Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Where's The Dad-Blaine Magic?

David Blaine needs a new job title. "Magician", "Illusionist" and even "Stunt Performer" seem inaccurate. Maybe something like "Practitioner of Self-Degradation and Punishment" would fit better. Blaine isn't a magician because there's really nothing magical about locking yourself in a box. Similarly, he's no illusionist for the same reason; he doesn't appear to be trapped in water, he is trapped in water. And even stunt performer is a bit misleading because of Blaine's utter failure to recognize the benefit of brevity. When Evel Knievel jumped across the Snake River on a motorcycle, it was a stunt. Blaine takes weeks to perform his alleged stunts. Where's the drama in that?

Blaine's antics bring to mind the sustained and voluntary public humiliation of reality television more than any sort of chicanery or sleight of hand employed by magicians. Not that I find a run-of-the-mill magic act riveting, but it's far better than a man starving himself inside containers for no good reason. Sitting in a box for 44 days without food isn't a magic trick, it's a hunger strike, like Ghandi and Dick Gregory used to do. Except they never claimed it was magic. And their fasting had a point.

Blaine calls his latest desperate attempt to draw attention to himself "Drowned Alive"; after several days underwater, he claims to be in great pain all over his body. Well, imagine that! So being submerged in water indefinitely isn't good for a person? Maybe he expected his fingers and toes to get all pruney, but that'd be the worst of it.

In an old Monty Python routine, a self-styled daredevil named Ron Obvious attempted a series of failed stunts. The first was jumping the English Channel; then he attempted to eat an entire English Church; after that, he planned to split a railway carriage with his nose, tunnel to Java and, finally, run to the planet Mercury. David Blaine is a real-life Ron Obvious, performing acts of profound stupidity and pointlessness; the difference is, Blaine isn't funny. In fact, he's dead serious about this stuff.

At least Evel Knievel and his ilk got the foolishness overwith fast and we could watch "The Six Million Dollar Man" or something. It's enough to make pulling a rabbit from a hat fresh and innovative.


Anonymous Tony H. said...

Take it all back! David Blaine is my hero. I too think his stunts are over the top and drawn out but his one on one street magic is the best. Please retract your negative statements about DB. You know as well as I that with your popularity as a blogger you could destroy this man. He does not deserve it. Think about it.

09 May, 2006 07:17  
Blogger DM said...

I, too, have heard his actual sleight of hand is brilliant, but have never seen him practice it. And you're right; with all the power I wield, I should learn to use it judiciously and magnanimously. I erred in my zeal to condemn.

09 May, 2006 21:32  
Anonymous Gata said...

Chris Rock said once: are we so hard up for entertainment that we need a trickless magician? I thought it was funny, if not quite accurate.
Still... I think it sux he didn't break the record (not to mention ended up in intensive care!). He shouldn't have spent so much time in the thing before the stunt... maybe he would have had a better chance if his body hadn't been weakened.

12 May, 2006 18:34  
Blogger DM said...

Thanks for the commentary, everyone. I think I may have as many as half a dozen readers now!

14 May, 2006 22:36  
Blogger chez said...

you now have 7 readers and can I be your biggest fan, please.

Oh and DB is a boring boring man.

19 May, 2006 00:05  

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