After starring as series main stay Sonya Blade in the recently released Mortal Kombat 11, the decision to cast Ronda Rousey has come under fire by the video game news site Kotaku due to certain controversial comments made in the past by Rousey.
On May 1st, Kotaku published an article titled “Ronda Rousey Being In Mortal Kombat 11 Is Bullshit”, in which staff writer Heather Alexandria takes issue with Rousey’s casting in Mortal Kombat 11 (MK11):
Ronda Rousey: Trailblazer, UFC Hall of Famer, and WWE star. Ah, I forgot a couple of her accomplishments: She shared an inflammatory conspiracy video about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre to her millions of Twitter followers and made transmisogynistic and outright asinine comments about transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox. And as of Mortal Kombat 11, she’s the voice of iconic character Sonya Blade. Let’s take a moment to consider how messed up that is.
Alexandria claims to take issue with two specific issues regarding Rousey. The first was her posting of a video which promoted the ‘Sandy Hook Truther’ conspiracy theory:
In 2013, Rousey shared a conspiracy video regarding the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed 26 lives, including 20 children. The video suggested the massacre was a hoax carried out by the government. When called out about it, Rousey started by doubling down.
Most fans agree that Rousey’s views on Sandy Hook, which are firmly rooted in conspiracy theory, are indefensible and insulting to survivors of the shooting (fan backlash to these comments led to Rousey deleting the initial Tweet and issuing an apology through both her Facebook page and her manager, Darin Harvey). However, though Kotaku presently takes issue with her personal views regarding the attack, the same comments did not prevent the website from writing an article, following Holly Holm’s now famous knock-out victory over Rousey, which not only showered Rousey with glowing praise two years after she shared the video, but also failed to mention Rousey’s views on Sandy Hook.
The other issue which Alexandria takes offense with is Rousey’s comments regarding Fallon Fox, the first transgender MMA fighter, fighting in a women’s division:
Take her comments regarding Fallon Fox. Fox is the first transgender MMA fighter in the sport’s history. She had undergone sex reassignment surgery in 2006 but received pushback against the idea that she could fight against other women. […] “She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has,” Rousey told The New York Post. “It’s an advantage. I don’t think it’s fair.”
While the debate over the competitive fairness of allowing transgender athletes to compete against biological members of a given sex, Rousey’s viewpoint is far from unusual or extreme. Earlier this year, USA Powerlifting banned trans women from competing as women due to “Transgender male to female individuals having gone through male puberty confer an unfair competitive advantage over non-transgender females due to increased bone density and muscle mass from pubertal exposure to testosterone.” Olympian Sharron Davies, MBE, recently spoke out against a transgender woman breaking multiple Masters world records for women’s weightlifting, stating that “This is a trans woman a male body with male physiology setting a world record & winning a woman’s event in America in powerlifting. A woman with female biology cannot compete. It’s a pointless unfair playing field.” During a US Congressional hearing regarding the Equality Act, Duke University law professor Doriane Lambelet Coleman said “With respect, it is accepted, beyond dispute, that males and females are materially different with respect to the main physical attributes that contribute to athletic performance.” This particular topic is the center of many a heated debate, and while Alexandria may disagree with Rousey’s stance, her rebuttal to Rousey amounts to a suggestion that Rousey “could have behaved like less of a jackass,” rather than offering any sort of evidential or even anecdotal counter-argument.
Rousey is not the bigoted monster Kotaku attempts to paint her as, but instead exists as a human being with opinions and beliefs that may differ from generally accepted schools of thought, even an unpopular belief that has been damaging to survivors of a devastating school shooting. The level of outrage surrounding Rousey and MK11 appears to be artificially manufactured, a concept Kotaku themselves commented on in their article praising Rousey:
If you don’t like Rousey’s personality, fine. That is completely, 100 percent cool, and I cannot blame you. Honestly, there are times when I don’t like her personality. She’s said some contentious-ass shit, some of which has been almost gleefully ill-informed. But going from “whoa she’s the most badass lady to ever live” to “she was shit all along” overnight? That’s the very definition of fickleness, and disliking her personally isn’t a great reason to do it.
But I’m not really surprised. Rousey—again unlike any MMA fighter before her (at least, outside of Japan)—straddles the line between mega-popular fighter and bonafide celebrity. There is, in both cases, a documented pattern of fans leaping from bandwagons like they’re aboard sinking fucking Titanics, almost always when a fighter or celebrity reveals their deepest, darkest secret: that they’re human, just like everyone else. A celebrity might age or say the wrong thing (something worthy of critique, certainly, but not abandonment or hate). And a fighter? Well, they lose. (Or, you know, they get popped for being a juiced-to-the-gills steroid balloon, but that’s not really relevant here.)
What do you make of Kotaku’s attack on Ronda Rousey?