Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled AE picked a terrible time to remind us of Criss Angels Grand Canyon death drop illusion
Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

There’s been more than enough online reminiscing about the past decade over the last few weeks, with arguments over how far we’ve come (or regressed) since 2010. A lot of cynics may contend that we’re a far more garish culture these days, that we are increasingly gullible prey for all manner of disinformation, fake news, and trickery. Well, the fine folks at A&E made perhaps the best case yet at our perpetual stupidity: Criss Angel’s Grand Canyon “Death Jump.” However, the timing could not be worse, as they released the clip on the same day Angel revealed his five-year-old son’s cancer relapse.

A bit of background: To start off 2020 with a (totally real and not-at-all cheaply overlaid stock footage) bang, A&E posted the infamous Criss Angel Mindfreak, uh, freak of the mind on YouTube, taken from the show’s sixth and final season premiere. What is the Grand Canyon Death Jump, you may ask? Well, perhaps you forgot about this particular pop culture moment. Maybe you blocked it from your memory, or were mercifully never even aware such a video exists. In any case, prepare for your minds to be freaked.

Over the course of four excruciatingly self-serious minutes, Angel walks his audience through the very real, very dangerous stunt logistics on “sacred Hualapai Nation” territory as it very clear, very fast that any magic is of the “CGI movie” variety.

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It’s not apparent exactly why A&E decided to usher in the dawn of a new decade by reminding the world that this stunt—and we’re using the term “stunt” in the loosest sense possible here—exists in the first place. Perhaps it’s because this year is the tenth anniversary of Angel’s arguably greatest “Mindfreak.” Perhaps it’s because the channel is in the midst of its “True Crime Week,” as advertised per the video’s description despite having no relevance to said themed programming week other than being a crime against the very noble and venerable illusionist profession.

Hopefully—oh, for the love of God, hopefully—they didn’t post this clip as an odd show of solidarity for the Angel family less than 24-hours after they received the horrifically bad news that their son, Johnny, is suffering from a cancer relapse.

It’s probably worth noting that the original post on Reddit causing the ridiculous Mindfreak clip to currently sit at #9 on YouTube’s Trending videos has already been taken down. We’ve reached out to A&E for comment, and will update accordingly. In any case, it’s a helpful reminder to keep everything in perspective about our past cultural—and corporate—sins as we head into this bold new decade.

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Andrew Paul's work is recently featured by Rolling Stone, GQ, The Forward, and The Believer, as well as McSweeney's Internet Tendency and TNY's Daily Shouts.

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