Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I ♥ NY

So, I did it. I watched David Blaine’s “Drowned Alive” special last night on ABC. In case you’ve been dead for the past week or so, magician David Blaine submerged himself in a spherical tank of water outside Lincoln Center for 7 days before attempting to break the world record for longest breath held under water (how’s that for a long crafty sentence, huh?)

Okay, first I need to take issue with something. I have a problem with the title of the stunt, “Drowned Alive.” Now there are a few definitions for the word “drowned.” 1. To muffle or mask (a sound) by a louder sound. 2. To deaden one's awareness of; blot out. 3. To drench thoroughly or cover with or as if with a liquid (I didn’t write these definitions). 4. To kill by submerging and suffocating in water or another liquid.

Okay, technically speaking, what David did was drown himself alive, as per the third definition that I just mentioned. But I know that they were using the word “drowned” to elicit some kind of panic response in the viewers through publicity. That’s why they didn’t call the stunt “Dunked in a large Spherical Tank Alive!” It just doesn’t have quite the punch.

The David Blaine publicity machine wanted the audience to feel as if David Blaine had survived being drowned. Like the death kind of “drowned.” Not the “don’t drown your food” form of the word.

But here’s my issue. Can anyone, ever, be drowned not alive? Isn’t being alive to begin with pretty much a prerequisite to drowning? You can’t drown a dead guy can you? I’m speaking of course of the “drowned” that means “To kill by submerging and suffocating in water or another liquid.” The term that they’re using to elicit the emotional response. Not the “drowned” that they’re using to be technically correct.

See, here’s the problem. It’s getting very confusing. And it’s taking up more blog real estate than I anticipated. But let me try to clear up my frustration with the title of David Blaine’s stunt. Because, I think that this is pointing to a bigger problem, and that’s the American marketing mechanism in general. I can’t handle all the double entendre. Sure, if it’s funny…

But there’s nothing funny about being drowned.

Unless you’re being drowned in a landslide of rubber chickens.

Anyway. David Blane’s people got together and said “hey how about we call the stunt…’Drowned Alive?!”

To which David said, “what?! You mean that I have to drown?!”

“Oh, no, David” the marketing people said “we looked it up and – technically – as long as you’re covered in something you’re drowning.”


“Oh, yeah.” They sit back in their ergonomic desk chairs and tent their fingers, “legally, we’re not lying to anyone.”

Their maniacal laughter filled the office high-rise.

Now, if a word has two definitions, then, to me, it’s two words. And how can you use two words at the same time? You can’t. Unless you use double entendre. But double entendre should only be used to titillate, not to tease.

“I’d really like to come up and see your home office.” is titillating. It’s taking something as innocuous as a “home office” and loading it with double meaning (granted, that double meaning is nonsensical… but it’s still titillating).

David Blaine was “drowned alive!” is taking something exciting, like a drowning, and making it just some technical doubletalk. “Drowning” as in dying and “drowning” as in covering with goop are two separate things. That’s why you’ll never hear this exchange at the local swimming pool.

“Hey, honey, how are the kids enjoying the kiddie pool?”

“Oh, they love it…in fact they’re drowning right now.”

“Drowning?! Help! Help! Why don’t you save them?!”

“Why would I save them? How do you expect kids to enjoy the kiddie pool if they can’t drown themselves in it every once in a while?”

“You’re a sick man, Harold. Mother was right!”

Yeah, this whole argument is making me tired. It’s just not that important. If David Blaine wants to drown himself, but not really, then what business is it of mine?

Fun Fact: I was really glad to see the crowd’s reaction to David Blaine’s stunt last night. It made me happy to be an American. There were nothing but cheers of support.

When David fasted in a box in London, people did nothing but pester him. They taunted him. They threw crap at him.


They felt that his stunt was too superfluous. Unnecessary.

Well, duh.

That’s the whole point. And what’s more pathetic? A man who hangs himself in a box in London for 44 days without food for no good reason, or the weirdoes who take the time out of their day to come down and throw hamburgers at that man?

I love New Yorkers. New Yorkers can at least appreciate something that’s completely unessential. I mean, they’ve put up with Donald Trump for years.

Good for you, Gothamites!

Oh, and the latest TAM Cartoon is up! Alsosuperfluousational!

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