Cinema Sinner: The Backyard

To enjoy this film with your date:

Clothes: Austin 3:16 shirts
Food: Whatever you can eat with a few teeth missing
Music: Marilyn Mason’s “The Fight Song”

What is it with you people? A sea of Yankees and Red Sox hats were all I saw for a few weeks. Now, it’s football and basketball team jerseys that seem to be the preferred fashion choice. Watching these sports is about as dull as watching paint dry. Do I want to spend hours watching tobacco-chewing slobs hit balls across a field? And for what kind of sport do people wear body armor in an attempt to look like Superman?

What happened to real sports? The good old days of gladiators? Martial arts competitions are a step in the right direction, but there are still too many limitations placed upon the fighters. No, my homies, the only real exciting sports to watch are Backyard Wrestling and Ultimate Fighting.

Paul Hough’s amazing documentary, “The Backyard,” captures the primal energy and unabated athleticism behind this sport. Don’t know the rules? Well, don’t bring your football equipment – unless you plan to use it as a weapon – and don’t bring your chewing tobacco unless you aim properly and spit it into your enemies’ eyes.

Forget about the politically correct documentaries about fake people and their rigid ideologies. This one shows a phenomenon that has taken over not only North America, but Europe, as well. Go to any town and you will find a Backyard Wrestling group.

Sure, the outcomes of these matches are preplanned and some of the violence is orchestrated. However, the gore in this film is completely real. The blood you see is the real blood of competitors. The fire sticks with which they burn each other are real fire. And the “blading” they do (where competitors slice their own heads open underneath the ring) is real blading.

Like the best of magicians, Backyard Wrestlers blur the line between what is real and what is fake. Everyone knows that horror and gore films are fake; everyone knows that a football injury is terribly real. But no one can figure out whether Backyard Wrestling is fact or fiction. And therein lies the artistry of it. It can do what no other sport or film can: leave the viewer in a state of mystery.

Hosted by the legendary Rob Van Dam, Hough’s documentary does not take the easy way out and criticize these competitors; rather, the documentary touches a deep part of any human, reminding us of the days not too long ago when we would have showdowns with those who would attack us, like Wild West shootouts, or Medieval jousts.

So, get rid of those sports jerseys and replace them with some backyard wrestling T-shirts. After all, each one’s an original, depending on the amount of blood you’re willing to spill.

“The Backyard” was released this week on DVD.

The writer holds a ph.D in film studies and is a recipient of the Bender Teaching Award.

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