or: “After a long day in the arena, I relax with a refreshing Coors Light”
As a nation and as a “civilized” society we have adopted many traditions from the past that maybe we wish we had not. Slavery built this country, divided this country, and then it’s abolition finally freed this country. Prostitution was the linchpin that almost every western city was built around. Put a brothel, a bar, and a Hotel along a railroad…you’ve got yourself a town. We have finally accepted that orgies, bisexuality, homosexuality, and other once taboo secrets are openly discussed. We have indeed come a long way, but there is an absence in America’s history, and present, that I think the future might benefit from. A new sporting event that solves a lot of problems and takes things up a notch. We can in one fell swoop embrace our bloodlust no one wants to admit we have, and we can create commerce while emptying jails and privatizing justice under the glare of dilated eyes and in the blood of fast-pumping hearts: Let’s bring back the Gladiators and the Arena.
Who doesn’t want to see two men fight to the death? It is no new concept I am presenting in these pages. We have seen this idea played out in some form or another under the lights of film and stage. The concept is there, entertained as a seemingly atrocious thought of a world that has advanced or degraded far enough that this bloodlust is something we won’t quite achieve in our current state. Gamer, The Running Man, Death Race, The Condemned, the idea of setting criminals against one another or putting them in to a game for the amusement of the crowd is no fresh idea. Gamer is a world where we have advanced so far in technology, and been so desensitized, that FPS entertainment jumped the shark and we went flesh and blood with death row convicts as avatars. The Running Man was a game show where criminals tried to survive a gauntlet for their freedom in a world that had degraded to mostly poverty stricken people or the deviant that could only get their jollies off of corporal punishment any more. Death Race is basically the same thing with cars. The Comdemned was a bunch of convicts dropped on an island set with the task of being the last person alive for the entertainment of the masses and the pocket of one event coordinator.
Obviously, the idea fascinates us. All these concepts are novel ideas and very creative ways of putting criminals to work for the good of the rest of us, but it is not what I am talking about. I don’t want guns, cars, and game show formats…I want the Coliseum 2.0. I am advocating for the real deal with tridents, short swords, nets, and armor. Skilled fighters set to battle to death or near it as decided by the crowd and presiding leader over the Primus. I want dirt turned to mood by the blood, lions out of trap doors, packs of hyenas, and reenactments of great battles of the State played out for the entertainment of the Proletariate.
Why not? We’ve got all of the death row inmates out of appeals just sitting around in maximum security prisons on 23-hour lockdown. We’re gonna rehabilitate them? Let’s just quash the idea that we run a system of prisons set to correct behavior in individuals so they can reenter society. We don’t want them back, and once they are released they are marked with a scarlet letter of prison. We publicly list our sex offenders and expect they can just slip back in to society…yeah right. Our system makes and enables more monsters than it fixes. Our jails are more like the basement of an abusive parent. A sane man going in will inevitably come out more broken than before our system took him in to it’s heartless maw. You go ahead and ask a death row inmate if he would like to be trained and armed, able to win his life and freedom on a designated island in the Pacific set in mortal combat instead of sitting around going mad; I think you’d find him very open to the suggestion.
Oh, you couldn’t imagine such a thing? “We’re a civilized nation and just the thought of such a thing makes my stomach turn.” I guess you’re more comfortable with your prisoners thrown in holes and hidden; out of sight out of mind right? This way you can lie to yourself and fetally rock in the corner chanting “we’re all fine” through sobs into the slacks you bought at T.J. Maxx. I guess it is quite a leap, but aren’t we bumping up against this idea all the time?
One of the fastest growing sports is the UFC, which is two men inside a chain link cage meant to beat one another until one gives up, passes out, or time expires. People by the hundreds of thousands watch as finely tuned machines punch, kick, and pummel each other to the roar of the crowd. Is this not the final step before the precipice of a fight to the death? We watch boxing where two men go toe to toe for the crowd with every intent of beating the other man until he cannot continue. Yes, we fight our civilized, protracted wars, counting death tolls like a Wall Street P/L sheet. We watch highlights of bombings and attacks on Al-Qaeda insurgents on BBC with popcorn and six-foot erections in the dark of our living rooms. We love to see street justice and the blood of the Wrong spilled. Take a poll on any street corner asking random people if they want to see pedophiles be put to a violent and suffering death…half the people would volunteer to deliver the sentence with a dull butter knife and a jerry-rigged car battery.
The real question is whether we can decide on a most appropriate site for this new Coliseum unto justice-tainment? Wasington, D.C., of course. Our architecture that currently exists in the city fits the motif of a new Coliseum. We built the city with Roman influence of greatness and awe to impress and humble foreign dignitaries and visitors in the shadow of our empire. I say we take that reflecting pool at the Washington monument and drain it. Let’s build it right there in the shadow of the monument and under the sightless eyes of Lincoln himself. Let’s erect a monument of our own, made to stand as a tribute to the roots of our society and the iron fist by which we deal out punishment.
