in the 20th century began constructing a series of martial arts termed “Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)” that were meant to be total fighting systems or blends of already existing systems, with names as exotic as Kajukenbo (an acronym for 4 blended styles), Krav Maga (an Israeli art meaning “contact fighting”) Vale Tudo, and Luta Livre (both Brazilian terms for “Anything goes”) The Ultimate Fighting Championship league (UFC) was meant to be the proving ground for martial arts. Initially pairing up any two fighters who wanted to fight with a minimum of rules, the league evolved due to internal and external pressures into its current incarnation of an accepted spectator sport disseminated through pay-per-view (PPV) cable TV, DVD recordings of fights, and more recently, video game format on numerous systems.
But what messages does the UFC broadcast in conjunction with displaying the fights? Are there any subtle meanings or values that are imparted upon the viewer with each $24.99 view? By using the concept of ideological analysis discussed by Mimi White, several interpretations come to light for the viewer.
IDEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS: Definition and Application
Basics: Drawing on Marxist theories and other sources of intellectual analysis, Mimi White in her article “Ideological Analysis and Television” demonstrates several critical concepts for viewing and understanding television, and how it provides information and status for its viewers.
After giving a general deconstruction of a Vicks cold and cough commercial, White offers a general definition and explanation of what ideological analysis is and why it’s such an important technique:
“[Ideological criticism] is concerned with the ways in which cultural practices and artifacts…produce particular knowledges and positions for their users. Ideological analysis is based on the assumption that cultural artifacts – literature, film, television, and so forth – are produced in specific historical contexts, by and for social groups. Ideological analysis aims to understand how a cultural text embodies and enacts particular ranges of values, beliefs, and ideas. ”
In other words, White asserts that context is the primary factor in understanding a text’s ideas and their impact on the population. At this point in her discourse, White does not conclusively indicate whether a text is a product of culture or culture a product of a text, but in later explanation, she gives evidence that a text is more likely to be shaped by the ideas around it rather than creating new paradigms of thought through textual dissemination. Acknowledging the difficulty in analyzing television and its diversity of text display, White suggests that Marxist theory offers an appropriate framework for deconstruction.
Marxist Theories: The first and most basic Marxist theory that White discusses is Classical/Orthodox Marxism, which she also dismisses as too simplistic for proper analysis. Classical Marxism basically dictates that the singular linchpin of human society is the economic base, or more specifically, the means of production within that society. Divisions in status are solely on who owns the means of production and who labors within it. But more importantly, this ruling class seeks to maintain its power by perpetuating a “false consciousness:” A set of ideals and beliefs portrayed as “natural and common sense” so that the lower classes incorporate them and remains unaware of their servant status. But in her disqualification of its use:
“…the Classical Marxist approach is limited by its inability to account for the fact that, as Robert Allen notes in the introduction, most people watch television, most of the time, because they find it enjoyable. ”
According to White, Classical Marxism appears to be more valid as a discipline when the output of texts by the “ruling class” is more homogeneous and overtly political. But since modern television allows for a wider array of views (though not a complete spectrum by any means) to be promoted to the general public, a more comprehensive theory is necessary that takes into account other factors besides economics.
