Nigel Downer is a Toronto Mainstage alum and director of The Bob Curry Fellowship Showcase.
Dear Ms. Streep,
You didn’t respond to my first open Twitter-letter contending that Mixed Martial Arts (is everyone overlooking that it’s in the name??) is as much an art form as film is, which has been a little frustrating to me. When someone doesn’t fight back in the Octagon (our version of a cage, not the Cage you faced in “Adaptation”), the ref usually calls the match. In this instance, I think you’ve beat me on both technical points and public opinion, so I’m going to try another grapple here from a different angle.
Like I told you, I’ve always been a huge fan—you’ve played tough roles in hard-hitting movies that required grit and perseverance, and I personally believe that your “Miranda Priestly” could handle herself just fine in a cage with Amanda Nunes (better than Ronda Rousey did, anyway).
However, you failed to acknowledge in your speech that art is subjective, and the same personal expression and kaleidoscope of beauty that helps define art can also be found in the lethal techniques and deep bruises executed by every one of my fighters.
Why is the image of a Herculean man slipping out of an arm bar, losing position, and walking right into a neck-crushing guillotine chokehold considered any less beautiful than Michelangelo’s “David”? I can’t even imagine a more evocative image than a bulging hematoma on a meaty dude’s forehead.
I do realize that from an outside perspective, the MMA medium might be infinitely more traumatizing, visceral and meaningless when compared to your typical theatrical or gallery experience…which is why I’d like to tell you about some bold, brave, award-worthy new projects composed in the key of blood sport.
Original body fluid landscapes!
Did you know that for certain charity events, we’ve been lining the mats with canvas? I swear to god, you put a couple pints of saliva and blood-spatter underneath two juggernauts, and you’ve got a Jackson Pollack painting, but sweatier.
Our Shakespearean threat collective!
Mixed Martial Arts means constantly adapting and incorporating new techniques to battle weaknesses. Shakespeare was the original fight coordinator, and our scene studies have helped us incorporate defenses against swords, regicide, ear-poison, being baked into a pie…you name it.
And don’t forget every second Thursday of the month!
That’s when Joe Rogan poses nude for art students during his podcast and demands they eat sushi off him afterwards. Classic Joe, really great stuff.
All I’m saying is I’d appreciate it if you kept an open mind about the definition of “artist,” and please don’t be so quick to judge. Besides, you don’t see me coming down to your place of work and telling Sophie which child to choose, or whatever. (By the way, if you’re interested, we’re working on a gorgeous new gogoplata technique to help you come out on top next time you’re in that situation. Sequel, maybe?)
CEO of Bellator MMA
Steve Hobbs is a Toronto-based actor, comedian and writer.