Murderball Essay

Submitted By davids92
Words: 1125
Pages: 5

Sam Davidson
Professor Woodsworth
College Composition II
15 February 2012
A Tournament of Tales Most people consider MTV infamous for their distasteful reality shows. They often fabricate them with manipulative editing and by shooting the scripted shows in a “reality” fashion. Despite this, MTV is often ignored for its socially trustworthy television series and documentaries. Filmmakers Dana Adam Shapiro and Henry Alex Rubin along with THINKFilm and MTV Films reach out to their viewers with a gripping documentary entitled, Murderball, about a sport most people have never heard of: quadriplegic rugby. These quadriplegic men square off on a basketball court and play rugby – with unique rules and regulations of course – in specially designed wheelchairs so they can ram, bash, and smash each other with full force. The filmmakers and directors use the riveting stories of how these men were injured to draw sentimental feelings from the viewer, while their camera work and post/pre-production techniques are often manipulated to evoke wonder. In a way, the stories each of these men have to tell compete with each other as to who has it worse and whose life is most pleasant. Stephen Holden from The New York Times explains in his article, “These Gladiators On Wheels Are Not Playing For A Hug”, how “the movie is in perfect sync with the survival-of-the-fittest value at times” (Holden 2). To start, there’s the charismatic hero, or anti-hero, Mark Zupan who has been in a wheelchair since a freak car accident when he was eighteen. The film starts by really digging into the viewers psych by showing a five-minute clip of Zupan struggling to get dressed in the morning. The psychological tension lies within Zupan’s relationship with his guilt-ridden best friend who was operating the vehicle on the night the accident happened. When Zupan’s good-looking girlfriend appears on screen this most likely surprises and viewer and voids the question of if he is sexually able or not. As matter of fact, every disabled man that appears on camera is very open about his sex life, often going into detail. Despite the fact that Zupan is so outgoing and courageous this just makes the viewer feel even more pitiful that something so terrible could happen to such a good person. After introducing all of the main players of the American nation team, the filmmakers add in the juicy narrative hook of Joe Soares. Joe is a former all-star American quad rugby player that became head coach of the Canadian National team after being cut from the American Paralympic team. Although Rosemarie Garland-Thompson depicts the sentimental in her essay, “The Politics of Staring”, as producing feelings of “the sympathetic victim or helpless sufferer”, the film portrays Soares as something different (Garland-Thompson 63). Unlike Zupan, Joe is narcissistic and makes for a perfect villain by the way he screams at his team and criticizes his nonathletic son. The filmmakers cleverly milk the rivalry between the American and Canadian Paralympic Teams for all its worth. Not only does it add suspense to the documentary, but it also shows able-bodied people that these quadriplegics have a purpose and do not lead meaningless lives. The psychological tension in this case lies within the relationship between Joe and his son. Ironically, the viewer feels sentiment not only Joe but also his son who is often judged by his father for being book-smart rather than athletic. Joe’s tendency to be a hothead and judge others unfairly leads the viewer to have different kinds of sentimental views towards him compared to Zupan. While on the playing court, the filmmakers use various audio and visual techniques to portray the sport and invoke as much wonder into the viewer as possible. Holden describes the game sequences as “fast paced and fluid” and “viscerally thrilling as they are concise” (Holden 2). Near the beginning of the film, they switch back and forth between a shot of the players backside and