Hegemony and Althusser: Instead of the dichotomous “ruling class vs. non-ruling class” formula of Classical Marxism, another Marxist named Antonio Gramsci came up with the concept of “hegemony.” Within hegemony, a dominant class still exerts control over society, but that control manifests itself in arenas other than economics, such as politics. While the ruling class allows other views and beliefs, the caveat is that these non-dominant systems much accept the dominant system as “the prevailing ones.” Instead of a class struggle between means of production and proletariat, the conflicts become more complex:
“Social and cultural conflict is expressed as a struggle for hegemony, a struggle over which ideas are recognized as the prevailing, commonsense view for the majority of social participants. ”
Louis Althusser, another Marxist, built upon this principle of hegemony by changing the model of societal infrastructure from a monolithically economic one to one where economy was primary, but allowed politics and ideology to have significant, semi-independent power in society as well; a concept he termed “relative autonomy.” Moving forward from the “false consciousness” approach of Classical Marxism, the purpose of Althusser’s ideological analysis is to “understand the ways in which meanings are produced by and for individuals within a social formation: ”
“In other words, ideology is not a message hidden within a text or system of representation, it is the very system of representation itself and the commonsense principles that endow the system with meaning for those who participate in it. ”
While the content of a text is important, the format also is as well. To summarize White’s own analysis of several television shows, factors such as commercial advertisements, length of feature, the channel it’s broadcast upon are all important features. American TV shows are formulated around the fact that a half-hour show will be broken up by 3 three-minute commercial breaks meant to target the same demographic the show does; an hour-long special on NBC will not be as graphic or detailed as one on HBO might be since NBC is a free, available channel on regular TV with commercial interruptions while HBO must be purchased with cable television and has no commercial interruptions of their shows. These characteristics and more show how modified Marxist theories can deconstruct a text and demonstrate the conclusions drawn from it. As will be detailed, other factors of television shows such as “skill vs. luck”, political pressure on economic interests, and more all apply to the UFC.
THE UFC: The Ultimate Fighting Championship (?)
Before you even hear promotional materials about the UFC, the name already makes an obvious statement about what the nature of the UFC is: It’s ultimate; it’s meant to be the foremost martial arts fighting league in the world. The website proclaims that the UFC is “…setting the gold standard for the evolving and exciting sport of Mixed Martial Arts. ” However, the UFC as it exists today was not the same UFC when it first began. Within that revolutionary change lies a series of changes and alterations to the very nature of the league over the years. Given the lack of space to go into full detail, I will discuss only a couple of features that are critical to understanding the UFC: Its realism and the nature of its outcomes.
Realism: The UFC emphasizes on its website and through its video clips during matches that every fighter is a top-caliber pugilist and among “the most talented martial arts experts in the world. ” The implication is that with this high degree of talent from all the fighters also comes the most realistic combat between opponents. But the website is quick to emphasize:
“The new Ultimate Fighting Championship distinguishes itself from the controversial spectacle of the past by focusing on safety, sportsmanship and production quality. ”
In the introduction, the fact was stated that the UFC began as an “anything goes” fighting circuit. The consequence was a massive outcry from advocates and political figures that essentially said that the UFC could not be broadcast from America until it cleaned up its act. This meant instituting uniform requirements, mandating gloves for all participants, and banning most moves previously allowed, as well as other measures.
10/01/2004 1:08am, #2
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Asides from this political pressure on economic interests, examine the very nature of the matches: A person knows who they are fighting, when, what time it will be, where it’s at, what style of fighting they train in, for how long, etc. etc. A real-life combat situation such as a war or a mugging gone bad does not offer the chance for people to plan their diets or workout schedules around the encounter. The fact they have the best fighters in the world but restricting their techniques is like having a sports car constantly in first gear: Capable of so much more, but limited by it’s settings and not fully demonstrative of its total ability.
Outcomes: To reiterate, the UFC claims that it has the best fighters in the world; the products of superior training and conditioning over the course of many years. All the fighters in the UFC appear to have accolades such as “World Heavyweight Kickboxing Champ” or “1st place fighter in Russian Special Forces” or even “Brazilian Olympic Boxing contender.”
But at the same time, the announcers (all former fighters themselves) constantly refer to variables that sometimes have little to do with these aforementioned conditions. “Lucky shots” are a repeated concept in the matches: An inferior fighter gets in one shot that takes down the other opponent in some fashion. As Mimi White observed about game shows:
“A player proceeding with all due skill can suddenly be elminated in a crucial round of the game. In other words, a double narrative logic is at work, one combining knowledge and luck. ”
The dominant reading of the UFC is that the fighter that trained the most, prepared the most, and performed the hardest in the Octagon will be the one to win. However, many alternative readings exist that can allow for spirited, or even violent discussion and interpretation among viewers. Cries of “The other guy was older, more experienced” or “Muay Thai can’t do anything against Jiu-Jitsu” or “LUCKY F**KIN CHEAP SHOT PUNCH!” are all common responses to matches that either went with or against someone’s preconceived notions. The UFC can reinforce the notion that age or weight or a specific style of martial art can be the critical factor rather than skill and knowledge.
