I’ll admit it, I love Dodgeball. It has a great cast, it’s funny, and it has the line “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!” Chuck Norris is in it; heck, Shatner’s in it.
But my favourite character is Steve the Pirate.
You can’t help but love a character called Steve the Pirate, who wanders a backstreet gym dressed as a buccaneer for no apparent reason. This guy is dedicated – he’s made a life choice and he’s sticking to it, because while it’s eccentric and bizarre, it’s also awesome. Who cares what people think? Steve’s gonna be a pirate and no-one’s going to stop him.
Of course, at the darkest point in the film, when all seems lost and where the forces of body fascism are in the ascendancy, Steve loses sight of this. He cuts his hair, puts on normal clothes, talks like an everyday guy off the street. His dream is killed by a couple of drive-by dumbasses and Vince Vaughan. It’s probably the saddest moment of the movie.
That’s because there’s a Dodgeball spectrum. On one end of this is Ben Stiller’s character, egotistical, image-obsessed, almost fascistic – “We’re better than you!” goes his company motto, monolithic and corporate, impossible to live up to but keep giving us money anyway.
On the other side of things is Steve the Pirate – individualistic, eccentric, true to himself. He talks like a pirate because… Well, we don’t know, we just love that he does it. The fact that he can stop doing it shows that he’s not crazy, he’s just a man who decided one day to live out his dream. That’s worthy of respect, and maybe a little envy. Be true to who you are, even if that means talking like a pirate all day.
Of course, the reason the film gets away with this is because Steve the Pirate is played by Alan Tudyk, who’s great in everything. He’s great playing with toy dinosaurs in Firefly, gets the most emotionally involving moment in Serenity, and he’s the best thing by far to happen to the live-action Transformers franchise. He’s the reason Steve the Pirate works, so this is as much a tribute to Alan Tudyk as it is to the concept of Steve the Pirate. Respect is due.
And so today isn’t just about talking like a pirate. You might not want to talk like a pirate. You might want to talk like a cowboy, or maybe Yoda. And if you do then go for it, because being yourself is important and, frankly, life’s just too short. And yes, I know that’s cliched but it’s also true.