Football and MMA aren’t forms of art?

The Golden Globe Awards were last night and if you’ve launched any social media or culture outlet today you probably know about Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.  She spoke on the geographically diverse talent pool in Hollywood and that if they were kicked out, “…we’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

Sure, athletic competition is certainly not a fine (high) art form (painting, pottery, sculpting, architecture, music, opera, theatre, poetry).  The activity itself, though, is a performing art as much as dance.  Moreover, as televised football and mixed martial arts are very much part of the visual arts (photography, film, video, digital media), I argue that the representation of these athletic experiences, especially with an audience, is artful in their own voyeuristic physics-at-work ways.  Sanctioned body trauma and sometimes in slow motion. Sweat ricochets, inertia observed, crash-test dummy whooshes, and it is a wonder why some of us like to watch adults inflict physical pain onto each other for entertainment.*


And now for some other performing arts that is just as athletic but without all the violence.


*Of course, NFL Films changed profoundly how we think about football game play vis-a-vis how we see it.

5 thoughts on “Football and MMA aren’t forms of art?

  1. Kavitha

    I think she should have thought through that comment more carefully. Agree with your depiction of sports and football. When I heard that, I immediately thought: wait, what a bout pretty much every anime ever made that incorporates some version of martial arts: Naruto, Rurouni Kenshin, Inuyasha. The list is endless, right? And all of the movies not to mention. It always sits badly with me when people try to define what is art, what is not art. Since George Michael is still fresh in my mind, he once said “how can you not realize that the elation of a good pop record is an art form?” and even talked about it as our only daily, moving art form. Or what is good vs. trash literature. I don’t think any one person gets to decide that for the whole: it’s in the eye of the beholder.

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      There are still debates around what is a game and not a sport (when does a game become a sport), accepting that athletic arts is more than dance and ice skating will take a long time and likely be just as debated.

  2. Christopher

    Ce qu’est l’art est dans le regard de celui qui le contemple. C’est-à-dire, l’art est dans les yeux qui regardent.

    While Meryl Streep’s words about football and mixed martial arts told us nothing about football or mixed martial arts, they did tell us something about…………Meryl Streep.

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      Tu as raison. Would Meryl Streep consider rhythmic gymnastics to be art? Possibly. Would she consider archery or fencing to be art? One could argue that when it comes to (competitive) spectator sports and athletic activities aside from dance, if one isn’t creating something, there is reluctance to consider that athletic display to be an art form. Televised sports are visual art forms because there is production and reproduction happening simultaneously.

      But, once upon a time, the technology wasn’t there to record recitations of poetry or theatre performances. So, being able to make a “copy” of an art event isn’t a prequisite.

  3. Ajuan

    I really do agree, I think football players and martial artists are definitely artists in their own right! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s