Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

The Tournament: Pop Culture Battle Royale Edition!

You're boring, but you inspired us!

We’re doing something a little different with The Tournament this month! The Hunger Games releases on Friday and because of that we got to thinking about its far superior Japanese precursor Battle Royale. Specifically, we got to thinking about what would happen if we dumped 40 teenage characters from the realm of film and television onto a deserted island and forced them to kill each other on the battlefield of our imagination.

Welcome to The Tournament: Battle Royale edition!

If you weren’t around for our action-packed Tournament of 80s Badasses or it’s equally pulse-quickening Tournament of 90s Badasses, maybe you should check those out to get an idea of the high quality mix of critical film analysis, scientific prognostication, and fan fiction that we provide. However, we’re not dealing with badass action stars this time or a single elimination tournament, so the rules are slightly different.

The field of 40 is assembled using the following guidelines:
-The field will consist of 20 boys and 20 girls
-Competitors must be of school age (not necessarily high school age, or even teenagers), but do not necessarily have to actively be attending school
-No super powers are allowed

This Tournament will be contested under Battle Royale rules. Never seen it? You should remedy that immediately. Here’s a taste:

Battle Royale rules:
-Competitors kill each other until only one is left alive
-Each competitor is wearing an explosive collar that will detonate if tampered with or if the competitor goes out of bounds
-Competitors are given a backpack of random gear at the start of the game; some will get weapons, some medical supplies, and some totally useless shit

How are we judging our field of fictional characters?
-Ultimately, the question being asked is “who would survive?”
-Characters will be judged not only on their physical skills, but on their planning, cunning, ability to form alliances, etc.
-There will be an element of randomization to when characters encounter each other in order to factor in the chaos of a Battle Royale situation
-Results will be decided by a panel of: editors Jeff Hart and Jeremiah White, a perfectly constructed simulacrum of Nanahara Shuya, and any influential comments made by our readers

There won’t be a bracket for this Tournament because the anarchy inherent to 40 teenagers killing each other cannot be contained! Instead, once all our entrants are revealed, we’ll be uploading a survey type thing where you can predict a winner and take educated guesses at a variety of other questions.

Whoever scores the highest will receive a prize! Maybe tickets to Hunger Games, maybe a DVD, maybe a t-shirt we have laying around the office – who knows. You’ll also have your names etched alongside past winners Zook and Dan M. in the annals of Tournament history. Predict correctly and with energy!

Now that the rules are out of the way, let’s reveal the first group of our Pop Culture Battle Royale entrants!

(#1) Dylan McKay (Luke Perry, Beverly Hills 90210)

A trust fund baby bad boy with an unhealthy appetite for booze, brooding and breaking hearts, McKay is not an ideal candidate to face the harsh realities of mortal combat. His existence has been far from idyllic though. He watched his father die by car bomb (allegedly), went through a brief period where he was obsessed with self defense and, oh yeah, there's that time he went to Mexico to reclaim his fortune from a couple of con artists and had to subdue some dude with a sword.

What's in his backpack? A length of heavy duty rope. Because sometimes we confuse Dylan with the character from that rodeo movie.

(#2) Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone, Clueless)

If this were a fashion Battle Royale, Cher would be one of the favorites. Since it is fight to the death instead, the outlook for Bronson Alcott High’s most popular student is considerably less sunny. Cher will only get as far as her incessant meddling in the lives of others will take her. Will it be enough to turn the pampered princess into this event’s Cinderella?

What's in her backpack? A loaded gun. Because Battle Royale organizers wanted to even the odds, and also because she was once carjacked.

(#3-4) Kim Kelly & Daniel Desario (Busy Phillips & James Franco, Freaks and Geeks)

Representing freaks and stoners everywhere, Daniel Desario and Kim Kelly might need to shed their apathetic burnout attitudes if they’re going to survive for long in the Battle Royale. This frequently troubled couple could surprise some people if they can manage to work together, although Daniel’s never been the most dependable or faithful boyfriend. Kelly, on her own, is the more physical threat, so Desario would be smart to stick with her. Stealth probably won’t be an option for these two; the pot smell might as well be a flare gun.

