by Ted Cleaver
A German critic likened 300 to an hour and a half long Manowar video clip. Manowar is metal band that fetishizes metal weapons, male physique, and glistening sweat. It’s a good comparison, in essence 300 was all about testosterone; the political undertone is factually incorrect. While some people may – as they are free to – draw moral lessons from this type of flick, to me it is nothing more than entertaining pulp. Spartacus falls in the same category.
I am not even watching the show (yet), but friends of mine subscribed to its primal call. Someone once said that the success of a show or movie in this genre is determined by the balance between sex and violence. Both are supplied plentiful. Men are mostly half-naked, women wear incredibly seductive robes, every punch line involves a reproductive organ (or one that is mistaken as such), and I believe there is some fooling around. The violence aspect is necessary for the plot, Spartacus was of course a slave turned gladiator who eventually leads a rebellion. What I’m interested in is how the actors, more like any actor in this genre, convincingly swing sword and shield around. Those things are heavy, gladiators had to be strong.
Thankfully we have Youtube. Several fitness enthusiasts demonstrate the Spartacus workout for anyone interested. This workout is the exact workout that the actors did in order to get ripped enough to pass for a gladiator. It doesn’t consist of heavy lifting; it is more of a hyper-intense circuit training. Apparently strength is not everything for those brave men who fight with swords in arenas, core fitness and agility are at least equally important. I will do the workout today for the first time and expect to be perfectly beat.
Pulp has its benefits. For one, it can be entertaining. Moreover, the stimulus it provides to your most primal instincts can easily be transformed into a positive result.