Why Kimbo Matters: A Meditation on Kevin Ferguson
Kevin Ferguson, the Florida streetfighter known as Kimbo Slice, will join the cast of TUF, Season 10, which begins filming next Monday, in Las Vegas.
Why do we care?
He’s not a great fighter, that’s for sure, but this is America, where one’s cultural significance is not determined by merit, nor by the quality of music your band produces, nor the aesthetic rigor of the movie you produce, but rather by how many people are watching, listening, or, in the language that has come to define the internet: by how many hits you get.
Ten years from now, very few people will talk about Matt Hughes and Randy Couture, or Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre. Their place within the broad paradigm of American history will be relegated to the sports section.
Not so with Kimbo Slice.
Fifty years from now, the David Halberstam of the day will write the definitive history of the internet—up to that point, of course—and it will contain a small but spicy chapter on Kimbo Slice, America’s first viral athlete, a man who transitioned from backyard to big-time, solely on the basis of YouTube hits.
Is it fair? No, probably not. The other heavyweights in the Ultimate Fighter house will never acquire Kimbo’s cultural currency, even the kid who eventually kicks his ass, which is inevitable, if you believe Dana White, who isn’t exactly a believer in Kimbo the fighter.
Is it ethical? Questionably. The guy became a millionaire by beating the crap out of thugs (one of whom appears to be mentally disabled) in parking lots and backyards, while his friends (some of whom are rumored to be pornographers), armed with their cell-phone cameras, cheered him on like the greasers in West Side Story.
Fairness and ethics don’t seem to phase us.
I’m a child of the internet. I like fighting. I like pornography. I like Kimbo Slice.
And I’m gonna watch every episode of TUF, Season 10—at least until Kimbo gets knocked out by some one who’ll be working at a Dairy Queen in five years.
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