What's in their backpacks? Desario has a small fuel tank, Kelly the business end of a flamethrower. Can they live long enough to put these pieces together? If they do, what will they use a flamethrower to light?

(#5) Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder, Heathers)

Which Veronica Sawyer will arrive at the battleground? The lowly nerd? Or the member of Westerburg High’s cruel and superficial chick clique? Or the vindictive psycho who plots revenge on her classmates backed by a Big Fun soundtrack? That’s the question plaguing pundits as the contest draws near.

What's in her backpack? A single dose of poison. In case Veronica decides to take the easy way out.

(#6) Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze, Red Dawn)

Perhaps the most experienced survivalist in the field, Jed spent months outwitting the Soviets in the Colorado woods. How could a group of students – no matter how diverse and perhaps deadly – possibly measure up to an invading army? With his tactical expertise and combat bonafides, it seems like Eckert should be a clear favorite. There’s gonna be a lot of new names carved on Partisan Rock.

What's in his backpack? A hunting knife. Simple, effective.

(#7) Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman, Rushmore)

Easily one of the field’s most ambitious entrants, Fischer also has a nasty streak reserved for those who bruise his oversized yet brittle ego. His extensive background in the dramatic theater of war has furnished Fischer with a working knowledge of explosives and incendiaries. Typically embracing the least direct form of conflict available, he may quickly find his back against the wall in a contest that forces close proximity.

What's in his backpack? An air rifle. Might be useful for blowing off some mick's ear.

(#8) Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass)

The Battle Royale’s youngest entrant is also its most adorable and perhaps its most deadly. The adolescent super-hero/sociopath Hit Girl is foul-mouthed, brutal, and a highly trained martial artist. She’s also particularly deadly with an edged weapon, if she can get her little hands on one. However, Hit Girl is also overzealous and typically at a size disadvantage; can she make it through the Battle Royale without Big Daddy watching her back?

What's in her backpack? A bulletproof vest. She might need to absorb some damage.

(#9) Joey Potter (Katie Holmes, Dawson's Creek)

This is nothing like one of Dawson’s horror movies! Introverted and tomboyish, Joey Potter is the kind of angst-addled girl-next-door found in pleasant suburban high schools across America. After years of navigating the emotional minefield of a love square in Capeside, is Potter prepared for the kind of ultraviolence she’s about to be thrust into? Does she have a secret cache of emotional pain to draw upon? We kind of doubt it. I don’t wanna wait for our lives to be over…

What's in her backpack? A set of walkie-talkies. Dawson, do you read? Dawson?

(#10) Roland Bishop (Tupac Shakur, Juice)

More familiar with the streets of Harlem than the halls of high school, Bishop is perhaps one of the only entrants who actually knows what it is like to murder a peer. He's a classic thrill killer who gets his kicks from senseless violence and old James Cagney movies. Undisciplined, unhinged and unpredictable, Bishop will likely thrive in the chaos of Battle Royale.

What's in his backpack? A TEC-9. The automatic weapon would make Bishop an odds-on favorite, except it didn't come loaded. Who has the ammo?


There are still 30 participants yet to be revealed, but if you've seen enough proceed to our online survey and enter your Battle Royale predictions!


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6 Responses »


  2. This is Stephan Urquelle's title to lose.

  3. I think Urkel is disqualified. No super powers are allowed.
    Now, I don't want to delve to deeply into the "Family Matters mythology" (<--yay for stuff that has probably never been typed by anyone else before!!), but I'm pretty sure there's some weird super power shit going on when Urkel turns into Stephan Urquelle. Shape shifting? DNA alteration? Super athleticism?

    I know, I know, it's all done by a crazy machine and whatnot. But still, special powers that are generated by some third-party object should still be considered super powers (Look no further than Green Lantern and his ring as a reference), and are therefore disqualified.


  4. I guess that makes sense. Nevertheless he would have been a favorite. Him and Grandmama. Grandmama made it right???


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