Monday, August 4, 2008

Extremely Paintball: Beyond Something or Other--the NPPL on FSN

That's pretty close, right? Truth is I couldn't remember exactly and I'm too lazy and impatient to wait for a couple of mouse clicks to get it right. Anyway, odds are you know what I'm talking about.
Anybody who has aspirations and hopes for the future of paintball as sport has to be glad paintball, of any sort, is on TV. And FSN isn't chopped liver. The larger focus this season on personalities is also, without doubt, a wedge to making paintball more accessible and potentially interesting to a wider audience. And, of course, the paintball being featured is the sort of paintball we prefer. It's all good, thank you NPPL and I wish there was more of it.
Unfortunately there is a difference between intention and execution. Paintball on TV has a brief (disappointing) history of the best of intentions and every effort to get it right and yet--
end of the day not so much.
For this particular excursion into alienating my peers and betters I'm gonna focus on 4 specific characteristics of the current TV show.
Let's begin with the featured personalities. Great concept. The problems begin with the time alotted to the featured player. It's too short, it's too scripted and too constrained. As engaging and entertaining as Markus is asking the guys twenty questions and editing down an up close and personal look at the players mostly doesn't work. It's strained and in some cases it's painfully obvious certain players weren't chosen because they were expected to be good on camera.
Each episode has approximately 22 minutes to communicate what it wants to communicate. This season's shows are trying to show tourney action, explain the game, introduce some of the personalities of paintball, promote the events, mention the sponsors, offer some of the flavor and pageantry of the NPPL and package it all as the Next Big Thing. It turns out to be both too much and too little in the effort to try and cram everything paintball into each show.
Alas, as is now the norm the games themselves are reduced to incomprehensible snippets and cuts of paintball action stitched together, Frankenstein style, with voice over narration. Even when you know what you're looking at it's not particularly engaging. Hey, I'm sorry but it just isn't. I wish it was. This isn't a new problem, it's the original problem of filming and televising paintball and no new ground is being broken here.
Lastly, there is the esoteric and difficult to quantify Coolness Factor. Or, uh, actually the lack thereof. The show tries to be all things Paintball and it wants the presentation to be attractive, appealing, hip and cool. And that's just it. In trying to be hip and cool it's almost impossible to be hip and cool. (I will gladly admit this one is purely subjective but c'mon.)
Or, you know, it could be that paintball just isn't cool.

There you have it. If your first reaction is that old stand-bye "Why don't you go do it yourself if'n you're so smart" then you don't have a solid grasp on what smart means. If I were inclined to throwing good money after bad you'd sooner find me burning through fast women and faster cars.
On second thought maybe I'm being too hard on the NPPL/FSN crew. Maybe I'm just disillusioned by past efforts that for whatever reasons failed to fulfill the dream. Maybe I'm not seeing it because I don't believe anymore. But then I think to myself you can't manufacture excitement and sport on pure unadulterated hype--well, except for that whole X Games business.

1 comment:

ChuckC said...

You mentioned X-Games. I don't ride motorcycles or bmx bikes or skateboards, yet when I happen to come across the X-Games while channel surfing I get drawn in. In the middle of Moto X, they don't cut away to someone riding a Harley and talk about the roots of motorcycling...or during BMX cut away to a kid on a bike with training wheels...or during skateboarding cut away to that stupid bulldog we've all seen who can ride a skateboard. The reason, in my opinion, is no one cares. It's not exciting, it's not interesting, and all it would do is distract the viewer from what he/she really wants to see: the competition. I don't care to see the roots, I don't care to see personalities. I want to see the best of the best in competition. That is what I would LOVE to see in a paintball show. Cut out the pump/scenario/woods/fantasy stuff...cut out the me the tournament. When someone dives over the snake, show the replay to me in slow motion from 3 different angles. When someone gets done in the neck, THAT's the person I want to see interviewed when it's me the bloody welt while I point and laugh. Quit overloading me with useless information that I won't remember details of an hour after the show....and show me something exciting!