I stopped reading about War Machine after Sir Nigel Longstock, a character I play on the Co-Main Event Podcast, banned him from MasterTweet Theatre. His offense was that he nearly beat a woman to death. Up to that point, our funny mixed martial arts podcast had regarded him as a resource. For example, he legally changed his name from Jon Koppenhaver to War Machine approximately two weeks before he was cut from the UFC. Then he ventured into adult cinema. Finally he went to jail, where his use of Twitter skyrocketed. It also got less funny.
He was still an aggressively dumb person pronouncing on his own excellence, but in the context of an assault conviction, it didn’t strike the right tone. As his tweets went from defiant to self-pitying to Jesus, using him on the show started feel like hackery, at best. Then he did that thing to Christie Mack, and it was over. The guy named War Machine who loses prize fights is funny. The guy named War Machine who assaults and rapes people is not.
At first I typed that he did that thing to Christie Mack and we knew he was a bad person, but that’s not true. We knew before that. The time he spent in jail, Tweeting aggressively-capitalized critiques of Society, was for attacking ordinary people in parking lots and bars. He got blackballed from pornography because he stormed around a party punching strangers. Even before he assaulted Mack, he was a pro fighter who pressed his advantage outside the ring. He was evidently awful. He just hadn’t done anything life-defining yet.
Is this the salient difference between a comic figure and a sociopath? We care how the sociopath has hurt people? War Machine is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. The sentence he received today makes him eligible for parole in 36 years. He will be 71. The body he used to punch and rape people will be gone. The mind that chose to do those things will probably be gone, too. The man will be gone, and what comes out of prison in 2053, still legally known as War Machine, will be a relic of this world.
This world will be gone. Good, one is tempted to think, when considering the operation that produced this person and turned him loose to hurt other people until, collectively, we decided to hurt him forever. I could stand to let that one go. But first, show me what else you’ve got.