Naila Keleta-Mae is an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo
People around the world didn't purchase the Mayweather-McGregor fight pay-per-views at record numbers because they wanted to watch a fair contest that would test the athletes' levels of technique, preparedness or heart.
The massive viewing audience tuned in for the same reason that many of us keep watching the live show that is the Donald Trump presidency. It's for the spectacle of it all.
Both the presidency and the fight are spectacular and disturbing. In the case of the so-called "money fight," perhaps the most disturbing part is that the Nevada Athletic Commission licensed Conor McGregor (a combat athlete with no previous professional boxing experience), to box with arguably the best professional boxer of our time.
Shortly after the spectacle of the U.S presidential election last November, I began to call Mr. Trump a buffoon. After seven months of observing Trump's presidency from my vantage point in Canada, I've changed my mind.
He is more like a wasp circling the dinner plate on a late summer evening, darting about aggressively and threatening to drive us inside. Mr. Trump is more like the incessant dripping of a leaky faucet in a distant room – persistent, annoying and wasteful.
But, obviously, unlike an insect or plumbing fixture, many of Mr. Trump's words and actions have dire human, ecological and financial impact. And so, audiences around the world tune in regularly to watch the unfolding spectacle that is Mr. Trump's blatant disregard for people and processes.
I study and teach spectacle for a living. Spectacles give performers and audience members brief moments in time when they can imagine something which would otherwise be absurd.
A recent example is the spectacle of white nationalism that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a spectacle that allowed white people to march with props such as red hats and tiki torches as they chanted their racist fantasies. When people participate in spectacles it gives them the opportunity to learn about and understand the ideas embedded in the spectacle in a more profound and impactful way.
I know this because I, like performance professors and instructors around the world, use spectacle to teach students how to imagine another world. I know what happens when people are given the opportunity to imagine themselves in a different way and present it to others.
So, when I witness spectacles such as that of the Trump presidency or the Mayweather-McGregor fight, I think about what kinds of ideas and actions the participants in the spectacle will be inspired to develop, having had the opportunity to perform and be seen by an audience.
When I observe the spectacles of the Trump presidency and the Mayweather-McGregor fight, I think about what ideas and actions they will inspire in their audience members and especially in their central performers. That is the central question to ask of any spectacle: What will the lead performers imagine next?
For Floyd Mayweather, I'd like to see him use his newly expanded public platform to denounce domestic violence, given his familiarity with the issue.
For Mr. McGregor, I'd like to see him familiarize himself with the impacts of anti-black racism on African-Americans, given that he basically copied the name of the famous black hip-hop artist Christopher Wallace, who was known as The Notorious B.I.G. It's tone deaf and boring for Mr. McGregor to take so blatantly from black culture and then play ignorant possum when rightfully questioned by the media about the racist, anti-black undertones of his words and actions leading up to the fight.
As for Mr. Trump, well, as we know, that's the real spectacle to watch. Mayweather versus McGregor was just a distraction.