The UFC has unarguably created a viable format for the televised display of martial arts. It has done so by toning down its radical, anything-goes image to a league that emphasizes that even in unregulated venues, it still operates under the same rules and restrictions as if it were in Nevada or New Jersey (both regulated areas). It has borrowed pyrotechnics and lighting spectacles from pro wrestling, and it’s incorporated the same willingness as boxing to be bound by protocols created by state licensing boards. However, in other areas, it falls short of its desired image.
With the possible exceptions of the controversial “Bumfights” video series and the occasional violent scene from “Cops”, unregulated combat is never a televised event. Even the earliest incarnation of the UFC prevented eye gouging, biting, and “fish-hooking” (putting your fingers into an orifice and tugging), all techniques that could be potentially employed in a combat situation, and all techniques that are studied in some martial art systems employed in the UFC. Also, clothing requirements and restrictions such as banning shoes or uniforms inhibits certain arts from full effectiveness, such as Savate’s dependence on shoes or Jiu-Jitsu’s use of the uniform to assist in techniques. While the matches under the UFC are accurate in the sense they are unscripted and use real martial arts, they are not realistic in the sense they used to be in terms of placing realism over the safety of the fighter and political interests.
Alternative readings in the UFC are extremely easy to generate, even with the dominant assertion that skill and conditioning are the primary factors in winning a match. A guy with a favorite fighter can always call him #1 even when he loses. He can blame it on his opponent being “cheap”, much stronger than the favorite, more lucky, or in some cases, even (assumably) favored by the referee in terms of penalties and the referee stopping a fight. While the more contemporary trend of similar training styles and weight classes alleviate some of these factors, they do not completely eliminate them. However, I do not see this as a bad thing since the devotion of a fan to a fighter is not as easily broken when it’s possible to keep believing in his ability.
Similar to White’s conclusions on the reason for the popularity of game shows, the UFC likely enjoys its current popularity because of the previously mentioned “tension” between skill and chance that allows for “identification with and distance from the players. ” But further, the UFC has created a viable format where literally anyone from most countries in the world can watch and cheer on a fighter, especially since practitioners of martial arts are fiercely loyal to their art and would defend it as “the best”. As long as the UFC still has the approval of governing bodies and maintains the excitement of the fight, it will continue to remain popular for a long time to come.
10/01/2004 1:42am, #3
It may seem unfair to write an HDA? about people who don't actually do martial arts, so before we go any further i'd like to clear this up: It took far more effort for me to find Mind Bending tales of Ninjutsu Futurism in the archives of furry message boards than in forums populated by people who have been, as they frequently like to remind me, training since I was in diapers. And if you're wondering why middle aged ninjas enjoy the thought of me in a diaper, shitting myself and drinking breastmilk then clearly you don't get the feeling of Ichimonji posture.
I actually had to wade through several annoyingly reasonable discussions of recent MMA events on anime-forums to get to the juicy stuff
This is standard fare, I just wanted to point out the irony of a woman whose signature includes a link to greenpeace's website and a peaceful, beauty and the beast type picture of the girl from Wolf's Rain lovingly cuddling one of her animal friends, taking such evident pleasure in imagining a battle to the death between immortal kung fu zombies.
we toss around terms like LARPer pretty casually over here, but you haven't really lived until you've seen someone use a term normally reserved for causing an ammo explosion in your battlemech to describe bruce lee's sidekick.
There's just something about Kung Fu that causes it's practicioners to follow a Bizzaro world logic where techniques (which are not actually techniques but principles which are hidden in forms which are really just ways of cultivating qi which is really just proper body mechanics which are seen in correct techniques and also here's some photos of boxers shadowboxing lol why don't you tell Lennox Lewis he's a form fairy, silly gwailo) are plucked from a random posture generator (traditionally this process would involve an abacus and several of the Emperor's best Confucian administrators). Then a use for said technique is retconned onto it, showing an improvisational ability that would make an Iron Chef proud.
