As thirty minute documentaries go this wasn’t a bad effort at all. As part of BBC1’s Our Lives, it focused on the life of Glaswegian, Kimberly Benson. Kim being twenty-six years old and said to be Scotland’s most popular female wrestler right now.
Through a combination of fly-on-the-wall footage and present day interviews, what we got was a documentary that was engaging, interesting and at times moving. In fact, you could easily argue that because the subject matter was so intriguing, then justifiably it could have run for an hour instead of just half an hour like it did.
The most pleasing aspect of this programme was that it challenged stereotypes and stigma surrounding female body image. Kim(known as Viper in the wrestling world) is a large lady and so she spoke about how during her ten years in the wrestling business thus far, she has had to fight preconceived ideas about her abilities due to her size. As wrestling promoter Mark Dallas said on camera, many see Kim as a role model(a positive one for younger girls).
Narrated well throughout by Edith Bowman, we learned of Kim’s supportive family and how vital a support network they are for her. To help pay the bills, we also found out that Kim worked for the family coach hire business.
Contrasts and polar opposites in Kim’s life are what gave this documentary an emotive quality. For example, Kim talked about the adrenaline rush of putting on great wrestling performances, countered then by the injuries and toll that it takes on her body. Kim told us, ”It’s torture but it’s great”.
In the midst of her living her wrestling dream via touring the world and receiving much fandom, we saw Kim at her most vulnerable when she described to us just how lonely this world can feel at times. She told us, ”being in the spotlight is the loneliest place in the world”.
Kim also talked of regrets when it came to missing out on building up relationships with people due to all the travelling involved overseas. ”You belong to everybody and nobody at the same time”, is how she best described it to us. Moments like this were moving to watch without being overplayed though.
Visually, we saw numerous stunning establishing shots of Japanese architecture, as we followed Kim over there for her all important double title match against Toni Storm. These glorious sights of Japan definitely added a sense of the spectacle to the piece.
Critically speaking, it would have been extremely insightful to have got Kim’s opinion on the female wrestlers that work for the WWE(arguably the biggest wrestling promotion in the world). Here, it appears to me that unfortunately the male gaze is still very prevalent with female wrestlers and that indeed size does still matter.
It also would have been interesting to have heard more from other female wrestlers that she competed against. Were they too following a lifelong dream like Kim I wondered? Including what some male wrestlers thought of their female counterparts would have been good too.
All in all, a great little documentary that had brilliant aspirational undertones throughout. 4/5.