“It's your world, your massacre, and you can kill as many people as you want.”
The Joy of Killing was an American 1980s–90s instructional television show on PBS, hosted by noted hairstylist Bob "Domination Bob" Ross. In each episode, Ross would turn the landscape oil painting into a mass destruction. Although Ross could in fact destroy a landscape in 30 minutes, the intent of the show was not to teach viewers "speed destruction"; rather, he intended for viewers to learn subtle nuances within the time that the show was allotted. The show's theme song is "Interlude" by Larry Owens for Network Music, Inc. In the first season, it was an acoustic guitar tune.
The Joy of Killing was a massive success and ran for a good two decades, even spawning a video game. To this day, the series is renowned for teaching a generation of viewers how to completely destroy a picture in half an hour. The show ran from January 11, 1983 to May 17, 1994, with 403 half-hour episodes produced over 31 seasons, and was produced first by WNVC in Falls Church, Virginia, and then, by WIPB, in Muncie Indiana, and later by Blue Ridge Public Television, and currently by American Public Television. Reruns continued to air in syndication in the United States under the title Best of the Joy of Killing.
At the beginning of each episode, Demolition Bob was seen standing in front of a selection of weaponry in front of a black background. He would happily select a weapon, and explain its use to the viewer. Within 30 minutes, Ross graphically ran the colors across the screen, as he turns the landscape oil painting into a mass destruction, using the fire-on-fire technique. Ross was known for using his signature colors, such as C-4 Gray, "Charlie" Yellow, Army Green, Civilization Blue, Olive Drab, Napalm Char Black, Enemy Base Blue, Agent Orange, Spurting Ventricle Red, Vietnamese Crimson, Jihadist Brown, War Umber, and Civilian Sienna.
Ross's efforts were accompanied by a soothing monologue about the "happy explosions", and the explosion's "little friends" that he was creating with his munitions. He created scene after scene of grotesque hells, fiery landscapes, and shrapnel strewn setting. Each destruction would start with simple weapons that appeared to be nothing more than Vietnam war. As he added more and more explosions, the explosions turned into intricate destruction.
“See that Charlie village over there under the camouflage netting?" Ross once said, in his ever calm and comforting voice. "Let’s load up with a dollop of Agent Orange, and lob it, right over here. There; can't you just hear Mr. and Mrs. Charlie screaming in agony. But you could also use a bazooka and get the same results."
Ross always reminded the viewers that recipes were bound to happen when creating a scene of chaos. He frequently stated that there were no such things as "civilian casualties" or "collateral damage" and preferred to call them "happy accidents." An agent provocateur, Ross brought a special realism and familiarity with both his weapon and the canvas. This familiarity was not lost on the viewers, who anxiously anticipated each episode and the landscape oil destruction would bring. He would also have home video footage of his own life, including small animals.
The painting to the left is an example of Ross's "pretty little trees on fire" technique that has become popular in recent years, however the lack of dead squirrels, and small animals were used on the show.
At the end of each episode, Ross was known for saying: "So from all of us here, I'd like to wish you happy killing, and God bless, my friend", and then, the credits roll over a shot of the destruction, with the show's theme song "Interlude" by Larry Owens being heard.
A Joy of Killing tie-in video game was produced by LJN in 1987 for the NES. Taking advantage of Nintendo's unique control style, the game put you in the axe of our hero as he turns the landscape painting into a mass destruction, along with grotesque hells of rock and debauchery.
The Joy of Killing was a success for PBS. Ross's techniques have inspired millions to take up landscape oil destruction and experience the so-called "joy of killing" for themselves. Despite this, Ross was criticized by more hardcore painters for his simplistic technique. His fire-on-fire method was looked down upon by those who preferred the traditional method of fire-wait-fire.