I was scrolling through TikTok as I tend to on the bus home and came across some kind of strange social media star drama. Much like the KSI versus Logan Paul situation, this one was two OnlyFans content creators shouting at each other and leading to organizing a boxing match. My question is – as it was with the Youtuber boxing – why?
I may have spoken about this before, yet is this what we are as a species? In schools, children are taught to use words not fists yet it’s becoming culturally acceptable for celebrities to beef it out in the boxing ring to settle their scores. It’s the hypocrisy of our time, violence is both loved and hated. Or perhaps it’s only loved when corporations are sponsoring. Of course, with that statement, we could talk just as easily about the war in Ukraine: violence to defend a nation from invaders; yet are we looking at that with glorification or a dutiful necessity (depending on whose side you are on, of course) compared to rich socialites knocking seven-shades of shit out of each other over a spat on Twitter.
That comparison disappoints me. Not for making it but for the implications of what it means for our attention. Celebrities slapping each other at award shows, comedians tackled for edgy laughs, and dancers on TikTok throwing sponsored punches to cheers – are we so bored? Is the world of those who are privileged so without violence that we celebrate it while schools are mined to Europe’s east, famine continues in Yemen, and jihadists pillage their way across Burkina Faso carrying a very strange definition of divinity.
It’s a fundamentally first world problem that we’ve seen before. Even Seneca questioned the point of the gladiator pits, much preferring a good romp or dinner party to solve his problems. I read somewhere that humans, by their nature as the apex predators of Earth are naturally violent and territorial but surely over the last several thousand years of human history we can see that the blooming of art, culture and science happens best in peacetime. Sure you can make the argument that we wouldn’t have nuclear power if it wasn’t for the Manhattan Project but did we need the bomb to land on Hiroshima to get to that conclusion? Marie Curie’s work would have been continued into radioactivity and energy regardless of the production of weapons of mass destruction or not.
Just this morning, being the last to know about these things, I hear that a former Love Island/boxer, Tommy Fury, has beaten YouTuber, Jake Paul, in the ring. The commentators were going wild and I felt a little left out as I had no idea what the appeal was. Yet, perhaps, I’m a hypocrite. I grew up on the hyper-violence of films like Kill Bill, Silence of the Lambs, and even kids shows that glorified punching like The Batman. I loved them all and still do. Ultimately, then, is it entirely pointless to question our violent nature? Seneca himself committed violence with words with intent to harm within his politics and praised shrewd statesmen who would make Machiavelli blush.
Where’s the line then, I wonder. As a collective, where do we think the line should be for enjoying the spectacle of violence? Should it stop just after the next episode of The Last of Us and before watching first hand someone get sucker punched on the train when travelling through Doncaster? Or should we commit to a world where we exist entirely in the land of Stardew Valley where everyone is nice and we grow plants and give each other conch shells.
It’s such a shame that I’m boring myself just thinking about it.