Men are a special species. Having been the dominant sex for centuries only to have the infallibility of their supremacy questioned by feminism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they now find themselves at a loss as to how to assert their man-ness – or indeed, what that man-ness means. This has translated into the creation of special pockets within society that attempt to define and celebrate what it is to be a man – hence the birth of man clubs, man drinks, man books, man movies, man tools, man meals, and – perhaps most definitive of all – man shows.
Deadliest Warrior is such a man show – appearing on a man channel, created by the manliest of men for an audience saturated – nay, drowning in testosterone. What could be more manly than pitting wholly improbable warriors and their miscellaneous weaponry against one another in battles to the death? Gushing blood? We got it. Exploding trucks? We got it. Bazookas? We got it. Dignity and class? Go back to watching Lifetime, you sissy. Deadliest Warrior only has sixty minutes to demonstrate an entire genocide’s worth of violence, so to hell with those piddly emotional aspects of the human condition. That isn’t what we’re here to see. For the next hour, Genghis Khan demolishes GI Joe. Buddhist monks go head-to-head with Polynesian pirates. The mafia blasts 1940s Chinese gang lords with Tommy guns. Pirates blow up crusading knights with cannon balls. Spartan warriors shake their spears at nimble ninjas. Swarthy Vikings pillage honorable samurai. Apaches scalp ironclad Roman gladiators. William Wallace avenges Scotland against Shaka Zulu, king of the African Zulu tribe. After all, the limits of time, space, and logic are for wusses.
While mere blood letting might be enough to appease the target demographic, Deadliest Warrior takes it to the next level by attempting, through use of computer modeling, to determine conclusively who can beat up whom. Warrior supremacy is determined through the manliest of methods – by maximizing the quantity and quality of blood and explosions. This is accomplished via slashing, beating, clubbing, punching, hacking, juicing, exploding, mincing, filleting, and sautéing various objects capable of spurting, bleeding, bursting, oozing, and burning. What scientifically superior reason could there possibly be for the destruction of countless pig carcasses, bovine carcasses, and ballistic dummies that gush runny, red Jell-O?
Never before has so much speculation been dedicated to so dubious a debate. The show successfully poses questions that will never – ever need to be answered, because there will never – ever be an occasion to ask them or be concerned with their outcome – unless, of course, the Spartans have breached a temporal vortex with their Trojan horse. Perhaps most concerning is that we are never told what these people have done to offend their impromptu opponents. Have the Apaches staged a protest against the Coliseum’s exotic animal abuse? Is Shaka Zulu in league with the English? Although, to be fair, does the reason really matter when some fellow is aiming for your head with their flamethrower?
What the series proves is that grown men are really nothing more than freakishly oversized five-year-olds. What little boy hasn’t sent his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to defeat the clone armies of Darth Vader or summoned the U.S.S. Enterprise to push back a COBRA assault team? Age has only caused them to move from action heroes to animal carcasses. The former made less of a mess, and one cannot help but wonder who cleans up the set after an episode of Deadliest Warrior. The producer’s mother?