Late last year, the lure of Hollywood came calling for Gina Carano. Though she was one of the brightest rising stars in MMA — not just female MMA, but MMA in general — she decided to forsake her undefeated record and career momentum, signing on to star as “Crush” on NBC’s remake of American Gladiators. Metaphorically speaking, she gave it up to the first guy with a flashy car and a slick pick-up line.
It was tragic, for a number of reasons. Carano’s been a role model to untold numbers of young women, proving that you can retain your femininity while still being tough-as-nails, but she’s taken a hiatus from fighting to suit up in Spandex and do silly things above pools of water. In other words, she’s reinforcing the idea, held by too many young Americans, that doing stupid shit on national TV has more value than doing something worthwhile in relative obscurity.
I’m sure part of the reason Carano took the Gladiators role, besides the money, was to promote herself as viable television talent; if not acting roles, Carano could surely score hosting gigs post-AG for shows in the vein of Fear Factor or Wild On. The problem is, in all the press and promo clips we’ve seen for the show, Carano’s name is rarely mentioned. Instead she’s just “Crush,” a Gladiator, a Warrior; she’s occasionally identified as some sort of pro fighter, though her legitimate MMA pedigree is never discussed. Any hopes that her presence on the show would be a good thing for MMA should by now be deflated.
So when I see this clip of her on The Today Show this morning, standing next to a ridiculous man-beast named “Wolf,” half-naked in 40-degree weather, being swatted with a pugel stick by Ann Curry, getting chastised by Matt Lauer for getting too rough with another NBC fluff-piece reporter, and having to deal with Meredith Viera’s minstrel dress-up antics (the housewives love that shit), I just hope that they’re paying her enough to deal with this humiliation. And I hope that diehard “Beautiful Disaster” fans take her back when the guy with the flashy car and pickup line moves on to the next pretty face…
(Thanks to 5oz. for the heads-up.)