May 12, 2010

Aztec vs. Zande

Deadliest Warrior: Aztec Jaguar vs. Zande Warrior

By Mark WhittingtonDeadliest Warrior: Aztec Jaguar vs. Zande Warrior pitted two of the most exotic warriors yet to appear in the series. While most people have heard of the Aztecs, not too many people have heard of the Zande, once the terror of Central Africa.

Spoilers surely follow.
Stereotype alert:One of the interesting aspects of the portion of the show where ballistic gel dummies and animal carcasses get abused was the simulation of an Aztec sacrificial ritual, where a heart is cut out of a living body and presented to the howling masses at the foot of the pyramid. One was also surprised at the stopping power of the cotton shirt that the Aztec jaguar used as body armor.The outcome:In the final combat, the overall superiority of the Zande weapons won the day. The Zande was able to hit the Aztec at long and mid range to wear him down before going into the kill. While the obsidian sword was deadly and could have finished the combat had the Aztec gotten in a good cut, the Zande barbed spear finished the Aztec, ripping out his insides.Comment:  Obviously the Aztecs did sacrifice people. The problem is that depicting a sacrifice has nothing to do with the Aztecs' combat skills. It serves only to make the Aztecs look more barbaric and inhuman.

Does the episode put the human sacrifice in context as a deeply held religious belief? Does the episode show any of the Aztecs' achievements in art, architecture, or astronomy? Probably not.

It's as if you depicted Americans solely by showing them nuking Hiroshima. It would be accurate, technically speaking, but it wouldn't be representative or fair. Same with this episode of Deadliest Warrior. Depicting the Aztecs' human sacrifice out of context is stereotypical.

For more on the subject, see Apache vs. Gladiator and Were the Aztecs Murdering "Animals"?

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