Elton ”Swanton” John once sang ”Saturday night’s alright for fighting”; so what’s Friday night for? Well, if you’re like me and don’t have a social and/or sex life, Friday night’s alright for watching bedroom bound social misfits Super Street Fighting (IV) each other with their fingers. These nerds are like me with the social skill gauge turned down a couple of points and the determination gauge turned up by about 300. Saying that, I can relate to them more easily than to, say, Usain Bolt or Wayne Rooney. When I’m lying on my sweat-stained death-bed, eyes wandering and bowels atrophying all over the mattress, I’m afraid I won’t be able to say, proud even in hailing pace of my demise, “I could have been a contender”… but could I have been a Street Fighter contender? Let me entertain the possibility, at least, or perish of the truth. (If you were born to be a nerd, as I am, it must count as some sort of biological crime to not use all that time you’re going to be spending alone in your bedroom usefully, just as it would be a crime for Ryan Gosling to not fuck everything that moves.)
Today marks 25 years since the release of Public Enemy’s Fear of A Black Planet. PE frontman Chuck “Things At Your Head From A Passing Car” D once memorably exhorted us to “Fight the Power!” A student of history might reasonably contend that Chuck needn’t have bothered. We’ll fight the power, alright. We’ll fight the powers that be. We’ll fight the powers that DON’T be. We’ll fight a bucket of spam if it wants some. Science has shown what any fan of imagining what James Corden’s cries for help would sound like as their steel-capped toe crunches into his ribs for the thirtieth time in a minute already knows – namely, that humans enjoy violence much as they enjoy having a sex or eating a food*:
New research on mice shows the brain processes aggressive behavior as it does other rewards. Mice sought violence, in fact, picking fights for no apparent reason other than the rewarding feeling.
The mouse brain is thought to be analogous to the human brain in this study, which could shed light on our fascination with brutal sports as well as our own penchant for the classic bar brawl.
In fact, the researcher say, humans seem to crave violence just like they do sex, food or drugs.
It might have been less politically charged a statement for Public Enemy to have released a tune called ”Fight The Granny”, but wouldn’t some unspoken part of us all thrilled to this sentiment as much as the other? I mean, she’s doddering around all feeble and trembly, getting in the way, delicately sipping up valuable resources, and is probably not so much harboring racist beliefs behind a veneer of civilized equanimity as nesting some civilized beliefs in a plump pile of racism; she’s asking for it, isn’t she?
This primal appetite for brutality obviously goes some way to explaining not only my love for Street Fighter and UFC videos but also my love of violent rap music. It’s actually a wonder that there isn’t more music designed to slake our thirst for sex, isn’t it? It’s also interesting to consider that violent fantasies, as embodied in films like Taken, Taken 2 and Now You’re Taken The Piss, are very much out in the open, whereas I have had to hide my DVD boxset of Secret Diary of a Call Girl under my bed for the entire time I’ve owned it.
Anyway, I think that aside from a healthy love of watching people get their faces battered with knuckle-bones, there’s a lot to like about these Street Fighter videos. They are thrilling. I have no idea what’s going on in them, from the perspective of which moves are being pulled off and how much expertise is going in to each move, but for the layman (the has-been-laid man), it’s easy, at least, to see when one player has the upper hand, and when the other player manages to wrest control back of the fight. It isn’t really about witnessing physical skill, as with watching boxing or football – it’s perhaps more akin to watching horse-racing. But its got fireballs in it, which in horse racing is indicative of either a terrorist attack or mechanical calamity backstage, and is therefore about fifty six times better all round.
* I note here that nerds don’t get all that much sex or violence from life, which obviously explains their love of porn, violent porn, violent video games, violent porn games, and eating crisps and ice cream from the womb to the tomb.