by Christian Duque
It’s on. It was on when former MPD Olympia champion Jeremy Buendia went after IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Antoine Vaillant for guest posing in boardshorts. The routine was a joke, but it resulted in an all out attack from Buendia against Vaillant. The private feud quickly spilled over onto the net, with Buendia and other Men’s Physique competitors siding up with their champ.
I discussed this point on The Iron Duque Speaks, presented by IronMag Labs, a couple weeks ago, but I figured that was the end of it. Not so fast!! A few days ago, the world’s most famous contemporary bodybuilder, Kai Greene, published a photo of himself in board shorts, quite possibly joining in the joke or showing some solidarity with Vaillant. Once the shot of Kai went up, there was another photo that appeared in almost no time, of Kai and Phil, both in board shorts, reliving their ages-old rivalry. Just like I said for my weekly program, I found the Kai/Phil graphic quite funny, just like I found Antoine’s initial posing routine; however, Jeremy saw it necessary to take a few, seemingly, lighthearted jabs.
This type of feud, if you can even call it that, shows just how out of control some of these champions are. Buendia not only lashed out at Antoine, but then found himself on the receiving end of retorts from everyone from Kai Greene to Dexter Jackson. With Dexter, it was actually a bit heated, and just because The Blade is the senior statesman of muscle, doesn’t mean he’s going to simply allow himself to get talked to in any kind of way. Still, things could’ve got a lot worse, but the general consensus, by now, is no more feuds. When it was all said and done, Vaillant auctioned off the now infamous board shorts for charity (raising $1,000) and Buendia also made a similar donation to charity ($500 to two charities). To the newbie, it would seem that this all ended in good fun, with some money going to noble charities, but to the more seasoned bodybuilding fan, there’s more here than meets the eye. Why are certain fitness stars so quick to jump into feuds, does drama actually sell, and at what point do the people, simply, stop caring altogether?
Feuds gets clicks. If nothing else can be said about them – or – if we keep things as basic as possible, we’d make a pretty convincing case for why so many athletes are ready to jump into these silly, mostly online battles. And true to one of Buendia’s best points, and he’s right, for as loud as some people’s barks may be online, when many of these folks are seen in person, their whole demeanor changes. Some could attribute the latter to fear, but I’d say it’s probably more about people having multiple faces. Some people in this industry have created an online persona for themselves, an alter ego if you will, and that alter ego basks in the spotlight. Some people believe that drama has to be their calling card – because nothing else seems to work. The idea that fans will become engrossed in feuds is nothing all that new – it’s basically taking the concept of a soap opera and just bringing it to a social media platform. With the death of message boards (another hotbed of feuds and pettiness), many of the day’s most dramatic characters, almost live for pulling people into these online shouting matches. The only real issue is, when both parties don’t want to shout anymore, and/or when public opinion turns – and turns fast.
If we’re talking about one of the most decorated physique guys in history vs a somewhat known pro bodybuilder, then that’s one thing, but to have guys, the likes of, Kai Greene and Dexter Jackson joining the chat, then it’s enough for anyone to seriously re-consider, re-evaluate, and just maybe, retreat. Also, once either side loses the support of the majority, that too will cause all sides to re-evaluate. After last year’s Men’s Physique feud, people are just about fed up. As it relates to the present and the future, if anything’s been proven, it’s that people care less and less about these pointless rivalries – it’s gotten old and most definitely not entertaining.
In a very real way, bodybuilding is going back to the old days, when physiques did all the talking. I also think that the vast majority of people are pushing back on this ever-dominating climate of political correctness. Certain anti-social behaviors like online bullying are no longer going to get brushed under the rug. Even in this small feud, certain folks crossed several lines in terms of trying to offend the other. Whether said privately or publicly, when there’s a conflict of this nature, things tend to get ugly. Nonetheless, certain lines shouldn’t ever be crossed.
If the sole goal were to communicate hurt feelings and/or try to promote mutual respect, then folks could send a private message, talk on the phone, or have a conversation in person. And when I mean a conversation in person, that’s not code for anything aggressive or hostile, it’s simply referring to a conversation between two, civilized men and/or women, based on mutual respect. No one, on the other hand, expects any conflict resolution or anything positive to come from waging an online war on social media. Don’t you agree? If not, that’s cool too.
I hope you enjoyed reading my article, here at Iron Magazine. I look forward to reading your comments.