Little to say for myself

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Nil By Mouth

Meg saw David Blaine in his box recently, and had good things to say about the fact that he's supposedly going to earn millions for choosing to do something that the poorest in the world can't avoid. The fact that he's volunteered for it doesn't make it impressive. There are masses of people out there who would do the same willingly if they thought they'd be paid the same amount.

's a funny thing. In many ways I'm loath to write anything about the tosser, because the mere act of writing about his stunt means it succeeds, which is something I don't want to be part of. Fortunately, anything I write here is of too little consequence to affect matters, so I will.

A friend said last week "I don't get it. The man's an illusionist. He makes a living out of trying to trick people into thinking that there's something superhuman going on, when in fact there isn't. He clearly wants us to think he's only drinking water, but he has to be getting other nutrients through that tube."

I don't agree. Yes he's an illusionist, but I think the illusion he's perpetrating is not that he appears to be going without nutrition when he isn't. I think the illusion he's created is that going without food for 44 days is a death-defying feat of some kind, when it isn't. Not when you can pile on the pounds beforehand, can have a full medical check-up, can be kept safe and warm, can avoid expending energy and can have access to clean fresh water. OK, so I'll admit it's a feat of endurance - but it's not particularly dangerous compared with the life of, say, displaced African refugees.

People who enjoy things like Big Brother get drawn in by the sheer duration of it. If you observe or are exposed to a wholly unremarkable set of people for long enough, you develop a relationship with them (the perverse thing with BB is that the relationship is one-way. They don't know you). In normal life, everyone feels their circle of friends is something special, and in many ways it is. But when it comes down to it, they're just a bunch of ordinary, unremarkable people. If you didn't know them, you wouldn't feel particularly compelled to get know them - it's just that you do know them, so you care. Your family is an even more extreme example of how a group of ordinary people can take on such huge significance that you'd lay down your life for them.

Blaine's stunt is a cynical attempt to elicit the Big Brother effect. Exhibit yourself in an extremely public place, with continuous TV and online coverage, for an inordinately long period of time, and people will feel associated with you in the way they do with those twats on Big Brother. In order to command all that air time, there needs to be a purpose for it - what can someone be doing continuously for weeks on end? No-one can actually perform a continuous activity for that long, and Blaine's brainwave was to choose the complete absence of activity. Hence the starvation thing. The really perverse thing is that he's deliberately doing even less than anyone else normally does. At least the BB household had conversations, ate meals, got pissed, completed tasks, flirted with each other. The most we see him do, as Meg says, is sip water and poo (although presumably his anus will have healed over pretty soon through neglect).

Although I don't suppose this will happen, my dream is that the egg-throwing and breast-baring will peter out, people will drift away, and by the end of the 44 days everyone will have lost interest with the sheer boringness of his inactivity. Then all we need is for some momentous event to occur in mid October which will divert everyone's attention away from his truimphant emergence from his goldfish bowl, and he'll go back to palming cards on street corners.

posted by Plig | 12:03 |

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