By Zach Arnold | June 2, 2011
What became a sideshow at UFC 130 this past weekend in Las Vegas has now turned into a full-blown media circus on a lot of levels. If you have not read my post on what happened in Vegas over the weekend, read it. I am referring to the two media incidents that have drawn a lot of internal fire. The first and most publicly known controversy is the interview Karyn Bryant posted online featuring Rampage Jackson flirting with her. The second controversy is drawing a lot of mockery in various quarters because an MMA writer was bragging about going to fighter after-parties after the UFC 130 event.
Both controversies are now increasing tensions amongst different constituencies.
First, let’s focus on the Karyn Bryant matter. It’s ridiculous on all levels. After the video of her interview with Rampage played on Jimmy Kimmel, it has become the talk in female journalistic circles. To try to clarify her stance on various matters related to the interview, Karyn did an interview with Steve Cofield of ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas/Cagewriter.com.
“Well, certainly I understand the point that, you know, a woman shouldn’t be put in a position to feel uncomfortable when she’s interviewing a male athlete, I totally understand. But I think we’re supposed to be allowed to set our parameters and boundaries and what those are and my comfort level might be very different from another woman. Doesn’t make me right and her wrong or vice versa. I understand that, you know, I understand when people say, hey, an athlete shouldn’t cross this line and be suggestively suggestive because the person is just trying to do their job and find out about, you know, the game or whatever. But in the case of somebody like Rampage, we all know Rampage loves to bust and do jokes and that’s why everybody lines up to interview him because everybody wants those funny, crazy sound bytes from him because people enjoy them. You know what has made that guy so popular is also, I guess, what makes him ‘dangerous’ in an interview sometimes.”
Suffice to say, this answer has not gone over well with fellow female journalists online.
“I don’t think we should all be treated so preciously. I mean, I have a couple of issues because now I feel like there’s certain, you know, female reporters who are offended by this and who completely are entitled to be so, but now it’s like there’s this unwritten rule that I was supposed to be really offended because I’m a female journalist and, you know, there’s rules and, you know, I’m not supposed to be okay with that because we women have fought real hard to get into the locker room and if you stop for a minute to be okay with that kind of joke, well, now you’re bringing us all down and I just don’t think that’s fair, you know.”
What’s interesting about this response is that Bryant & Rampage continued to… flirt?… on Twitter a few days after the interview. Karyn told Rampage that she was a married woman but that if her man would let her ‘creep’ that maybe Rampage could date her. Imagine the kind of
shitstorm an ESPN female reporter would get for saying that on Twitter.
By the way, don’t think that Karyn isn’t drawing legitimate heat for the interview and the aftermath. She is and, right now, that pressure isn’t very comfortable.
“It’s really odd because… I don’t try to speak for other women and stuff like that and for fear of this being like opening the floodgates for me to just get, you know, truly assaulted in an interview, I hope that doesn’t really happen but in this case I thought it was a playful joke, he never touched me and I was okay with it.
“I thought it was funny, you know. It’s a really odd position to be in because I don’t, um, you know I don’t want to draw the fire of other female reporters because certainly some awful things have happened to them and that’s not fair and it’s not okay and by me saying this interview is okay it certainly does not condone it for everybody and every situation, but in this case… I don’t think it was a big deal.”
If you don’t believe that there is big concern that the Rampage interview re-enforced some stereotypes about whether or not women should be covering MMA (or be ‘put in their place’), well… yeah, there is growing concern.
“Certainly a lot of people say that, yeah, you know the women aren’t supposed to be there any way… I haven’t done Playboy spreads, there are no pictures of me with a tramp stamp in a bikini doing whatever, I have done nothing but act in a credible manner throughout my career and I’ve had some great jobs at some very, you know, well-respected places and so it is kind of shocking to me that some people are saying in this one fell swoop, you know, there goes all my credibility and all this stuff and I’m bringing it down and, yeah, just proving that, you know, women shouldn’t be doing this kind of thing. It’s really unbelievable to me.”
If you want an interesting side note about the Rampage interview, here’s one for you. Karyn told Steve that her husband is the one who shoots the video interviews and that if her hubby had gotten angry & stepped in to stop the interview during Rampage’s antics that she would would (figuratively-speaking) torched her man for interfering in the interview process.
I bring all of this up because there are two interesting developments tonight that I want you to read closely.
- Brent Brookhouse: Rampage Jackson and the MMA Community’s attitude towards women
- Cage Potato: So I guess we’re not going to talk about Joe Rogan calling a female MMA writer ‘Cunty’?
Rogan’s comments are out of line, period. What makes them stupid is that The UG is a forum that UFC has lots of sway with now. This is not some media site where the UFC can claim plausible deniability in regards to their fighters and employees posting on. Of course they post there.
