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Published: 2007/09/04
by Brian Ferdman

Air Guitar Nation

Docurama films NVG-9890

“If everybody in the world was to play air guitar, or have an air guitar in their hands, they wouldn’t be able to hold a gun or a rifle.” Air Guitar Nation

Admit it. You’ve sat alone in your room and unleashed a wicked air guitar solo. Maybe you’ve taken it up a notch and gone to town on the PlayStation’s “Guitar Hero.” Or maybe you’ve even displayed your prodigious air guitar “skills” in public at a concert or party. If so, you can sympathize with the contestants in the World Air Guitar Championships, captured on the new release, Air Guitar Nation.

When Kriston Rucker and Cedric Devitt traveled to the tiny fishing village of Oulu, Finland for the 2002 World Air Guitar Championships, they had little idea of what they were getting into. Here were fanatics from around the globe fiercely competing in a highly organized competition for air guitar dominance. Inspired by what they saw, the pair set out to do what any red-blooded American would do when faced with such a challenge: they decided to prove that Americans can air guitar better than any nation on Earth.

The following year, they organized preliminary competitions in both New York and Los Angeles, and both events wound up being far bigger than anyone could have anticipated with raucous, sold-out crowds cheering on a bizarre host of performers, who were scored by judges following international figure skating guidelines. It was here that two air guitar heroes would emerge: C-Diddy, a comedic samurai warrior with a Hello Kitty breast plate, and BjT, a feisty punk with an upstart attitude. C-Diddy materializes as the favorite while BjT assumes the role of bitter rival, a man who just doesn’t know when to quit as his quest to defeat C-Diddy takes him across continents and oceans in travels that are pathetically hilarious.

When the Americans arrive in Oulu, they naturally face some resentment. George W. Bush-inspired anti-American sentiment is in the air, and to make matters worse, the Americans discover that the rest of the world takes their air guitar very seriously, as evidenced by an absurd boot camp where contestants take master classes from a former two-time champion. Is there room in this serious competition for Americans with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor? This question hangs in the tense Finnish air throughout the finals.

Air Guitar Nation is often ridiculous and way over the top, but there’s something very genuine at its core. The Europeans and Australians show a real zeal for this competition, and their commitment is simultaneously inspiring and laughable. Moreover, the rivalry between C-Diddy and BjT says a lot about refusing to quit. However, the most interesting aspect of the World Air Guitar Championships is this notion that playing the air guitar can create world peace. It sounds rather comical, but when you watch people of different cultures bonding over their silly little competition, you begin to think that this idea isn’t so silly after all. After all, if the Olympics can bring people together in the name of peace, why shouldn’t a bitchin’ air guitar solo to Motorhead be able to achieve the same result?

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