Also: Spazmaster666's instructor's apperant tone of voice makes me wonder if that kind of dirty talk is common at Shaolin-Do schools, and if so, are their flimsy Kung Fu suits really up to the task of containing the raging submissive hard ons this must produce?
What an insightful question. Ever since the Chinese Communist Party emasculated the traditional martial arts, every school I sample is devoted to finding new ways to slowly, erotically massaging my opponent's forearms, elbows and forehead. Lethal techniques such as the semi-mythical "strike with the fist" have been, alas, lost to the mists of time.
spazmaster is still unaware of the ridiculousness of being impressed by the practicality of your school's weapons forms when your weapons are either things found in the Predator's utility belt, leftover Exalted campaign weapons or components of a "psychotic dragon lady" halloween costume set.
I can't tell if this guy's being facetious or if he's really that misanthropic and megalomaniacal. Either way, I want him inside me, right now.
This guy is kindof like what would happen if you printed out the complete lyrics to every Dropkick Murphies song and devoted your life to living the principles of this, your new bible.
"The totality of the fighting arts is only expressible in a life or death situation where I am swarmed by Gangsta Leprechauns and forced to demolish their throats...except if it involves rassling with hot chicks, in which case BONERS AWAY!!"
While this self important douchenozzle lectured me about transcending the polar opposites of desire and dissapointment, I actually lost several enlightenment points while I fantasized about raping him.
This guy's kidding but that seriously is the subconscious motivation for people to do self destructive things like banging their knuckles against makiwara or talking about their Aikido training in public.
"Even in my karate class I don't ke-ah. I just stay quiet. I don't like to be exertive, just in my own fantasy land."
You're in the right place.
I wonder if, at night, the fantasy replica weapons talk to her and tell her the cruel lie that someone will someday love her.
Some forum cliches are universal. For instance, whenever a woman posts about training or wanting to train or having once seen some show somewhere where somebody trained, there's always a reflexive reaction by the local retards consisting of posting things like "I love a woman who could kick my ass!!" or "If I weren't already trapped in a loveless marriage with a woman who doesn't satisfy me sexually, i'd be totally all up in your **** ;-)".
"After all, who, today, remembers the Samboists?"
[Too bad the Russian styles are being outlawed by the Asian ones though, because Sambo is very practical and powerful. ]
AnimeNation was also frustratingly sane for the first couple of threads, but as soon as my keyword search started turning up threads where people expressed real life emotions for Anime Characters, I knew wonderful magick was afoot.
You know, there's such a thing as being too fucking cultured, which I guess explains the whole Lao Tzu thing. Please, stop taking martial arts if you ever find yourself having this conversation in daily life:
Miserable wage slave: Would you like to supersize that for only thirty nine cents more [sigh]?
You: The wise man is imprisoned within a cage of words but the swallow flies straight towards the moon. The master said "KaaaaaAAAAA!" once, then was silent.
Traditional martial artists who watch MMA will, if they don't immediately dismiss it as padded rasslin' for total fags, view the experience through a kind of sustained faux-disbelief that these supposedly elite level athletes are too ***** to bust out with Golden Serpent Embraces the Sun or whatever awkwardly named technique with an inverted risk-reward ratio they assume the fighters could apply if they only had the common sense to switch to bullet time.
I puzzled and puzzled but there is no way I can seem to make a "being dragged behind a truck as traditional southern gong fu conditioning method" joke that isn't either terribly awkward or offensive enough to make me hate myself permanently.
The only way I can explain this post is that this guy is actually an account for someone's self-insertion fanfic character.
"White Hell" seems to think that dragging fags behind his truck is a traditional southern Gong Fu training method.
Cosplay.com is dear to my heart. I've met people from that website. I won't let Ninjas molest my friends in their sleep.
This is clearly a special prestige class available only in the latest rulebook.
The social disaster here is the lady acting like Tae Kwon Do isn't something to be very, very ashamed of.
Not macho? I'll be the first to admit a vice for adorable, effeminate catboys, but I can't think of a bigger waste of time than asking them to teach you how to fight. Those are hours the both of you could be spending wet and soapy, people!
