David Blaine's Dive of Death: I don't get it

Davidblaine_lDuring my lunch break today, I decided to walk up to Wollman Rink in Manhattan’s Central Park to check out David Blaine’s latest stunt. I have better things to do with my time, to be sure, but I’ve always been curious about David Blaine: Not in that “Oh, he’s so amazing” way, but in that “What is this guy’s deal?” way. Apparently, I’m not the only cynic around. I overheard a few middle-aged ladies walking ahead of me, saying, “He’s just doing a stupid stunt; he’s not a magician.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. And it isn’t a matter of stripping Blaine of his magician-ship, it’s that this particular event — Blaine suspended upside down, in the air, for 60 hours, the two-hour finale of which will be aired on ABC tomorrow night — is not magical. It’s a stunt. For publicity. (In the last 24 hours, I’ve received at least four press releases about the event.)

Before you call me a hater, this was the scene at the rink: Scaffolding everywhere, people snapping pictures, at least seven camera crews standing by for a press conference, security guys in suits with Secret Service-like earbuds, and red rope separating the public from Blaine. Meanwhile, the stuntman was not hanging. Nope.

More on David Blaine’s stunt after the jump…

addCredit(“Bryan Bedder/Getty Images”)

When I got there, Blaine was taking a break. He was thirsty. And it was time for the doctorson hand to check his vital signs. So there he was: standing upright,drinking bottled water. There was no diving and no death (though theformer, which is supposed to be some sort of 44-foot plunge, is to takeplace tomorrow). One guy on his lunch break said to his friend,“Dude gets water breaks?” while another man nearby said, “Itdoesn’t count [if he isn’t doing it continuously]. I could do that.”

Finally, after 15 minutes or so, Blaine went back to being upside-down. There wasn’t much to see. He just hung. If you recallChristo’s Central Park installation The Gates in 2005, the saffron flags just hung too,sometimes fluttering in the breeze, but at least the latter was sort of mesmerizing. One young woman standing next to me was justas perplexed: “He’s just going to hang there?” Eh, yep.

After checking Blaine’s vitals, Dr. Massimo Napolitano (who wasasked by the network producer to be a “scientific adviser”) held apress conference. I’m paraphrasing here, but this is basically what he said: "David is doing very well. His vital signs are stable.This is an incredible feat for the body. Don’t underestimate what he’sdoing. He was sort of sluggish last night. He has to urinate againstgravity, which is not good for the kidneys." You don’t say. The docsaid he should be checked on every hour, because this stunt needs a lotof monitoring — which in my mind sort of defies the meaning of aspectacular act, doesn’t it? There’s no need to worry about Blaine’songoing exposure to the sun, either: When it gets to be too much,Blaine’s harness is lowered so that an umbrella man can protect himfrom the rays. Seriously.

I suspect Blaine needs attention to subsist (both mentally andfinancially) — and I’m not saying this to be a jerk, but perhaps I’vefailed to understand Blaine. On the surface, this stunt doesn’t provemuch of anything, except that maybe Blaine is improving his stamina forall things physically counterintuitive. Simply put, this stunt is notmotivated by passion. If you want to see passion, go check out Man on Wire,which is still playing at some theaters. It’s a documentary aboutFrench high-wire artist Philippe Petit, whose dream it was to walk on awire strung between the Twin Towers. It was on his wish list for aboutsix-and-a-half years before his team actually planned out how they wouldillegally gain access to the roof of the towers and then rig the wire.It took eight months to map it out, but on August 7, 1974, they prevailed:Petit walked, danced, and even lay down on a wire suspended 1,350 feet in the air. Hedid not alert the press. He did not have a two-hour primetime special.Doctors weren’t there checking his vital signs, advising him that thiscould be the ultimate Dive of Death. He just did it — a true stunt, andfor those who saw it, a magical one at that.

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Comments (629 total) Add your comment
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  • Kent

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. This guys stunts aren’t interesting or entertaining. I just happened upon the post. Who cares.

  • confidential

    The sad part about this trickless majician is that there will only be a story he is dies while performing one of these trickless stunts. Of course Donald Trump is his greatest fan!

  • Mario

    What I think really sucks is that I thought he used to be a really good magician when he was doing his “street magic”. That was cool, but lately all he does are these strange endurance performances. It’d be nice if he went back to his old stuff.

  • Ed

    Id like to see him fall off this damn thing

  • Nick

    David Blaine needs to go back to 2001 and stay there.

    • destin

      Quit hating on what he is doing. I suppose you can succeed the stunt?
      huh.
      you probably can’t even stand on one foot for 30 seconds.
      get a life.
      you meaningless insect.

  • Mike

    A great tribute to Phillppe Petit concludes a great criticism of a fraud.

  • ED

    Ed,
    That’s mean. Hater!

  • Joe Satriani

    You see, if you guys knew anything about “magic”, David happens to be quite a good close up magician.

  • Max1961

    C’mon Dave, We are not impressed. Come on down and go home and go to bed. Maybe that will get you a round of applause!

  • chuck

    Come on people, both him and Chris Angel both use TV magic. Editing works wonders. Only good magician is one who does the trick in front of you, not from the TV in front of you!!

    • destin

      True. But i highly belive that they need somehting to make their work ‘travel faster’
      they just can’t go up to everyone in the world and perform.
      but some of the things they do is slightly ‘fake’
      camera tricks are not professional.
      i agree.

      “what you see is what you get”

  • Sara

    Well, I also spent an hour there today watching Mr. Blaine. What surprised me is within that hour he only spend maybe 25 minutes of it hanging upside down. He took 2 drink breaks, 1 bathroom break (he’s not peeing upside down, he was stood upright and had a blanket around him). He also spent most of the time when he was hanging with his head held up by a ‘hammock’ type brace for his head. He even looked somewhat comfortable!
    The whole thing was ridiculous, and like a fool, I stood there fascinated. lol

    • destin

      some of that wasn’t nessescary.

      you know…what he done.
      but you have to agree that it would still be very difficult to perform.

      all of his other stunts are very extreme.
      this was just one of the weakest ones

  • zhuxiaonuan

    The whole thing was ridiculous, and like a fool, I stood there fascinated. http://www.baidu-seor.cn

    http://www.xinyangmed.net

  • dave

    I agree. All his stunts in central park are endurance events (boring); not magic.

  • Chuck Terzella

    What a dope…Blaine, not the writer.

  • raghavendra

    There is a Yogi named Pilot baba who will be visiting NYC on October.
    Pilot Baba has been buried under the earth for 5 days…He has been under water for 3 days also.
    more at http://www.pilotbaba.us

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