Not only did Rogan make that dumb remark, but he did it against someone who works for Yahoo. Now, don’t get me wrong — Yahoo is UFC central and we know the politics. With that said, you can’t expect an outlet like that to sit idly by and eat the proverbial turd sandwich. If they do, then: a) shame on them and b) it shows how little respect they have for a female writer they employ. In either scenario, someone ends up a big loser. I would think for Yahoo’s sake, in terms of self preservation, that they will step up and defend their writer from Rogan’s dumb remark.
Think about the slurs that have been hurled at female journs by UFC men. If they used racial slurs as regularly would they still have jobs?
The crazy part about the Loretta video was that he made a public apology for using the anti-gay slur but not for using anti-female slurs and he was talking to a WOMAN.
When I go running & a guy yells a slur at me, I flip him off & move on. When they’re in a position of power & making a lot of $ & still allowed to act like this, there is something wrong with society.
But wait, there’s more. A lot more.
A lot of the sexist remarks made towards women in MMA is old hat. However, ‘old hat’ is not a valid excuse for the practice to continue. Banning women from Augusta National as far as reporters goes because ‘that’s the way it’s always been’ is not a valid reason. The end result is that we do have female reporters there now, albeit with some highly-publicized struggles lately.
An even older criticism of the MMA media is just how (generally) sycophantic and ass-kissing it is in nature. Yeah, well, what’s new there, right? As I’ve learned over the many, many, many years I’ve been an MMA writer, it’s never the big events that stir up controversy but always the little, goofy events that trigger long-held pent-up emotions from disgruntled writers who see just how bad the media environment looks right now.
Last weekend at UFC 130, an MMA writer wrote on Twitter about how they were going to hang out and do the party scene with fighters after the show was over. To say that this went over like a ripe fart in church would be a grand understatement. Normally, I am a very isolated person as far as talking to other MMA writers. Sure, I may be approached online with a quick comment here and there, but I do not hang out with writers. I’m not in Las Vegas. I’ve never needed to socialize or schmooze with anyone to write the articles that I write. I didn’t need to schmooze with people to cover the implosion of PRIDE from it’s yakuza scandal. I wrote the story and let the chips fall where they may. Isn’t that what writers are supposed to do? I always felt that I was in the minority in that regard. However, my mailbox and phone has been littered with messages from many media writers who are disgusted with what they see playing out and how everything has basically turned into Entertainment Tonight. Actually, that’s an insult to ET. My apologies.
Not that I’m terribly surprised or anything by these developments. I was the one who, many years ago, predicted that what we are seeing today is exactly what would happen. I was asked by one of the old-time readers on this site if the media would shift away from the lazy conference call/infotainment format and I said no, not a chance. There’s not enough money to be made being honest and until someone proves that they can do that, UFC has no one to fear. They may fear Josh Gross for scooping them on stories like Strikeforce assets getting sold to Zuffa, but not much else.
Truth be told, UFC loves the position they are in now. A niche sport that makes good money but has none of the baggage that bigger professional sports leagues have to deal with in regards to media scrutiny on many levels.
So, with the social scenesters populating the MMA media for UFC 130, it led to this discussion this past Tuesday on Bloody Elbow Radio with Matt Bishop and crew. The comments made here tie in the media writer/pool partier and the issue of women (or lack of perceived power for women) in MMA.
“Well, what gets me is that, you know, the public face of the company is Dana White and, to a lesser degree, Lorenzo Fertitta but, you know, a big majority of the staff at the UFC is women, you know? There’s women in prominent roles all over that company and… they don’t really seem to have any kind of say in matters like that. You think they would but they really don’t, it’s interesting, it’s not ran very professionally. I mean, God, you look at, just look at the reporters that are at the MMA shows and, like, look at their Twitter feeds and stuff. I mean, they talk about hanging out with the fighters and like going to pool parties and after parties. I mean, it’s amateur hour all the way around, really. I’m not sure why anybody’s surprised by that but I mean you got the people from Heavy MMA talking about how they’re bros with, like, Joseph Benavidez and like they’re going to the Team Alpha Male after-party and we’re going to live it up and it’s just like, I mean you can’t expect really good professional behavior from people who treat their job not as a job, not as something to report the facts but as a gigantic social gathering and a social party to get their names out there and have fun and get themselves over, sort of speak. It’s not about reporting on the event, it’s about like being a part of the in-crowd or, you know, being the cool kids, sort of speak. That’s what the majority of what the MMA media seems occupied with as opposed to actual reporting. I think Luke Thomas said that, too, like he went to an event recently (UFC 129). … One of the things he said was he was just taken aback by the absolute kind of party culture that surrounds MMA reporting and like he was like, you know what, I don’t care about hanging out with Urijah Faber, I don’t care about going to some after party at some hideous club, I don’t care about having my picture taken by Tracy Lee and put all over that horrible web site. All I care about is my site and hits and people reading my material, that’s what I’m interested in and that mentality is not shared by most members of the MMA media and that’s quite unfortunate.”
