Duels, or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.
This week’s duel? Ron Swanson v. Dwight Schrute in an American Gladiator Tournament.
For those not familiar with it, American Gladiators, which ran on television from 1989-1996, was a reality TV competition pitting amateur athletes against the program’s Gladiators. The male Gladiators were named as though their parents were meteorologists, insane, or most likely both. Some of the popular men were Cyclone, Flash, Nitro, Quake, Turbo, Hawk, Thor #1 and Thor #2. The female Gladiators were named for their favorite pitch-declined Disney Characters that were inspired by exotic dancers: Ice, Gold, Diamond, Flame, Panther, Tigra, Jazz #1, Jazz #2 (which I always thought was a boy’s name), as well as, Lace #1 and #2. The competition sent the challengers through a ringer of obstacles and events that challenged their strength, endurance, and tolerance for vinyl-coated foam.
Ron Swanson and Dwight Schrute are both describable with the following three words: hard working, alpha-male, jackhammer… merciless… insatiable… While sharing certain traits, these survivalists are also very different. For example, they’re at opposite ends of the political and philosophical spectrum. Ron is opposed to all government including the branch he oversees, while Dwight supports an ultra-government run by an omnipotent Sith Lord, who is in turn controlled by him via SecondLife software on his Mega-desk. Let’s take a look at what would happen if these two went at it in American Gladiator stadium.
Round 1: Human Cannonball
The object of this game: swing on a rope from an elevated platform and try to knock a Gladiator off a nearby pedestal.
Dwight would excel due to having such exceptional balance that he can sleep on a fence: "The trick is to do it face down, with the post in your mouth.” Ron refuses to compete because he would have to do two things at once, swinging and kicking, and that goes against his belief that one should never half-ass two things, but only whole ass one thing. Point: Dwight
Round 2: Joust
The contender and Gladiator face off against each other with pugil sticks. Each player stands on a separate platform, with the object to knock the opponent off.
A pugil stick is a heavily padded pole-like training weapon much like a bō staff. Dwight would be very comfortable with this staff, considering he owns an array of weaponry including: pepper spray, a compound bow, a blow dart, nunchucks, a revolver, throwing stars, a stun gun, a spud gun, a boomerang, handcuffs, a crossbow, assorted knives, a nightstick, a pair of brass knuckles, twin sais, and a jian. The jian &mdash an ancient Chinese two-sided blade, requiring heavy maintenance — is literally, and figuratively, a double-edged sword.
Also, Dwight owns an actual bō staff, so his familiarity with the pugil stick-style fighting might give him an edge. However, Ron an avid hunter is also very familiar with various weapons. Ron agrees with Dwight’s assertion that “People say, ‘oh it’s dangerous to keep weapons in the home, or the workplace.’ Well I say, it’s better to be hurt by someone you know, accidentally, than by a stranger, on purpose.” In his office alone Ron has a double-barreled, sawn-off shotgun on a swivel, a claymore mine, and Czech hedgehog defense fortification. In the end, Ron would be more conscientious with his pugil following his rule number one: “Never point your gun at a human being. That includes your own face, Donna.” Meanwhile, Dwight can retract his penis up into itself freeing him from any hesitation. Point: Dwight
Round 3: The Eliminator
This is the final event of the American Gladiator competitions in which the shows challengers race against each other over an assault course.
Dwight, who is faster than 80% of all snakes, is ahead at this point. Also, due to only having nine toes, or as he puts it “having the toes he has,” Ron struggles with balancing.
Here contenders hold onto a log and are then rolled down an incline. Ron, deft at handling wood from his woodworking and cultivating a manly musk to put his opponent on notice, overtakes Dwight at this point in the race.
For Ron, fishing is like yoga, only you still get to kill things. He surges on this event while Dwight begins to lag behind; possibly because he didn’t have any Pasta Alfredo to carbo-load or because of the excess weight he’s carrying from his resorbed twin.
Everyone knows how good Dwight is on a bicycle. And while his feet may fail him, his hands are always up to the task.
The two competitors are neck and neck at this point. They mount the giant treadmill called the “Travelator” and are both pummeled with foam boulders in a surprise attack from the Nitro, Diamond, and some of the other original Gladiators who — now unable to live in our world — still reside in the stadium. Dwight gets hit in the groin of his face, or his eyes. Ron suffers a similar fate but has an unflinching tolerance for pain after being hit by a school bus at age seven. Ron surges past a dazed Dwight and wins. Dwight earns a date with Jazz #2 as a consolation prize.
Winner: Ron “F’ing” Swanson.
Laura Jayne Martin lives and writes in New York City. She is not available for children's birthday parties.