A Primer on Never Backing Down

Never Back Down movie image Sean Faris

I’ve never seen the “pretty white people get into organized fistfights” opus Never Back Down, but it hasn’t stopped me from basing my personal philosophy around its title. Yes, I believe in the church/creed/general life strategy of Never Backing Down. I never had any intention of watching what looked like a pretty terrible film, and now I really have no intention of seeing it, lest it cheapen what’s become a very validating presence.

This began, like most things I take quite seriously, as a semi-ironic joke. “Never Backing Down” was a thing you did when trying to push your friends’ levels of inebriation into the red. You call an NBD, and suddenly, things like social decency and logic fall by the wayside, because dammit, not taking those extra half-dozen shots is a BD, and nobody wants to BD. In its infancy, the concept of NBD was just a semi-serious but mostly satiric rip on alpha-male challenges, designed to be called out for everything from forcing your roommates to wash dishes to imploring a friend to eat that third piece of the Pizzaburger. (Read the link. Yes, I’ve prepared and eaten that. NBD.)

Over time, though, this became more than just a moronic incantation. Really, it’s the best way to adhere to some kind of “power of positivity” notion when you don’t take yourself seriously enough to actually get on your high horse about the “Secret” or whatever that thing was that Oprah shilled a while back. It’s a means of accepting that when shit comes at you, you will not relent. You will loudly implore it to come at you, because that is at the heart of not backing down. It is a lack of equivocation, a strength and force of will in the face of adversity. However, it is not a cry for ignorance. I’m not trying to sell the Randian ideal here. Sometimes, we NBD when a BD is necessary, and must account for any involved consequences accordingly. The wise individual knows when to NBD and when to abstain.

Ridiculous? You might say so. Being that I’m either invoking a D-level action film, or possibly a Throwdown song, it’s hard not to take this as some form of sarcastic posturing. Relative to the innate absurdity (to a certain degree) of such an idea, though, there’s something genuinely life-affirming at the core. We’re now in a time where, more than ever before, we need to remember that we are alive and should really stop being so concerned about menial things that make us doubt ourselves. The world may conclude by the end of this year, whether from the Mayan apocalypse, a destroyed environment or whoever the hell ends up running the country for four more years, so why not NBD? Why not try something new, which sounds vaguely dumb but at its core displays an immediate and potent raison d’etre? I’d say it’s worth a shot. What’s there to lose? So, the next time you think about backing down, just refuse. Quietly but forcefully mutter “NBD” and move unto the breach.