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The Embarrassment Show

Individualism and the journey of the archetypal hero of MMA fighters in the movie The Hurt Business

This paper analyzes the performance of MMA fighters in the documentary "The Hurt Business".

Explores the construction of the fighter's identity through the concept of individualism as theorized by Gilberto Velho. It also draws upon Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey and Erving Goffman's idea of "face-saving" to demonstrate the significance of narrative constructions following defeat, which instill in the fighter a relentless drive to achieve victory.

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Defense/Publication date:


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Defense/Publication institution:

PROA: Revista de Antropologia e Arte | UNICAMP


Nino Rhamos (Figueiredo, W. R.)

Evaluation committee:






Subjects in Portuguese:

  • Individualismo

  • Trajetória do herói

  • Artes marciais

  • O Espetáculo da Dor

  • Técnicas de combate

  • Filme documentário

Subjects in English:

  • Individualism

  • Journey of the archetypal hero

  • Martial arts

  • The Hurt Business

  • Combat techniques

  • Documentary films

Knowledge fields:

  • Antropologia

  • Antropologia visual

  • Antropologia social

Abstract in Portuguese:

​Este artigo analisa a performance dos lutadores de MMA no documentário

The Hurt Business (O Espetáculo da Dor). O texto apresenta a construção

da identidade do lutador através do conceito de individualismo pensado

por Gilberto Velho, e utiliza tanto a Jornada do Herói de Joseph Campbell

quanto a ideia de constrangimento de Goffman para mostrar o sentido

das construções narrativas após a derrota, fomentando no lutador motivos para uma busca incessante pela vitória.

Abstract in English:

​This paper analyzes the performance of MMA fighters in the documentary The Hurt Business. The paper presents the construction of combatant’s identity through Individualism’s concept by Gilberto Velho, and also uses both Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Archetypal Hero and Goffman’s concept of Embarrassment to show the meaning of narrative constructions after defeat, foster reasons for a relentless pursuit of victory.

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The purpose of this article was to examine the performance of MMA fighters in the documentary "The Hurt Business" from the perspective of fighter identity construction. Drawing on Gilberto Velho's theory of individualism, the article investigates how fighters shape their identities both inside and outside the ring in order to stand out as unique and differentiated individuals in an extremely competitive field.

Cartaz do filme "The Hurt Business" analisado no artigo "O espetáculo do constrangimento"

In order to understand the trajectory of MMA competitors, this paper also employs Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, which describes the hero's journey from humble origins to the decisive confrontation with the adversary. This organization helps to comprehend the fighter's journey, who must overcome obstacles and face constant challenges to achieve triumph. Furthermore, the text uses Erving Goffman's concept of "face-saving," which suggests that individuals are capable of creating an "impression" of themselves for others. In the context of fighting, this implies that fighters need to elaborate persuasive stories about their achievements and failures to preserve their image as "heroes" and validate their imperfections. In summary, the paper investigates the formation of the fighter's identity and the relevance of victory for maintaining that identity. Through this analysis, the reader will understand the complexity of the fight industry and the motivations that drive athletes to persist, even after painful defeats. If you are an MMA enthusiast or have an interest in sports anthropology, this article is an indispensable read.

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