Review: A Fight in the Street

pictured: the man, centre, would 'pallette swap' at a later date


What’s being tested?  Bearing witness to an impromptu urban duel between two or more combatants, itself played out in a random urban environment.

What we found

Pros:  Our testers found that, while most forms of violence are largely tasteless and regrettable, happening upon the physical expression of personal dissatisfaction or frustration between two or more individuals in any public arena now constitutes a rare thing, what with a ubiquitous police presence and rapid response times being the norm in most cities and towns in the United Kingdom. As such, a fight in the street can be enjoyed for its rarity value, if nothing else. However, we also found that, if the individual does enjoy observing ‘real’ violence in the wild, watching a fight in the street allows him or her to mask this terrible persuasion by allowing said individual access to the moral high ground. Street duels offer an easy solution to the younger generation, who may not have resolved an effective way of expressing or empowering themselves in what can sometimes seem an unfair world. Standing some distance from the epicentre of the scuffle and voicing such an opinion was found to be a successful way of crassly entertaining oneself while still appearing to be ‘a good sort’.

We also found that observing a street fight effectively dispelled one’s misconceptions regarding the actual process of street fighting, and the romanticisation of the forms and techniques involved. Combos and special moves are rarely evidenced, with hair pulling, shouting and shin-kicking a more common occurrence. Shouting in particular represents the bulk of the interaction between pavement combatants, and our testers observed that many kinds of inventive, if ultimately nonsensical uses of the English language could be enjoyed on such an occasion.  That said, unexpected street battles are often the place to see the newest street moves, as they often feed off of the white heat of curbside improvisation. The Guernsey Scrimp and the Power Nan both debuted in unexpected fights last year, and have enjoyed considerable press since.

 Cons:  We found that, due to the unpredictable scheduling of spontaneous street fights, it was very difficult to plan effectively for one, and almost impossible to pre-book. As such, it was easy to waste an enormous amount of time just trying to see two people beat one another up in an unprofessional and unscripted way. We also found that the fights themselves are very rarely evenly matched, with, in most cases, one duelist being irrational, angry and thwarted by life, with the other bewildered and physically powerless in the face of unexpected circumstances. As such, most fights on the streets are relatively short affairs. While many individuals may prefer this (one of our testers likened it to a pugilistic form of Haiku), others may be disappointed by the brevity of the rare urban novelty on show. Well choreographed gang fights are also something of a rarity these days.

 Verdict: On balance, our testers concluded that, while spontaneous fighting in the streets may be a somewhat unsettling thing to witness, that same feeling of unsettlement is exactly why such experiences are so important. We found that unchecked aggression in an otherwise civil environment acts almost as a form of social punctum, and helps us appreciate how intricate and delicate the fabric of our civil moral code, upheld almost instinctually by the vast majority of us, really is. One of our testers also noted that watching people fight in the street makes you feel better about yourself because, as bad as it gets, you’ll never end up just fighting someone in the street. This may be true, though we could not entirely guarantee that we would never fight anyone in streets at some point in time in the future, if we haven’t already fought someone in the streets already.


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