“Yeah, it’s… a weird little subculture that it’s evolved into and I completely with Luke, you know, I’m there to do my job, I’m there to report on the event or report on whatever is happening. I’m not there to get myself over or, you know, become a celebrity or, you know, party with the fighters or, you know, be friends with the fighters, you know. I am there to do a job and so that’s why stuff like this, you know, upsets me and then, you know, again, besides that is the whole thing with Rampage (Jackson) where it’s becoming, you know, a pattern, you know, it’s an absolute pattern at this point and… it seems like that there’s not going to be anything done about it and that to me is a huge black mark.”
“Well, what about not only the pre-fight interviews with (Ariel) Helwani which I found way over the line where he liked stepped to Ariel like he was about to hit him. The post-fight interview where, you know, without saying as much it’s basically like a 10 minute long gay joke at the expense of Ariel Helwani, you know, saying that he’s not a Alpha male and this and this and this and I think he actually said that like Ariel Helwani likes men and things like that and, you know, I’m just watching that just cringing like, ‘Wow, this is where we are, this is where we are.’ … You know, I don’t think that a beat writer for the Miami Heat is going to talk to Dirt Nowitski and have, you know, Dirk Nowitski kind of intimate that he’s gay for asking him the question about how he posted up LeBron James in the third quarter. Now, I don’t think that’s going to happen but it happens in MMA and, you know, maybe it will change, maybe it will won’t, but whatever.”
“It’s low rent.”
“It’s low rent, but what are you going to do?”
The only thing you can ask for is for the spotlight to brighten. It is starting to. I would encourage MMA writers who are disgruntled about the way things are playing out to no longer be silent. Stop living in fear. You aren’t going to be treated any better by those more powerful than you because you kiss ass. If anything, you’ll be looked down upon even more.
Rampage Jackson on Twitter talking about Maggie Hendricks:
@Jennifer_SwifT @maggiehendricks it’s ok hun no need to bash @rampage4real I am sure @KarynBryant will give you a turn. 1:59 PM Jun 1st via web
@Jennifer_SwifT nope,I bet she’s ass ugly! 3:42 PM Jun 1st via Twitter for BlackBerry® in reply to Jennifer_SwifT
Joe Rogan kinda, sorta double downs with a half-assed apology:
Never did I imagine that so many people would get their panties in a bunch about the use of the word “
cunty” to describe a female blogger, but in this “gotcha” era of online “journalism” we find ourselves in any controversy that can be exploited to fill headlines and pad mandatory blog obligations will be pursued to the extreme.
My use of the word “
cunty” in retrospect was unfortunate, and more of a symptom of my stand up comic vernacular than what more verbally conservative people would interpret the word as. “ Cunty” is just another word for bitchy.
It means exactly the same thing to me, it’s just that “
cunty” sounds better and is more fun to use.
The term “
bitchy” to describe the style of the writer in question and her take on things is both accurate and appropriate.
The sport of Mixed Martial Arts is fairly new, and one of the very first sports to be supported and defined by new media. We have an extraordinary amount of websites dedicated to the sport, and in the dark days of being exiled from cable television these sites (including the one I’m posting this on, mixedmartialarts.com) helped keep this sport alive.
Now that the sport is incredibly popular and thriving however, we’ve reached this saturation point where anyone with a website that writes about this sport wants to be considered a “journalist.” People that 20 years ago wouldn’t have a shot in hell at a career in writing are now demanding to be taken seriously with their snarky, poorly thought out offerings.
This sport is infested with these people, and what they’re going to have to realize is that if they want to be writers and they want their stuff to be read and ingested than they themselves must become public figures in the process, and that includes being
shiton for what you put out there. The illusion of anonymity and a lack of repercussions available to the subjects of your work is a thing of the past.
Writers should expect to be openly critiqued and criticized online by anyone any everyone, because guess what – those people writing forum posts shitting on your work are just as much a legit “journalist” as any of these website people.
My apologies to Maggie Hendricks for calling her “
cunty,” and I truly hope I didn’t hurt her feelings. My forum post was honest and off the cuff, and I didn’t think out the possible reactions to it. I don’t know the woman, and I’m sure she’s probably a nice person in real life, but if I have a point with any of this it’s that when you put negative shitout there in the form of bitchy blog posts, that shit is going to come right back at you, and you better not be surprised.
Naturally, the online forum reaction to this is to continue to attack Maggie Hendricks and defend Rogan’s comments. Ironic that he would use the term he did since his online following resembles that of a sausage party.
A veteran commenter from our site (I’ll let him identify himself if he wants to here) posted this on the UG:
My band was playing a show in LA a couple months back and I called someone in the crowd a “pussy” as a joke and some girl hit me up after the show saying she was offended as a woman. I was pretty flabbergasted and my girlfriend was right there with me. No words are safe anymore…people need to lighten up. And I’m not some brash dude who says f—– and b—- on stage….I’m pretty careful with my words. I was legitimately surprised that pussy is on some people’s no no list now.
Cuntyis a great word, btw.