You Jump. I Watch. We Dumb.

Balcony jumping? Really? I know there have been death-defying acts performed by daredevils forever. There were a number of people willing to either tightrope across or go over Niagara Falls in a barrel dating as far back as the 1800s. But such events were promoted with the intent of generating both spectators and revenue. Nowadays, there seems to be this gradual push towards committing as stupid and as dangerous an act as possible, and without the benefit of a paying crowd. Six people have recently died as a result of “balcony jumping”, the act of jumping from one balcony to another or into a pool far below. (I guess the acts of “planking” and “owling” are either too silly or tame for some.)

I’ve sometimes considered bungee jumping as the original act used to get the ball rolling towards a self-destructive and nihilistic culture. After all, how much more deranged is it for someone to fall face first toward the earth with the chance of snapping the proverbial ‘lifeline’ tethered high above? Harry Houdini and Evil Knievel were two daredevils who, at least, approached their craft with respect and skill. On the other hand, the “Jackass” movies have helped to both entertain and encourage stupid behavior while creating faux celebrities, such as Ryan Dunn, who died recently as a result of imagining he was Mario Andretti at the Indy 500.

I understand the “need for speed” and the desire to push the limits of our boundaries. But imagine NASA, over the past 40 years, recklessly blasting one orbiter after another toward the ozone until one finally breaks through, all the while losing life, limb and property. Even something as visually disorganized as a demolition derby knows enough to employ safety measures and rules for participants to abide by. Speaking of which, my wife and I are planning on attending the Scott County Fair’s demo derby this weekend. I wonder if some jackass will step out on the field to start up a rousing game of Dodge Car.


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