Saturday, June 06, 2009

Deadliest Warrior

Sometimes I find myself watching shows and I think to myself "Oh, dear lord, this show is so clearly aimed at dudes, why am I enjoying this?" And yet, Deadliest Warrior has totally sucked me in, because it's exactly the sort of stupid geeky debate that guys like me had when we were in our teens. Except that now they've got "experts" and a computer program (named Slytherin!) to try to determine the "real" winner. It's ridiculous and stupid, and yet I can't stop watching it if I come across it on the tv. I didn't even know I wanted to know who would win in a fight between the Green Barrets and the Spetsnaz, but once the show started, I had to find out.

It's like Mythbusters meets History Channel meets teen boy "who would win a fight" debates.

I want to see them pit Amazons against someone, though. I know that the Amazons are one of those groups where there's less fact than fiction to the myth, but, hell, they put ninjas vs. Spartans up, and ninjas are completely fictitious in the way they showed them, so why not pit the Amazons against someone?

I also find it interesting to note who I end up liking and disliking in this show. During the Green Barret vs. Spetsnaz episode, I ended up finding the Spetsnaz guy sort of humorous and likable, even though, you know, he's a trained killer. The Green Barret guys just came across as overly macho assholes, and I found myself rooting against them. Which is weird to me, because it's not like either group lacked testosterone. If there was any more chest beating or posturing, they'd have had to pull their dicks out to compare. Which I'm pretty sure would have made it no longer Spike TV material.

This fits into a larger conversation that I've been having and thinking about for a while, but I'm still sort of working out and fleshing out, about violence and the media. Here's a show that airs at 3 in the afternoon on Saturdays, where they spend the whole time talking about and demonstrating how deadly various weapons are. They test the weapons on pig corpses, impale test dummies, and then, at the end, they have a simulation of a battle, and one guy/team dies at the end. It's a pretty violent show (as if the title alone wasn't indication enough). On the one hand, as I've already stated, I find it fascinating. On the other, it does seem a little fucked up that it's presented as regular old Saturday afternoon entertainment. Like "Hey, let's watch dudes kill each other, and find out which of these two guys is the more deadly fighter!" And, honestly, I found a couple of the matchups a little... I don't know...

Taliban vs. IRA? Maybe not super cool. I don't think that many people have an actual investment in Spartan vs. Ninja or Pirate vs. Knight, but there are people alive today who've lost friends and relatives to the activities of the IRA and the Taliban. It just seems insensitive, at the very least.

Anyway, welcome to my new guilty pleasure: a show on Spike TV of all things.

And, since I finally watched Funny Games, I hope to eventually get a post up about the violence thing, in more depth. Eventually.


Thomas MacAulay Millar said...

I love the concept, but the first two episodes I kind of thought there was way too little geek fodder and way too much smack-talking machismo. At the end, instead of one big fight, I thought they should have shown how the simulation broke down: the percent that ended with missile weapons, or that wrapped up as soon as close combat was joined, before showing the one example of a super-close iteration; then break down the stats. That would leave less time for the partisans to trash-talk, which I think would be an improvement.

Roy said...

I definitely think that the macho smack-talking detracts from the show. It's no coincidence that the people I end up rooting for are the ones who are the least aggressive in their presentations, and the most soft spoken (if you can call it that). To point back to the Spetsnaz vs. GB match-up, for example. I felt like the GB guy was just a huge, testosterone fueled jerkface. I kept expecting him to pull off his shirt and say things like "Bring it!" The Russian guy, while still competitive, was generally much more mellow, and less macho about it. He was sort of like "Yeah, they're good, but I think we're better. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to demonstrate this weapon."

But, yeah, if they'd cut out all the smack-talking filler, and put in some more of the stats from the simulations, I wouldn't complain. I know the recent episodes do show the final breakdown of how many matches each side won, and which weapons were the deciding factor each time, but I have to say, I totally love the "simulation" at the end. It's so very "bad history channel reenactment", that I can't help but love it, and think "I wonder what these actors were thinking about when they did this? Were they thinking 'this is the dumbest thing ever'? 'Why am I a pirate fighting a knight? Who cares about this?'"

Anonymous said...

I always get a sort of guilty pleasure being a woman watching Spike TV. It's sort of like being invited into a clubhouse with a sign that says "no girls allowed." I liked the Deadliest Warrior show at first, but ultimately got bored with all the talking, especially the smack talking.
I also wish they had explained why different weapons are tested on different "enemies." Why do they use a pig carcass when it might be just as effective to use one of those synthetic dummies with blood packs?

Mark said...

Ok, I finally had a chance to run into this show, and I have to say that I agree. The show has wayyy too much filler, smack-talking or otherwise. Generally, I find smack-talking kinda fun, but in this context it doesn't work at all because everything is a hypothetical. Smack-talk is supposed to take place before, during, and after a real event and indeed, it can even be a strategic part of the game played. But when you're talking about a hypothetical situation, smack-talk serves no purpose and is just plain annoying.

The other thing that got on my nerves was just how inadequate the system of judgement really was. As someone who works with computer systems all the time, I'm familiar with the difficulties of modeling the real world as a computer program and I find that process interesting (if sometimes infuriating). Unfortunately, this show kinda glosses over that, pretends the system is fine, and hides the innards least people figure out it's all a sham.

I love the hypothetical situations, but part of the reason they're fun is that you can think outside the box and take into account the intangibles. Instead, the show narrows the parameters to the typical weapons used (and it seems to use the same categories of weapons for every show) and relies upon a demonstration with a sample size of 2 for each team. It then extrapolates the results out a thousand times as if those 2 people represent the whole. Occasionally, some of the judges talk about the intangibles, but from what I can gather, such things are not part of the computer program they run. I realize this sort of pedantry kinda misses the point, but that's where my head is while watching the show.

Finally, I hate the pseudo-reenactments they do during the episode and at the end. They're just pointless filler. Also, the while I kinda liked that the narrator sounded like the dude from 300, it eventually started to grate...

I enjoyed an episode or two, but I don't think it'll become one of my regular shows... However, I can see it getting addicting if you aren't bothered by some of the junk I mentioned.

Aaron said...

just to start out i'll say that i am a teenager. Late teens. The show kinda frustrates me in that the simulations are dumb. the computer cannot simulate real life situations. in the Ninja v Spartans episode they put two complete different people against the other. Ninja's strike at night where they can't be seen since they are in all black; where as Spartans want to see their enemies so they fight during the night. then on the simulation they put the ninja in the woods during the day. And of Course the spartan wins. DUH it's day time!!! the ninja can't hide and surprise attack like they do. the simulation also only pits the 4-5 weapons against eachother. Like everyone only carries that many weapons. another thing is that they will put a pig carcarass against a gel'd dummy, why dont they use the same thing (such as 2 pigs) to compare the weapons. you can only tell if one weapon is better than the other by using the weapon on the same thing (in my opinion). like i said i'm a teenager so i like trash talk but they do too much of it...!!!!!

Anonymous said...

People alive today who've lost a shit load more friends and relatives to the Brits and Americans, whats your point?

IRA "terrorists" have a better civilian-war kill ratio than the brits, so they are not by definition terrorists, and the British by definition are.

Roy said...

My point was made in the post. I'm not going to fault anyone for finding the Green Beret/Spetsnaz episode more troubling than the IRA/Taliban episode.

And having a better civilian/combatant ratio isn't how a terrorist is defined, so I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. If you're expecting me to defend the actions of the military when it comes to civilian causalities, or defend the war, you're going to be waiting a long time.