In our empire’s capitol the President can preside as Caesar deciding the fate of the fallen with the help of the crowd; the stand on the death penalty would really mean ramifications in the next election. We can get tens of thousands inside the arena like a football game and invite foreign dignitaries to sit in and watch our awesome games. To hype up the crowd we’ll have t-shirt cannons and concessions with giant turkey legs, beer, and chili curly fries. We’ll commission FOX News to design over-the-top graphics packages and intro sound effects while we get Trisha Yearwood to sing the theme song. We can sing the national anthem, we’ll have a halftime show featuring Slash and the Black Eyed Peas…scratch that, the halftime show will actually be good instead. We can televise it in prime time, even internationally like Wimbeldon. We can have sponsors like Budweiser, Doritos, and Gerber knives. The crowd will seethe and scream to the clang of swords and the agony of participants. 3D broadcast and slow motion replays can be sponsored by KIA or Toyota. Allstate will donate $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of America for every decapitation; it will be magical.
In the games we can introduce each contestant with proper announcers like Hoyce Gracie and maybe Bill Dwyer as the color man. The criminals will have stat sheets like a left-handed MLB closer; their crime, time on death row, bouts fought in, kills, critical hit percentage, style of battle, etc. We can sell collectable cards of the greatest fighters, and school children will trade each other and collect ‘em all like a demented Pokemon addiction. We will reenact D-day, the battle of the bulge, Gettysburg, Custer’s Last Stand in opening rounds where criminals are slaughtered by expert fighters to show the States prowess. Middle rounds will be like bullfights, but we will not limit it to bulls; we’ll use bears, lions, elephants, and packs of Hyenas, too. Man will fight beast in battles more fair than any hunting trip you’ve ever been on. “That’s cruel to treat animals like that.” Really? I think your Mossberg vs. Deer scenario is a bit less sporting than setting three death row inmates with tridents against an elephant on mescaline.
The final matches will consist of the most twisted an heinous criminals our prison systems have created. Triple murderers, cannibals, rapists, child molesters, all rounded up and set to do battle one on one or in epic battle royals. Each man given a weapon of choice, the armor, the training to fend for themselves, and then released on to the now bloody, muddy soil of the arena with a chance at life and freedom. The crowd would roar, boo, scream, fuck, and fight, as the matches went on. A moment in time as serial rapists and molesters were skewered and slice limb from limb by murderers. Cannibals eating the very heart of an opponent in victory before being sent back to prison and training to fight for the people in the next games; GoldenPalace.com painted on their back split by a fresh wound.
It doesn’t need to just be in Washington. Once the blood was in the water smaller towns and cities would begin having their own games. Bullfighting would make a huge surge in the Southwest, dog fights in the south, bum fights in major cities, cockfights in the back of dirty Chinese restaurants; tickets to local games would be on stubhub any time of day. But it isn’t all going to be prisoners. You don’t think there are some good ol’ boys in the South that want to watch a couple of Guantanamo Bay detainees go all Jihad on one another for their lives; that animosity is very marketable.
UFC fighters that want the next high will learn weapons training and fight locally to work their way up to the honor of the Washington Coliseum one day to retire inmates of their own. Ex-soldiers and paramilitary fighters would slake their blood thirst with the honor, fame, and money to come from professional gladiatorial service. Retired fighters would become myths and legends like Paul Bunyon and John Henry. Patriotism can now truly be measured in blood and body counts, here, on our own soil eliminating the pesky domestic threats we too often accept as the status quo. The lore and the honor of fighting and even being the hand that slew a convicted pedophile would warm the cockles of many men’s hearts and they would come in droves.
“You are sick, Wes. This is so fucked up. How could you even think of this?” Why the hell not? We have the bloodlust, we’ve got the cable channels, and we can get the sponsors. Maybe we can finally be honest with ourselves, admitting we have a problem, and take our existing sickness to a new level. Don’t talk to me about cruel, unusual, and murder as a sin. We have justified cold blood murder far too often for the meaning of the word to be anything but demented. Had we started this practice of gladiatorial fighting early in our history, while we still had slaves, then a different tune you would be singing my friend. But alas, we embraced every other shamefully glorious practice of Rome but this one. We killed, raped, and pillaged our way across this land leaving pestilence, racism, pain, and whores, in our wake. We throw our prisoners away and think simply cutting them off from the world and surrounding them with other criminals will change them. But somehow we found ourselves above the fight to the death for spectacle, and that to me seems a travesty. What are we afraid of? We already feel our empire is unbeatable and “too big to fail,” so why not embrace our inner-Roman and ride this train right to our inevitable, pornographic apocalypse while doing our roots the honor of getting drunk watching two men tempt the Reaper with every blow of the sword; we are as great and doomed as the Romans, but our entertainment is definitely lacking.