Even in the ghoulish world of "reality" television, Monday's two-hour special featuring stuntman David Blaine was a new low.
A hundred minutes of hype on ABC led up to Blaine's attempt to set the world's record for holding his breath underwater. The spectacular title of the presentation, "David Blaine: Drowned Alive," apparently was in keeping with the network's desire to attract viewers during sweeps week. Right, there's nothing like watching someone drown on live TV.
Blaine already had spent a week tethered to an oxygen tube and floating in a water-filled bubble positioned on the plaza of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. His plan was to cap that feat by chaining himself into the tank and breaking the world's record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds for holding his breath underwater.
Almost 2 minutes short of that goal, Blaine was pulled from the water by divers who had observed his face contorted in pain and bubbles coming to the surface, a sign that Blaine was becoming unconscious. He had held his breath for 7 minutes and 8 seconds.
A doctor who had been monitoring Blaine's condition throughout the week said he had told Blaine "he needed to get out of the water, and he refused me. He said he did not want to let the people down."
Oh, please. How long Blaine can hold his breath has absolutely no impact on the lives of any of his onlookers. Supposedly he was well-paid for his effort, even though it failed, but that would seem to be the only significant impact of the stunt. Could it be there will be another well-publicized attempt?
We can only hope that people who tuned in to the show weren't really wanting to see Blaine die on camera, but they should be ashamed of themselves for feeding the mentality of ABC producers who staged this ghoulish spectacle. What's next? A return to gladiators fighting lions in the Coliseum? Enough is enough.