Monday, March 22, 2010

Project 365 (81/365): Criss Angel's "Daring" Building Escape

.:81/365: Criss Angel’s “Daring” Building Escape:.

This much-hyped performance by Criss Angel has got to be one of the most maligned acts in recent memory, to my recollection. I don’t really know if it’s because the escape seemed so contrived, or so needlessly dangerous, or so unbearably reeking of fakeness, or full of logical gaps that appear to be gamed in favour of Angel, but ultimately, this stunt has polarized more people when it comes to Angel, more than any of his other acts.

It’s a simple premise, really. Trap Criss Angel in a condemned building set to be imploded, and see if he can get out in time. Have cameras track as much of this whole stunt as possible, but *conveniently* disappear from covering his escape the moment the building is blown up so as to maintain the suspense.

Yes, you can tell I’m not too big a fan of Criss Angel. Bear with me, though.

Criss Angel manages to safely get away from the whole thing, and lives to fight another day. He takes his applause, and people start talking about how he did it, or if it was even a legitimate escape to begin with. Either way, he has gotten people talking and he has demonstrated a deep appreciation for Harry Houdini in the multiple times he has done escapes or performed magic that Houdini has done during his career, such as making an elephant vanish.

If you watched the video, in reality, there should be no need for Angel to use any trickery, to begin with. Escaping from a building and lockpicking his way out shouldn’t be that difficult for someone supposedly as skilled as he is, because he’s been doing it for years, right? Nonetheless, the choice of shots, the pandering drama, all of it just results in a polarizing outcome where you have half of the people watching genuinely concerned for Angel’s well-being, and the other half morbidly wishing he doesn’t make it out of the building in time because he’s such an insufferable ham.

Still, he has performed a pretty nifty escape act, and for that, I must acknowledge him, whether or not I do like his style. I just wish he’d stop doing these made-for-TV stunts, because it sets back the integrity of TV magic by decades. In an age where special effects are the norm, we’d at least like to prove that what magicians do on TV, they can actually really do live.

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