Was I really too violent to be designing toys and games? Should the kids, who we do not want to grow up into violent human beings, be shielded from toy guns and bows and arrow? Does playing Grand Theft Auto really make you want to run those b!tches over? I am not sure. Personally, I do not agree. The experts are divided.
I loved guns when I was a kid (RIP my dear red Thompson Leo gun). I loved imagining my toy cars making the most daring jumps and impossible drifts, with the liberal eeehhhee hheeehhee schreeeech sounds, suggesting tyre burnout. I monstrously impaled the mango tree in my backyard with sharpened broom sticks which were the arrows of my rubber band powered bow (of course I duly put it to my forehead to equip it with magical powers a la Ramayan and Mahabharat). I still remember my disappointment when I did not see an ‘Action’ or ‘Stunts’ credit before the start of the Sunday evening movies. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of guys.
Then, entered Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv and a host of others. These comics were gory, bloody and super-violent. And we loved them. That was also the time of rise, at least in my part of the world, of the modern-day menace, video games. The earliest I played
were Mario, Pacman, Mortal Combat and Contra. All included, with varied levels of seriousness, concepts of destruction, death and violence. I did not pick on my juniors and feebler classmates any more than usual the day after. The two greatest Hindu festivals, Diwali and Holi, fill up the markets with, isn’t it fabulous, (toy) Guns, to fire the little paper crackers or spraying colored water. Our scriptures are replete with descriptions of bloody battles. Our gods invariably brandish weapons, and most often than not, they kill the ‘bad’ guys; never reform them or anything. And for all of this, we are not even the violent-most people around.
So I think I have every right to not consider myself an especially violent person. I mean, I could be, but a little story is too little evidence to brand me violent isn’t it? Some of the most interesting short stories I read were from Roald Dahl who wrote extensively for children but whose adult stories were really dark.
And I do not enjoy the Hostel series of movies or that genre in general. Just saying. I find them tasteless.
But how do you explain the above then? I mean, if we do not like or practice violence, why do we relish all such activities which include blowing things up, or throwing stuff, or making disorder out of order? Because, I think, these activities and violence are not really so tightly related. Sometimes violence may manifest itself through these but largely they are just pure innocent child like fun. We, as children, have not so subtle tastes. Everything has to be really amped up to be good. The crackers should make the loudest noise, the candy has to be annoyingly sweet, and the cartoon character should fall on its head and get flat like dough or crumple up like paper. The good guy should thrash the baddies to hell and beyond. It is all just fun and that is why we liked it as kids. And as grown-ups too, just wee bit subtler.
So what about violence IN AND AS sports? The Martial Sports. Combat sports. They must be the coolest things right? I mean guys are fighting as sport. What could be cooler? Umm, not quite. Championships of Judo, Karate, wrestling and boxing have been around for years. Only boxing found some favor. In fact, it still is the most watched combat sport in the world but in India it is a weak first among other combat sports. The last boxing I watched was when Mike Tyson was around. But more often than not, I found it a bit of a non-action due to a lot of holding. Boxers would jab a bit and then hug each other to catch breath or to defend themselves. Of course, I was a kid. I hardly knew any boxers and was almost totally unaware of the other weight-class boxers apart from heavyweights (for obvious reasons, lighter weight classes have more fast paced action and action of any sort in general). In short, boxing never really caught on. But the main problem and one which really made the action of combat sports, if I might use the word here, bore, was an overabundance of rules. Boxing had to be fought like boxing, judo like judo and grappling like grappling. Wouldn’t it be great if all of it was thrown in the mix, the freedom to use whichever style you want? And more interestingly, to see who wins when a boxer fights a Judoka or a wrestler takes on a kick boxer?
WWE seemed to be the answer. WWE, or WWF as it was called back then, was immensely popular. Is in fact. Amusingly, it was not through WWF shows that I became a fan. It was through the WWF card game where we compared fighters’ biceps, wins, fights fought etcetera and the stories about it from my class mates. The card games and the fabulous stories got me very interested in WWF. (If you too watched WWF in the 90s, this link will surely find some favor with you)
Finally I saw WWF and was mildly disappointed because it was easy to judge that they were not fighting for real. And I was astonished to see how many of my friends did not seem to accept this at all. The simplest thing man, why on earth anybody would wear long hairs in an all-out no rules brawl, when they could be the easiest thing for your adversary to grab? The lack of complete replays, the lame kicks and backhanded slaps, the extraordinary ability of fighters to just rise up even after punched in face brutally, really lot many ways to tell. But then it dawned on me that it was not really meant to showcase sports in the first place. It is meant for entertainment and that it provided aplenty. Then I could appreciate the hard work of those guys, their daring stunts, amusing storylines, and of course Stacey Keibler.
But would not it be great, if WWE was real?
And God heard me. I saw UFC. And interestingly, it was one of the WWE superstars who acted as a link. I was just flipping channels when I saw Brock Lesnar on Sony Six (Sony Six broadcasts UFC in India). But it was not WWE because that is on Ten Sports and anyway Lesnar was not in a WWE ring. He was in an Octagon, fighting Shane Carwin for UFC heavyweight championship, which, I learnt, Lesnar was defending.
The program duly built up the fight. I heard a guy (Dana White, I later learned) say “Carwin is a beast. Whatever he touches, drops”. Carwin was undefeated and he had finished (not killed LOL, defeated. ‘Finish’ is used to distinguish it from a win based on points) all his previous opponents in first round itself. The guy had not seen a Round Two in his 5 years’ career !! That was impressive. There he was, Lesnar, himself a monster and they were hyping the other guy?? I had to watch this. And then I saw Joe Rogan, who I remembered from Fear Factor (the host of Fear Factor when it used to run on AXN). He also made some comments about Carwin’s knockout abilities and Lesnar’s athleticism. Nice. The fight began, and Shane Carwin really turned out to be the beast he was projected. His punches rocked Lesnar and Lesnar was wobbly. And I could tell it was real, this was not another pro wrestling promotion, THIS was the real stuff. Couple of punches more and Lesnar was on the ground with Carwin punching the dear life out of him, Lesnar guarding his head. The first round bell saved Lesnar, barely. The start of Round two, Carwin winked at a banged up Lesnar from his corner, who smiled back. That was damn funny, I was a fan right there. I think that was the moment which impressed me the most. And that is what you really expect when two equals collide; mutual admiration. And what makes you really love it is when the guys have the heart to express that admiration. Lesnar finished Carwin by a submission (an arm triangle choke) shortly in round two and won. Carwin was too exhausted from round one. Lesnar mock punched his face to indicate that he can take punches, afterwards.
Those 7 odd minutes of Lesnar vs Carwin converted me to a UFC MMA faithful. And like all smokers who tirelessly keep offering their dearest nonsmoker friends a whiff of their own cigarettes, I will have to try and make you see the awesomeness of this action.
Read more shortly.