Celebrity Deathmatch — Claymation at its Bloodiest
When MTV was still cool… sort of
A while ago, I wrote about a show that presents a formula allowing for infinite possibilities. Though it might be a childish delight, the show gives me perspective on the fictional characters I create, but I already said that in the article. But the idea of “having two people who have something in common fight to the death” is nothing new at all. Before there was Death Battle, there was Deadliest Warrior, which I also mentioned. But before there was even Deadliest Warrior, there was this one cartoon on MTV that everybody secretly knew was awesome. Still, nobody had the balls to admit it, paving the way for Beavis and Butt-Head to become the best MTV animation ever had to offer. For those who remember it, I’m talking about Celebrity Deathmatch.
Now, MTV had a lot of cartoons over its years and even less music (ironic considering what the “M” stands for). Classics such as Beavis and Butt-Head and a spinoff of the show Daria. I could go on with the list, but the one that everybody seems to avoid talking about is the one that has a special place in my heart. It has so because I was horrified to discover at the age of 7 when I was innocently zapping through channels because back then, TV was still a thing (and they were fat too!). Nevertheless, I will never forget Celebrity Deathmatch as the first cartoon to teach me that not all cartoons are for kids, and the gruesome way because this show is as violent as it gets.
This leads me to describe what it is about: Celebrity Deathmatch is a Claymation (stop-motion animation using clay) where celebrities fight to the death (as the name would imply) in a boxing arena, and the show is both funny and bloody, and I mean bloody because all kinds of viscera fly in different directions whenever someone dies, and they do die a lot on the show. I don’t want to get too graphic with the description, but if you want to know how explicit the show was, maybe watch it yourself. Aside from the gore, there’s also a narrative and subplots featuring the recurring characters on the show, such as the two hosts or the backstage interviewer, so it’s not all just fighting (it’s mostly fighting). But this show is just another “X vs Y” format, and it beat all the others. The only difference is that in Celebrity Deathmatch, there’s no pseudoscience involved, as all the fights are scripted and are just meant for comedy and the viewer’s pleasure. However, since this is about celebrities instead of fictional/historical figures and just something that happens for fun, the “format” is bigger and has the potential to go even further.
International versions… again?
This show is ancient, and for some reason, also somewhat forgotten. It started in 1998 and ran for four seasons, and it received a revival in 2006, which two seasons if I recall correctly. They attempted to revive the show a second time but ultimately didn’t work out for unknown reasons. And maybe that’s a good thing because sometimes, good things are better when they stay in the past, instead of trying to rebrand themselves to fit the needs of contemporary audiences because the kids today won’t get it… probably. My point: if the show came out today, revival or not, it would be outdated, since the original show was based on the celebrity culture of the 90s and early 2000s, before there was such a thing as a “YouTube personality”. Not to mention that most people today probably won’t recognise some of the celebrities featured in it, considering how some of them lost face over the years.
So today, it probably wouldn’t work, but “celebrities” aren’t limited to just Hollywood because they can be all over the world. Interestingly, the original show featured a special episode entirely in German, featuring only German celebrities. I don’t know if that episode was ever broadcasted in America, but that special German episode is listed as part of the show. But this clearly shows that there’s room to include multiple nationalities in its format, and it would only be appropriate.
I remember rediscovering the show in 2004 because I didn’t know what it was called before that, as I only ever watched it by accident. But when I was the most fascinated with the show, I wanted to watch foreign celebrities fight each other, namely actors and singers that I’m familiar with, all of which are not American, let alone living in Hollywood. Of course, since the show is long dead, there’s nothing to talk about anymore. Still, considering the “format”, there would’ve been room for an international version since you can do so many things with the mere notion of “celebrity”. Of course, that would be the case if the show was still relevant. Frankly, I would rest in peace instead of having it revived again.
Just let it rest
So… an international version? As I said, there was already a German special, but I don’t know how relevant an international version was back when the show still aired. I think it was popular, but not popular enough to go outside the line where people want more of it.
Assuming there was room for an option like this, the show would have to be highly successful for others to consider going abroad with it. Considering that animation is expensive, the contemplation would be even more stressful. Long story short, this show wouldn’t have remained an esoteric masterpiece under different conditions, and then maybe more people would talk about it. But maybe it should be remembered the way it is right now because that’s what makes it excellent in that nobody is trying to change what it was.
And for that, I say just let those dead clay celebrities rest in peace… and the show too, because some things are better left unchanged.
Do you remember Celebrity Deathmatch?
I don’t meet a lot of people today who know about this. It would be cool if I could watch it with friends again. There’s just one problem: I don’t have a time machine. In any case, do say what you remember of the show, whether you watched it when it came out or just someone who recently discovered it. Because if not in this section, then where?
Celebrity Deathmatch was a fun show while it lasted, and I hope it stays that way. It’s a show that’s both coarse and extremely violent, but it’s still funny as hell. It’s not for anyone, but if you like gore (some people do) and extravagant ways to kill people, then give it a watch, and you might find a new binge. Just remember that this show is from the 90s.
An international version would’ve only been capable under stringent circumstances where the show is popular enough to warrant a scenario like this, since animation is expensive and who knows how that would’ve handled if multiple countries wanted clay celebrities too. I don’t think the world would allow something like this considering how much money there isn’t… because nobody has money nowadays.
Maybe I’ll watch an episode myself to remind myself how fantastic everything was back then. You know what… that’s exactly what I’m going to do.