A 26 year old Chinese man died while attempting to do pull-ups from the ledge of a 62-story building on 8 Nov of this year. The video of his death was just released:
Young Wu was known as the, “Godfather of Rooftopping,” a death-defying style of Performance Art whereby young men climb to the tops of tall buildings, radio towers, bridges etc.. and film themselves doing insanely stupid things. Sometimes they perform handstands from the top-floor ledges of 100-story buildings, sometimes they ride skateboards along the edge with half the board teetering perilously over the ledge.
The primary reason they do this, as you might expect, is money.
My thoughts about their secondary motivation are discussed later in the post.
Wu Yongning video-captured all of his stunts and made them available on various Social Media platforms where they’ve been viewed literally millions of times. As you may know, each video view garners a small amount of ad revenue, so the more people who watch, the more the video uploader gets paid. His video exploits have been viewed millions of times. It’s being reported that this final stunt was actually being sponsored by an un-named company, and that he was going to be compensated approximately $15,000.00 US Dollars upon completion.
I’ve tried to watch some of these videos, Wu’s and others, but I can’t make it all the way through. After about 30 seconds of watching, the bottoms of my feet literally start sweating from the rise in my high-anxiety level.
When I try to understand what would compel a young man to risk his life doing something so foolish, all I can do is reflect on this observation from Nick Alwaes in the classic detective novel, The Look of the Dead Fish
“He had to, because Death, to all young men, is an unfortunate condition visited only upon the elderly, the infirm, and the unlucky – none of which they ever expect to be.”
Maybe this is a sad tale about rites of passage – or rather the lack of them – for young men these days. No longer does your tribe expect you to climb a mountain, spend a week alone in the wilderness, slay a wild beast etc..to join the ranks of manhood. Now the young men just make it up as they go – racing motorcycles down the freeway, riding on the tops of trains, carrying pistols around, dangling from tall buildings – whatever danger they can find.
We’ve made a lot of technical progress over the last few hundred years, but sometimes, when old ways die, nothing worthwhile fills the void.
R I P Wu
**Originally Posted on 12 Dec 2017**