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Dos Factotum » Archive » We Can Destroy That

We Can Destroy That

January 3rd, 2009

Human Wrecking Balls is a TV show about two men who destroy things. What sorts of things? Armoires, ceilings, car windshields, bowling ball returns. Anything more destroyable than a neutron star, they will destroy, feet-, back- or shoulder-first. And they’ll go about it with likely more enthusiasm than you’ve mustered for any project in your life.

The men are Craig and Paul Pumphrey, tall, thick brothers with backgrounds in mixed martial arts, policing, construction, and competitive breaking. Craig once body-slammed himself through ten feet of ice. Back in 2007, when they blogged about their feats of strength for Nat Geo, they wore baggy, sleeveless T-shirts and dull black pants. In other words, clothes fit for people who destroy cement blocks for a living. They both had some fat around the meat on their bones, like destroying types tend to have. Now, on G4, they dress like Aéropostale clerks: tight T-shirts with graphics in irregular locations (only around the collar, only on the obliques) and designer jeans. They’re leaner. Craig, for one, has less neck fat. Fair enough: nerdy-cool G4 can’t have its cement-block breakers looking like Nat Geo’s cement-block breakers. And if there was ever a meeting between G4 execs and the Pumphreys in which the strongmen were told to trim down and change their image while a network flunky wheeled in a rack of European-cut shirts with irregularly-located graphics, Paul and Craig, both presumably shooting wheat grass, would have nodded and said, “Yeah, let’s do this.”

You can’t imagine them balking at any suggestion. “How about you roll this frying pan into a tube.” “Yes.” “Ram into that small plane’s rudder and bend it into a right angle.” “Yes.”

They morph into tight cannonballs and fall through rooftops like Sonic the Hedgehog. They dismantle bathrooms, leaping through glass shower doors and tearing perfectly fine toilets out of the floor. (In one segment, computer imagery shows how well the toilet is bolted down—this show’s version of CSI‘s bullet-in-liver close-ups.)

Some cursory Internet research revealed that one of the (seemingly novel) points I wanted to make about the show was first touched upon by G4 host Kevin Pereira (or his writers) during a promotional interview with the Pumphreys: “Most home-remodeling shows are about building people up and making families more comfortable. And you’re just tearing them out of house and home.”

Indeed, Human Wrecking Balls is the antidote to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Sell This House and all the others. Many people—renters, college students, the poor—could give a shit about how a $1,000 granite island could transform their kitchen into a place for both meal preparation and eating. They don’t even have the money or space for a cheap-ass island. But put that granite island in the path of the Pumphrey brothers’ butts—they sometimes butt-drop things they want to destroy—now that’s television. (The show makes sense for a downwardly mobile viewing public as well as a budget-conscious network: think of all the cheap, empty houses out there, each equipped with countertops and walls and roofs just begging to be destroyed.)

Now, hopefully Mr. Pereira hasn’t thought of this one, too: Like the ultra-violent UFC, which now generates more revenue than WWE and HBO combined, Human Wrecking Balls is a great distraction for those of us thinking, “What now?”

—Ryan Grim

A sampler.

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