The epic foolishness of the Daily Mail is so reliable that I only need to pick up a copy every three months or so, and I will be sure to find something that so incenses me that it will sustain righteous indignation for another season.
Yesterday, I skipped the front page (in any case I can no longer distinguish it from the Private Eye “Asylum seekers cause house price fears” spoofs), and chanced upon a full page article worrying about magician David Blaine’s new stunt, due to begin today. As you probably know, he is going to be sealed up in box above the Thames for 44 days.
The article was unmatchable Mail writing, segueing uncontrollably between mutually contradictory complaints without demonstrating any self-awareness.
First and last, it worried that the stunt was ’sick’, Blaine going without food when there are so many starving people in the world. Thank heavens there’s at least one newspaper, then, that will hold out against a modern world obsessing with fad acts of starvation, like diets. What’s that? Oh.
Second, it pointed out that Blaine will be supplied water by tube (or “fed by tube” according to some sources), but there is nothing to stop nutrients being slipped into the supply. Gosh. Do you think?
Third, the hack had contacted a nutritional expert (hooray!) to ask just how impossible the stunt is. His answer was essentially that it was “very survivable”. Now, given that one of the magician’s stocks in trade is playing off the audience’s mistaken assumptions as to what can and cannot be safely achieved, this is a fair point, if not exactly what Blaine would wish to be publicised.
Fortunately for Mail watchers everywhere, this led not to the sensible conclusion that Blaine is an efficient (if tiresomely one-noted) showman, but to the scandalous idea that he might not be telling the truth.
This, let’s not forget, is the man who only this week pretended to cut off part of his ear in a press conference. Hands up those who think he really did that? Exactly.
Blaine is what they used to call a stage magician (except he works on TV, not in theatres); a conjuror. Beginning, and, were sanity to prevail, end of story. By worrying that the mystery man might not be all above board, the Mail is playing up to his self-publicity perfectly. At least they get an article out of it, even if it leaves the readership no better informed than when they began.
Finally, and most specially, the article was headlined “David Blaine: Houdini or Hoaxer”, encapsulating perfectly the sense that the Mail simply has no idea what it’s talking about. My Houdini-was-a-stage-magician-you-oafs rant will have to wait for another day. Suffice to say that no doubt the great performer would have found the idea of being contrasted with ‘hoaxers’ amusing and satisfying.
Then again, if the rather obvious Blaine can send the Mail into a tailspin, maybe it’s not so much of a compliment after all.