“Like Papa Wallenda said, ‘Life is on the wire. The rest is just waiting.'” – Mike McD (Matt Damon) in the greatest film ever made, Rounders
So the world – well, the internet, at least – was taken by storm on Sunday night as high wire artist Nik Wallenda walked across a tightrope that stretched across the Grand Canyon. That’s all fine and good, but here’s my question: why?
Obviously, I feel like there’s no need to even do stuff like this, but some people do, so it happens. What I want to know is why we make a spectacle out of it and put it on pseudo-live television (there was a 10-second delay to the broadcast, most likely in case of any profanities that could potentially be uttered or any plummeting-to-his-deaths that could potentially happen). I mean, essentially you’re watching a guy walk for 20 minutes, or fall to his death. Sounds riveting to me!
I mean, I understand the edge-of-your-seat-ness. Will he make it? Will he fall? But the very fact that there’s a chance that a man could die on national television, and that that is the reason why everyone is watching in the first place, is very unsettling to me. Why don’t we stage a show where six death row inmates sit around a table and play Russian Roulette? You could have a big pre-game setup, like the Kentucky Derby or the Super Bowl, learn who the inmates are, what their crimes were, all that stuff, and then at like 12:07 a.m. (it would have to air very late, and on cable), let the game begin! The only negative is that if the first guy finds the bullet, then you’ll have to fill some more air time at the end, and you won’t have much to recap.
Does that sound ridiculous to you? Well, if you watched “Skywire,” that’s essentially what you tuned into the Discovery Channel for on Sunday night. Nik Wallenda spun the revolver, and this time, his chamber was empty.
Needless to say, this kind of stuff has no appeal to me, but I ended up watching it because someone texted me and told me to. I had nothing better to do, and I figured it would be something people were talking about.
I think I’m sending that person a bill for those 30 minutes of my life that I will never get back. Or the pitch for “Death Row Russian Roulette.”