Douglas Coupland once wrote that there are three things humans do that define us as a species; things with no equivalent in the animal world. He said they were “smoking, body-building and writing”. I would like to add a 4th item to this list of human peculiarities, something that I consider to be the best YouTube series out there ;‘BOTCHAMANIA’.
Essentially, Botchamania is a YouTube video series that compiles bloopers, gaffes, face-palms and Freudian slips from the world of professional and amateur wrestling. In this sense, it can be considered as the geeky cousin of ‘You’ve Been Framed’. The moves and stunts that professional wrestlers attempt can often be described as ‘low percentage’, so it makes sense that when these moves go wrong, they REALLY go wrong. Overdubbing music from a computer game and maybe slowing the action down makes these moments ridiculously funny, in the banal kind of way that websites like ytmnd.com have dedicated themselves to.
However, Botchamania is not your average blooper reel. For a start, the ‘smark’ subculture that Botchamania represents is fascinating in it’s own right. A ‘smark’ is a wrestling fan that follows the storylines and action of wrestling with the same passion as a ‘mark’ (your average die-hard wrestling fan), but with a healthy dose of cynicism, particularly with regard to some of the half-baked narratives and behind-the-scenes company politics. Half wide-eyed fanboy, half embittered cynic, Botchamania represents this subculture and is an oversized foam hand clasped to the forehead in disbelief and despair.
So far, so geeky. It might sound like such an endeavour just for wrestling fans, but this really isn’t the case. I myself haven’t been a follower of professional wrestling since the days of Jake the Snake - but Botchamania has a quality to it that makes it universally appealing. A lot of this is down to the references to film and computer games that ‘Maffew’ (the guy behind it all) peppers his videos with. Amongst many others, ‘Blazing Saddles’, ‘Goldeneye’ and ‘Akira’ are frequently referenced, revisited and bastardised, creating a surreal hybrid of classic cinema, computer games and wrestling.
Half wide-eyed fanboy, half embittered cynic, Botchamania represents this subculture and is an oversized foam hand clasped to the forehead in disbelief and despair.
With all these references and in-jokes, watching Botchamania can actually sometimes be like piecing a bizarre puzzle together. I can’t imagine that there are too many people in the world that fully understand every single moment of Botchamania (there are 200 episodes and most are around the 10 minutes mark) - but this is part of the joy. It’s a comic equivalent of James Hampton’s TheThroneoftheThirdHeavenoftheNations' MilleniumGeneralAssembly. Like James Hampton, Maffew uses the cheapest and most disposable items available to make something utterly jaw-dropping in size and scope - and it’s often these kinds of achievements that really tell of the extraordinary things that humans are capable of.
Enough of that shit: here comes the conclusion. Botchamania is an incredibly funny and incredibly well made series that becomes more rewarding the more you delve into Maffew’s strange world - and personally, I can think of no better, funnier, or more choke-slammin’ way to celebrate the diversity of human life. Here’s three great episodes to get you started:
A good introduction. The part featuring Batista and Mark Henry towards the end may make your head explode however.
If Botchamania had a ‘White Album’, it would be the 92nd entry of the series. Soundtracked by Philip Glass, the apocalyptic ending is a work of genius, blending a particularly sub-standard wrestling match, ‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘Halloween 3’, ‘Street Fighter: The Movie’ and ‘Akira’
If you’ve always thought that ‘The Godfather’ and professional wrestling would go well together, this one’s for you. I love the ‘Iron Sheik’ endings, and this episode probably has the best one.
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