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Why are we attracted to daredevils?

Today Erindira Wallenda dangled over Niagara Falls from a helecopter holding on by her teeth. I’m not even making this up. Why are we so fascinated with stupid stuff people do?

When I was a little kid I remember watching Evel Knievel on television, jumping over stuff on his motorcycle. In his storied career (if that’s what you call it), he smashed most of his bones. I recall being glued to the screen, but no matter what happened it wasn’t going to be satisfying and the same goes for today’s goofy stunt.

We don’t want to watch Erindira Wallenda lose her grip and fall to her death. And yet, if she is successful, it’s just another day at the office. I suppose we are attracted to the tension, the possibility of disaster. Other members of the daredevil Wallenda family have died, right? Previous failures offer credibility to the whole business.

What motivates a daredevil? What they do is as far away from the work-a-day world as you can imagine. And what do you do for a living? I face death, and what do you do? Maybe some people need the thrill the way addicts need their drugs? Perhaps they’re addicted to risk.

Remember Fernwood 2 Nite, the old Martin Mull tall show spoof? Barth Gimble had a recurring guest named Virgil Simms, a daredevil with a plan to jump over 3 motorcycles with full-sized, fully equipped mobile home……

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