One Hundred And Ten Percent Stupid

« January 2008 »

Memo to American Gladiators: YOU ARE DUMB.

Now, here's where I fess up. I'm not actually irritated by American Gladiators coming back as a matter of principle. People are always so derisive when they talk about "bread and circuses", but you know what? Bread is yummy, and circuses are fun. And if we are in the waning days of the American Empire, we should at least be able to reap some of the benefits of our decadent fall from grace, and if it can be narrated by the Orange Divorcee Terry "Hulk" Hogan? I see that as icing on a delicious cake.

Let's face it. Despite it being 2008, we as a society are woefully inadequate when it comes to exploitative futuristic death-sports. There's no Death Race, no Running Man, no Rollerball. We're not inventing new sports. And no, finding new prefixes for -boarding does not count as inventing new sports. No Speedball. Certainly no Speedball 2 Brutal Deluxe. Not even Triangle, in either its plastic panty and bike helmet version or war-torn refugee variant. The only new sports America has invented in the past 30 years are rhythmic gymnastics and soccer.

Which is why I love American Gladiators. It's a futuresport. Well, sort of. It's what the poor, primitive cavepeople of the early 90's thought sports would be in the far-flung future world of, oh, about 2005. It's like a floating car with big-ass fins on the back. It's retrofuturistic. And some of the people involved get that, because the remake is startlingly unchanged from the original.

And some of them clearly don't get that, because it's been infected with the worst excesses of modern reality TV to such a degree that you'll want to beat the producers repeatedly about the head and neck with a foam baton. And where this plays out the most is with the contestants.

First of all, everyone's got a goddamned mom, OK? And most people have kids. It's how we as a species propagate. What that means is, it DOES NOT MAKE YOU SPECIAL. Do you know what that means? That means I don't care if you have them. And I don't care that you're doing this for them. And really, when you consider that what you're doing is jumping around on foam mats engaging in mildly homoerotic horseplay with bland bodybuilders, maybe your kids or your mom or your dead friend would rather you did it for someone else.

Second of all, if every single goddamned one of you is giving one hundred and ten percent, as you all will freely admit every single time Hogan gives you the opportunity, then that's what we call a level playing field. In three hours, only ONE contestant realized this, and promised to give a still meaningless but mathematically more important two hundred percent. Also, for the record, technically, "giving it your all" is giving it 100%, and thus should really not appear in the same sentence as "giving it 110%".

And third, I know that technically, one of the prizes in the new American Gladiators is that the finalists get to be Gladiators in the second season, but first of all, none of us are hoping that the writers strike goes on that long, and second of all, this does not mean you have to try and personify your stereotype this early in the contest. Especially the dickwad from Tennessee, who spent the whole goddamned hour braying about his momma chasing him up a tree, and hog wrestling at the county fair, and calling himself "Big Country", which is at least one gratuitous syllable right there. And then he ended up losing anyway, because in Tennessee, they haven't invented treadmill ramp technology yet, and it flummoxed his poor, cornpone mind.

Just stop talking to the contestants. Stop telling us their life stories. Remember that we're dealing with a futuresport here, and in a futuresport, the only contestant we care about is the tough rebel who bucks the system and brings the game crashing down. And since that's not gonna fucking happen, that means every single body that straps on the oversized plastic bike helmet is fodder for the dunk tank, not a heartwarming story of triumph over adversity.

Keep your propaganda out of my bread and circuses. They are not three great tastes, and they do not taste great together.