The porn star Jenna Jameson, now a 36-year-old mother of 13-month-old twins, was never trained to hit anybody or to defend herself from being hit.
Her boyfriend Tito Ortiz, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound damage artist, is a former light heavyweight Ultimate Fighting champ. (Ultimate Fighting is like boxing, except you use every part of your body to almost kill the other guy, not just your fists.) It isn’t hard to imagine that someone who devotes his life to getting good at a sport like that, and who owns a company called “Punishment Athletics,” might have self-control problems, might not know how to contain his inner turmoil without channeling it into violence.
But why did Ortiz (allegedly) hit Jameson this week in their Huntington Beach home, within crying distance of their baby boys?
According to news reports, it was Jameson’s father who called 911 to report the domestic disturbance. Jenna Jameson’s Father Dials 911: An opera for the fringe festival we call our culture! Jameson appearing on TMZ wearing an arm brace, singing out her feelings of love and betrayal, is an aria in itself. But it’s not a joke. It’s not even the only very recent, headline-grabbing instance of a high-profile athlete assaulting a woman.
I think Tito Ortiz’s next cage-match opponent should be Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers quarterback with the doughy, harmless-looking face certainly deserves to get slapped around a little. Roethlisberger recently received a several-game suspension, to be enforced during the upcoming NFL season, because a 20-year-old woman from Georgia signed a complaint in early March accusing him of sexually assaulting her in a club. The local DA wouldn’t prosecute, claiming that there wasn’t sufficient evidence in the case. But I have a hard time believing Roethlisberger doesn’t deserve to be put on trial. “Missing games will be devastating for me,” Roethlisberger said in a statement last Monday. Although his statement failed to mention the young woman who essentially accused him of raping her, I’m sure she’s very sorry that Ben will have to miss a few football games. The smokinggun.com has a copy of the woman’s handwritten description of her encounter with the big-shot QB, and there’s something upsetting about seeing her neat cursive script, as though her penmanship alone reveals some trace of violation.
The NFL would like us to think that their players are held to a higher standard than the athletes who participate in Ultimate Fighting—but football players and Ultimate Fighting champs all have the same job, don’t they? Violence, velocity, intimidation, pain. I read once that research chimpanzees become totally entranced when they watch pro football on TV.
It’s easy for sports fans to turn their backs on the Roethlisberger and Ortiz stories right now, because baseball season just started, the NBA playoffs are underway and the World Cup is right around the corner. We have plenty to occupy ourselves with before football rolls around again and awakens our chimpanzee brains to the thrill of the hit. One of the big stories here in New York right now is the emergence of Mets rookie Ike Davis, a clean-cut young first-baseman whose father Ron used to pitch for the Yankees. In his first week or so with the Mets, Ike Davis has hit a home run, made one awesome circus catch, batted around .350 and played very good defense. He has kindled hope in Mets fans and given the team a second wind after an abysmal start to the season. But what’s interesting about the coverage of Davis’ story is the tentative, guarded nature of the comments people are making about his early success. Even Davis’ parents seem cautious about premature congratulations. They know their son still has to prove himself as a ballplayer, and they probably sense that Ike is going to be tested as a man and a human being. Rousing success, combined with youth and the adoration of an entire city, isn’t always a recipe for character building. And that’s a euphemism wrapped in an understatement. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger.