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Why is David Blaine spoiling our view?

October 3, 2003
The Iranian

For a nation full of people who think joining the euro compromises our national identity, we Brits seem to embrace all things American without a second thought. At the same time we slag off Americans -- our way of dealing with the fact that the US runs the show.

Many feel the UK is becoming a mini-States. Young people increasingly "up talk" -- make a question out of each statement -- as American accents do. Chat show-inspired "whatevers" are bandied about willy-nilly, and it's all sooo not British.

It's no surprise that David Blaine's latest stunt has brought out the best of British yobbery and Yank-bashing. While banners of support and well-wishers greeted him in the States, eggs, paint bombs, jeers and taunts meet him here.

Even I couldn't help trying to catch his eye to give him a stern look of "What on earth do you think you're doing boy? For god's sake put some clothes on!"

What was I doing going to see him anyway, you might ask. Well, I happened to be in area and I'd never seen a semi-naked man in a Perspex box suspended 20 feet over my head before. He didn't do much. Sat up, lay down, waved a little. Bit like the Queen really. What I did find slightly disturbing was my housemate taking at least seven photos of him from different angles. God only knows why. Our home is cluttered enough without adding Blaine to the mayhem.

I was amused to find McDonald's advertising on his web-site. How many days would you be without food to submit to one of their burgers?

Blaine is treated badly in the UK because his stunt is not being performed for charity, say some, as if we would all suddenly support him, if it were. So many celebs use their charity work to raise their own profile it's rather refreshing to see someone who isn't.

Thing is, in Britain, overt self-belief and ambition are frowned upon, and nobody likes a show-off. It is a country full of eccentricity, so this young man's brand impresses no one. We don't know why he is doing it. If it really is to test his endurance to the limit, why stay not in a bath tub at home? Why is he spoiling our view?

Perhaps we miss the days when the public could taunt and throw rotten fruit at criminals who were shackled at the wrists and ankles in stocks. They, too, were suspended over the river in tiny cages for all to see. Maybe this treatment of Blaine is a manifestation of some medieval gene that otherwise only got a chance to rear its head in the school playground when we laughed at the kid with really bad skin (if, like me,you weren't laughing that kid was you).

Or maybe we just don't buy the hype surrounding this gentleman who is so desperate for attention that he is willing to allow his body to eat itself before our very eyes while wearing an adult diaper.


Shappi Khorsandi is a standup comedian in the UK.

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By Shappi Khorsandi




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