Also, please note that this girl, like every other person who does terrible martial arts (Shotokan) that her dojo is in the hardcore 1%.
So basically San Soo is the stylistic equivalent of those autistic kids who make up their own private languages?
A little background:
1: Masamune is the name of Sephiroth's sword in Final Fantasy 7. It is seven feet long, and yes, I see you there self consciously holding your hand over your mouth and ready to bust out with an overcompensation joke. **** you, the man killed Aeris. He deserves canonisation for that alone.
2: Danzikumaru is the founder of my cosplay club. What is it about Austin? We have Element Ninjas, thong sporting amnesiac dudes and faux Shaolin Monks who worship Chewbacca. The only thing that would make this city complete is Gregor Samsa in a giant terrarium and a publicly sponsored erotic herm.
I don't know if he's trying to imitate Emperor Palpatine or the guy from Tool. Either way, i'm sure he first thought up those lines with his head in a toilet.
Actually, no, I don't understand. I thought I was a cosplayer, but apperantly cosplay is not about having fun with costumes and being glad that your boyfriend is nice and understanding, but rather the kind of cult that was popular in the late 70s, where we pose in unison for hours on end after not sleeping for days, then blow kisses at Man-Faye's fourty BMWs.
Why can't we do that during regular Martial Arts classes or demos?
"So as you can see, the aliveness in Ninjutsu is achieved by calculating the vector of an incoming punch which you then div*BWOOONG*
Yeah, Wing Chun is pretty offensive, AM I RIGHT FOLKS OW OW OH PLEASE GOD NOT IN THE KNEES
I'm fairly sure this is how Magneto masturbates.
Well that's all for now. This time i've managed to avoid having my actions discovered and having to defend myself by threatening Relena Peacecraft then having a duel aboard a Zeppelin. At least I think...
OH **** LOOK OUT
Last edited by Hedgehogey; 8/30/2007 3:06am at .
"The only important elements in any society
are the artistic and the criminal,
because they alone, by questioning the society's values,
can force it to change."-Samuel R. Delany
RENDERING GELATINOUS WINDMILL OF DICKS
THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST NON-EUCLIDIAN SPLATTERJOUST EVER
It seems that the only people who support anarchy are faggots, who want their pathetic immoral lifestyle accepted by the mainstream society. It wont be so they try to create their own.-Oldman34, friend to all children
10/01/2004 1:43am, #4
Whew! Im glad I didn't bother reading it then.
10/01/2004 1:57am, #5
I don't take issue with your assertions about the UFC, but why start off using Marxist theory as the basis for an essay?
10/01/2004 3:06am, #6
Originally posted by I Choke You
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I don't take issue with your assertions about the UFC, but why start off using Marxist theory as the basis for an essay?
And while Marxism as a government sucks ass and doesn't work, some of the ideological theories behind it have value in terms of social critique. It essentially says "Where the dollars are maximized is where the dominant ideology exists"
10/01/2004 4:13am, #7
10/01/2004 5:18am, #8
Ok, I get it now. Well done IMO.
10/12/2004 8:43am, #9
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I don't think even Marx understood Marx.
He was a mystic, not a "scientist"
The fallacies in Das Kapital pile up right from the beginning, but he was a Ricardian so he just continued the British classical's schools mistakes and brought in some irrational class conflict stuff.
+2 points for plugging bumfights
10/12/2004 9:54am, #10Originally posted by samurai_steve
...Kajukenbo (an acronym for 4 blended stylesOriginally posted by Osiris
I dont know much about kajukenbo,
Some call Kajukenbo America's first martial art system, having been founded in 1949 in Hawaii. Kajukenbo's inception came about when five Hawaiian martial artists started on a project to develop a comprehensive self defense system. These five men of vision were Peter Choo, the Hawaii welterweight boxing champion, and a Tang Soo Do black belt. Frank Ordonez, a Sekeino Jujitsu black belt. Joe Holck, a Kodokan Judo black belt. Clarence Chang, a master of Sil-lum Pai kung fu. And Adriano D. Emperado, a Kara-Ho Kenpo black belt and Escrima master.
KAJU FUK'N ROCKS!