Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

The Giant Nut

For reasons beyond my understanding, there I was watching the BattleBots world championships with my son-in-law. It was like watching a big-time boxing match with nerds and nerdettes.

battlebot_finale__2__720.0There was trash talking, chest beating and rooster strutting. There were babes, a baritone announcer and boom lights. And then there were scraps of metal whirling in a rage in a caged ring.

For the record, ‘Bite Force’ triumphed over ‘Tombstone’ in a 3-minute final aired on ABC. After an excited play-by-play, the announcers for the event proclaimed  that bull-nosed cunning could undo a slicing propeller bot. Bite Force used its snowplow attack wedge to upend Tombstone, apparently damaging its Lithium batteries and turning its spinning blade into a butter knife.

The nerd combatants don’t actually enter the ring. Only met Bots rigged up for battle can go there. The nerd-designers hang out behind heavy plastic shields guiding their menacing metal warriors.

In between matches, the nerds head to a corner of the garage to redesign their Bots on the fly, welding on replacement parts or new weapons.

battlebot_finale__3__720.0SB Nation carried a throaty story about Bite Force’s unpredicted victory and never mentioned its nerd-manipulator. It didn’t matter. We wouldn’t recognize his name any way.

But you did get see the winning nerd hoist his prize, called “The Giant Nut.” Yeah, we thought it was ironic, too.

It turns out BattleBots has quite a history, beginning as a Las Vegas pay-for-view attraction before being rejected by just about every national network. Ultimately it was picked up by the well known sports venue, the Comedy Channel. The channel’s bigwigs thought their youthful target demographic would find it a hoot.

And apparently they did for several seasons. At its peak, BattleBots outranked “South Park” in viewer ratings.

Evidently you can tire of watching metal objects battling, so viewership began to wane. Then came a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch and its advertising agency for producing a BattleBots parody SuperBowl ad. The backers of BattleBots lost that battle in court.


Bite Force Team

Last December, ABC picked up the show for a 6-episode revival, ending with the championship over the weekend.

Chances are I won’t be that aimless again in my selection of random TV shows, so I probably will never see another BattleBots rumble. I’m pretty sure I won’t miss it.

But for a moment, my son-in-law and I were transfixed by the darting metal objects, the moving screws on the edge of the cage and the guys in T-shirts with remote controls running the show. Somehow, the battle seemed like a metaphor for the digital age in which people sext, avoid touching money and let inanimate objects do their fighting.

For a moment, we forgot about flesh and bones, relished in the remote control lifestyle of bot bashing and savored vicariously in the glory of The Giant Nut.



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