Yesterday, in my jet-lagged stupor, I watched David Blaine perform a very dangerous stunt that risked his life on Oprah. I knew that it was a very dangerous stunt that risked his life because every ten seconds Oprah would say to David Blaine's doctor, "This is very dangerous, and he is risking his life," to which the doctor would invariably reply, "Yes. It is extremely dangerous, and he is really risking his life."
The other ways that Oprah filled the interminably long 35 minutes leading up to David Blaine's attempted drowning in a giant flake-free snow-globe were a 5-minute segment about how the globe was constructed (something about the hot, hot flames of hell forging the sides of the orb), lots of breathtakingly awkward breath-holding banter with the doctor ("You told me that you feel like you're holding your breath watching David hold his breath." "Yes. I am holding my breath, you know, hoping he is okay." ZING!), a "how David trained" montage that included David Blaine explaining why he sleeps in a tent (it makes dreaming of bears easier), and tons of long, luxurious shots of people in wet suits crouching (I might have imagined this, due to the jet-lag). Then David Blaine held his breath for seventeen minutes (during which there were commercials), but I'm pretty sure he cheated because he was exhaling boredom all over my television.
What was never explained, however, during the entirety of this teeth grindingly dull show was why anyone should care whether or not David Blaine breaks the record for being the world's most boring Houdini wannabe. I realize that Oprah is the place for assholes (case in point, for today's show, Oprah converted her set into a giant pink cupcake box to host a Sex & The City movie discussion), but why should anyone care what this particular asshole does with his assholey time?
In addition to being the most boring Houdini wannabe, Blaine is simply the least convincing Houdini wannabe. Why? Houdini was a showman. There was a sense of fun and excitement about the things that Houdini did. David Blaine is a guy who floats in a giant, flake-free snow-globe while wearing a heart monitor—which is pretty much the exact opposite of being a showman. Short of actually drowning, the least thing Blaine could have done was pretend to drown, or flap his arms underwater in a state of fake panic, or eat a sub sandwich (get it?) underwater, or sink to the bottom of the globe, sit at an anchored desk and do his taxes ("This is a very dangerous stunt, and David is risking his life…and doing his taxes!"). That would have added an element of, you know, entertainment to the stunt.
Houdini never explained how he has to eat 5 small meals a day "like an athlete" in order to be able to hold his breath underwater. Houdini never slept in a tent that simulates high-altitude. Houdini never waxed on and on about his childhood dreams. Why not? Houdini wasn't dull. And, really, David Blaine? Your biggest childhood dream was to hold your breath underwater like Houdini? Why should all of America suffer for your terrible childhood in this way? Couldn't you have just opened a magic store in a strip mall somewhere, or starred on Night Court like all the other people in the world who can't get over their childhood idolization of Houdini?
I'm really looking forward the the 2-hour prime time special, Oprah Presents Don't Blink: David Blaine's Two-Hour Staring Contest With America