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.