Why Mayweather And McGregor Are Beloved For Engaging In Bad Behavior
By: Sean Crose
America loves the pairing, but make no mistake about it – Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather behave horribly. The past few days have set me to thinking quite a bit about these two, as I’ve watched and written on the migraine headache that was their international press tour. And while I admit there was a fascinating element to it all, I found it strange that such men, McGregor in particular, are viewed as legitimate heroes.
Perhaps it’s all a backlash to the insane political correctness that has rocked the country. When students at exclusive colleges literally shut down free speech with the possible intent to take censorship nationwide, guys like Floyd and Conor can seem downright refreshing. “Mate,” McGregor once told a reporter calling him out for some prickly comments, “shut the fuck up.” Such things can be pleasing in a world where an Orwellian nightmare appears to be morphing into real life.
Yet Conor and Floyd are far from heroes saving the planet from goose stepping social justice warriors. They’re two men enthralled with bad behavior. To support these guys, to cheer on their antics, isn’t standing up to the tyranny of political correctness, it’s allowing the pendulum to swing too far the other way. Words are not, as the snowflakes tell us, acts of violence. They can hurt like hell, though, and that’s something these guys refuse to keep in mind – or even care about.
Mayweather has made some ugly statements over the years, including some particularly nasty ones regarding Manny Pacquiao’s being Asian. He’s since expressed remorse for those actions – fair enough – but his entire ho/pimp/ stripper routine during the press conferences this week bordered on scary at times. I sensed that McGregor himself was uncomfortable with it after a point, as if the master of mind games himself had finally found that it was he who was being played.
McGregor was far from a sympathetic figure during the tour, however. The man, in my opinion, knew what he was doing when he called Mayweather “boy.” He was simply seeing how far he could go. What’s more, McGregor’s actions with Showtime honcho Stephen Espinoza were truly horrifying. That’s right, horrifying. Not funny. Horrifying. Riling up a crowd of thousands, then flashing true disdain – and perhaps even a sense of violence – towards a single person isn’t cute or funny. It’s simply wrong – end of story.
By the way, McGregor’s hold on vast crowds is worth noting. Imagine, if you will, the man being a political figure rather than a sporting one. Frightened yet? With the instant aggression McGregor can suddenly summon in his enormous cult-like fan base, maybe you should be. The guy has a strange hold on people. Perhaps there are large numbers of individuals who find bad behavior liberating, who find what the Marlon Brando character in Apocalypse Now called “petty morality” stifling. If so, McGregor might be their man.
Or perhaps people just lack an empathy button and feel that McGregor and Mayweather are simply entertainers. Sure enough, some are openly saying they will pay one hundred dollars simply to be somehow engaged in a vast spectacle when the two meet for their massive, pay per view broadcast fight on August 26th. Then again, perhaps there’s something more at play here, something more sinister that says unsettling stuff about our society as a whole.
I haven’t watched pro wrestling in years, but one of the things that used to delight me about it was the characters – those over the top, cartoon figures who’d engage in all kinds of off the wall, sophomoric dramas right before our very eyes. One of the big keys to these characters was that they consistently celebrated the self. Indeed, pro wrestling was successful because it presented the art of self worship as a joke – a joke that even kids could see through, yet still enjoy. I’m guessing that still rings true with professional wrestling today. The whole freakin’ thing is satire. Mayweather and McGregor appear to have a lot in common with pro wrestlers of yore…except neither seems to be playing a part. Rather, these two appear to be, at most, employing extensions of themselves for public consumption. Each man is taking himself and his incredible success so seriously that it’s either frightening, pathetic, comical, or some combination of the three.
Yet, whether we choose to admit it or not, we as a society are taking them seriously, too. Again, this may all be a backlash to the PC crowd, which is attempting, with some serious success, to instill itself as a harsh and fearful deity to be cowed by, groveled before, and meekly obeyed. There’s even a good argument to be made that Political Correctness and the Cult of the Self are in competition to decide what society’s unofficial religion will be. If that’s the case, Mayweather and McGregor are the Cult of the Self’s Peter and Paul…except, of course, it’s doubtful either will ever settle for the role of mere apostle.
What’s easy to forget in all of this is that these are two men we’re talking about here, individuals with good and bad qualities who it would be wrong to judge in entirety. There’s no harm in judging their pubic personas, though, and seen through the prism of the past week, those personas leave much to be desired, whether they’re adored or not. That’s mainly why I’m not big on this fight – it’s all about the person rather than the contest.
Me, I’ll take the upcoming middleweight showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin over this circus anytime.