For those of you who missed out on the Celebrity Boxing match on Fox the other night, I can't decide if I envy or pity you. I read a blurb in Time about it and they made the argument that it was definitely one of these things you watch as a guilty pleasure, but the pleasure this particular showing gave didn't quite outweigh the guilt. Another headline (from the NY Times) read: "Fox TV Finds Another Way to Sink to Top of the Charts."
I'll give you the quick run down: the dude from the Brady Bunch waddles out and gets his ass kicked by the dude from the Partidge Family. Watching an overweight 47 year old trip over himself several times while getting hit in the face by what might be considered the sloppiest boxer I've ever seen (until the next match of the show) was sad, but entertaining. I laughed.
Then came Vanilla "Bi-Polar" Ice vs. Willis from Different Strokes. I'm not sure what was more of a spectical: Vanilla Ice, all tattooed up trying to look tough, Willis -- looking like he's on some serious drugs -- with the huge casino .com add branded on his back, or the fighting itself. Willis just kind of lumbered around trying to look tough while Mr. Ice danced around, bobbing and weaving, trying to look confident. What was immediately obvious was that they were both very much out of shape and they quickly tired. When things did actually happen, here's how it went: an exhausted Vanilla would launch his whole body into the slowest sissy punch you've ever seen. I mean, he's taller than Willis so he's got the reach. But he'd be standing four feet from the guy, so he'd throw a punch and dive across the mat behind it to try and get it to Willis' head. When it would get there, Willis would just take it and wonder if he felt a draft or something. They were that wimpy. This would leave Mr. Ice off balance and over extended and now within range to a pudgy Willis who would, after moments of stupor, decide he was angry and then pummel the living shit out of the skinny white guy. It was sad.
At this point I began to feel a little dirty. I mean, there was just something not right about this whole event. It became aparent that the ref's only job was to keep the fight going. He wasn't really dealing with things in a manner that suggested he was looking for a good clean fight, but rather, to ensure that no one got too hurt and that, by all means, each match last 3 rounds. Brady boy threw in the towel after 2 minutes. Ice Ice baby managed to go all three rounds. But it really became aparent that the ref was interested in longevity when the girls got in the ring, and that's when the guilt part of the guilty pleasure of watching this charade started to cloud any pleasure that could be derived from leaving the tv on.
Tonia Harding is buff. She's obviously fit and, what's more, she's bitter. Paula Jones, known to us all as that chick that said Clinton hit on her or something while he was still Govenor of Arkansas, might go for a morning jog 3 times a week, but that's about it. She wasn't lean. She wasn't by any stretch of the imagination mean. Tonia didn't need the crowbar this time, though I was interested to see if she was going to ask for a do-over because her laces weren't tied right.
When the two of them got in the ring they actually boxed for a minute or so before Harding gave Jones a righteous pounding, after which she quickly decided that she didn't want to do this any more. As soon as Harding would step in to hit her she'd turn her head away and cringe, despite having big padded helmet thingies that covered their faces. And it just got worse. She'd be coaxed by the ref to step back into the fray, which she would do reluctantly in anticpation of getting hit again. As soon as the ref would tell them to go again, Harding would step in and hit her in the back of the head as she ran around behind the ref again. Repeatedly. It made me cringe. Despite the fact that Jones was no longer throwing punches and actually running away, the fight went on. The 2nd round ended and as the 3rd began, Jones didn't even leave her corner and just looked at the ref with pleading eyes that said "please, I don't want to get hit anymore I just want to go home." The message must have been lost on Harding who just walked all the way across the mat to Jones' corner and hit her in the back of the head, again. At this point the ref called the match and we, the audience, issued a sigh of sincere relief.
It really makes me appreciate professional boxers. I don't watch boxing really, but I've seen When We Were Kings -- the documentary about Muhammed Ali vs. George Forman in Zaire as well as a few Mike Tyson bouts. This? This was what would happen in the post-apocalypse world of Mad Max. The reason why all the people in those films were so tough is because they put all the celebrity has-beens in the thunderdome and watched them kill themselves. In that world, Harding walks up behind Jones as she turns her head away and cringes and puts her trusty crowbar through her skull. Tina Turner, where are you when we need you?