Pop Culture Recap- How to Cheer for Criminals in Sports, and TV has Gotten Really Good

1. This past week news broke that light-heavyweight champ and UFC star/Reebok athlete/Golden Boy Jon Jones was involved in a hit and run accident. In this case, the “run” actually means run, as he was last seen grabbing a wad of cash out of his wrecked rental car and then sprinting away from the scene. I assume he made sure his Reeboks were fully pumped before taking off. Police also found drugs at the scene of the crime. This latest event occurs only a short time after Jones was fined and briefly entered rehab after testing positive for cocaine before his title fight with Daniel Cormier.

Jones is the latest in a long string of high-profile athletes from major American sports to find themselves in legal trouble. I don’t feel like wasting my breath talking about the NFL, but it’s been a rough year for sporting role models.

Our society seems torn on whether we should separate personal life and athletic achievements in professional sports.

Some we can’t. Michael Vick will never be able to distance himself from his past. Others like Charles Barkley, Ray Lewis and Shawn Merriman have free passes. The jury is still out on Ray Rice, Lance Armstrong, and countless others.

Notice I’m lumping a bunch of different crimes together there. I really don’t know how to treat this topic.

The NFL obviously doesn’t know either.

Maybe I’m over analyzing the issue.  These are modern-day gladiators who are paid to be violent. I suppose we don’t need to like them or even approve of the things they’ve done as long as they sufficiently entertain us.

Which brings us to this week’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

floyd-mayweather-vs-manny-pacquiao-will-happen-in-2015

The biggest match of the past 15 years has resulted in boxing coming under an equally large magnifying glass.

Boxing has a legit claim to the title of “dirtiest mainstream sport”. (Well, this sport could give it a run for its money)

The mob has been involved from the get-go. The sport’s most famous promoter murdered someone (possibly multiple people) and defrauded every big name fighter he represented. The famous 1964 Ali-Liston was investigated by the FBI for being fixed. Mike Tyson beat women and bit ears off. Name a fighter and there’s a good chance they’ve been accused or convicted of a crime.

Boxing has gradually slipped onto the back-burner in American sports,at least in non-hispanic circles, but with this fight it has been launched back into mainstream consciousness. (for maybe the last time)

Before fighting De La Hoya, Mayweather decided to change his image towards that of the heel. The bad boy persona has paid off, and Floyd is now the wealthiest athlete in the world. But he seems to have embraced his ring persona in other ways.

Over the past 10 years his troubled personal life has repeatedly reared its ugly head. This week many were calling for boycotts of the fight. After all, Mayweather has been involved in 7 domestic violence complaints. At this point its safe to say that he’s a serial woman beater.

So yeah, that’s disgusting.

In response, many on social media have sided with the “good guy” in the fight, Manny Pacquiao. But Pacquiao isn’t untainted. He’s a tax evader and an admitted adulterer. He’s also fought to get rid of sex education and contraception in the Philippines, where HIV rates are skyrocketing.

So who or what sets our moral compass; that by which we judge athletes and choose who to cheer for?

Maybe publicly expressed remorse? Of course, I’ve hardly ever heard of an athlete coming out of the blue and apologizing for something that they weren’t accused of. Lance Armstrong and Ryan Braun, among others, waited until there were no other options left before admitting guilt.

Imagine if we had a current clean-slated athlete schedule a press conference to admit drug use. That’ll be the day.

Predictions

I’d like Mayweather to lose, but this fight means too much to his legacy and money-making potential. I betted on Mayweather for the early win, and also picked Manny getting knocked down.  Mayweather is just too unstoppable with his timing and quick rights.

I’m sure a minimum of 7 women can vouch for that.


2. TV Shows- Since getting injured I’ve found myself with more free time than usual, so I decided to catch up on some of the series that people have been raving about. The past month I’ve binge watched season 1 of True Detective, seasons 1-5 of Game of Thrones, and season 1 of Better Call Saul.

As Hollywood continues to move away from movies of substance in lieu of simplified big budget movies with global appeal, actors are making the jump to the small screen like never before. TV used to be the place someone like Shatner ended up after washing out of Hollywood, but now it’s become the new indie (albeit with much bigger paychecks).

Cary Fukunaga’s True Detective might be the prettiest looking show I’ve ever watched. Throw in a great score from T-Bone Burnett and an incredible role from McConaughey, and you have a recipe for success. The ending was pretty weak, but other than that I really enjoyed the southern goth vibe, as well as the existential philosophical musings of doomed men (which many female critics felt unimpressed by). I also can’t wait for Fukunaga’s upcoming IT adaption.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to begin watching Game of Thrones given my love for Lord of the Rings, but I’m glad I finally got involved. The pacing and character development could be better, and the mandatory HBO soft-core porn scenes keep me from showing it to my dad, (or watching it in public, for that matter) but other than that I really enjoyed it.

Previews for Better Call Saul lent the show a gimmicky cash-grab feel, but I should have known better than to doubt Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. Their story-telling is once again top-notch. I’ve always maintained that “dark comedy” was code for “poorly written,” and I’ve never liked Bob Odenkirk, but this show is actually flat-out funny.  They still rely on unnecessary conflict and their “gangster” dialogue sounds like it was written by people who have never met a minority (which there may be some truth to). But overall, it’s one of the most satisfying shows I’ve ever watched (right behind The Office). I also found myself more emotionally attached to the main characters than I was to anyone in Breaking Bad.

Unfortunately, now I feel that typical post-binge disorientation where I feel as if I’ve lost a loved one. Any ideas for new shows would be greatly appreciated!


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