‘Daredevils’ as experimental figures

The recent Channel 4 series ‘Daredevils’ relate closely to the question of human experimentality in the non-academic but popular TV celebrity context. They exemplify an array of social themes and problematic questions about the nature of the experiment, its dissemination and public understanding.

Channel 4 website describes the ‘Daredevils’ as ‘[a] series of visually stunning films following some of the world's most extreme individuals, who risk their lives pushing themselves to the physical and mental limits of human capability’ (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/daredevils). Watch on YouTube.

As a viewer, I was particularly interested in the recurring social themes connecting the episodes:

  • the middle class habitus of the majority of the so-called ‘extreme individuals’ (i.e. ‘The Human Bird’ son of Malibu multi-millionaires, Jeb Corliss or inventor Gilo Cardozo known for his association with Bear Grylls)
  • a dialectic of those whose acts involve risking their lives in unconventional ways (Such as Alain Roberts - ‘The Human Spider’ or Dean Potter - ‘The Sky Walker’) and of those who mostly risk their status and consider a failure in terms of embarrassment (i.e. inventor Gilo Cardozo who promotes ‘The Flying Car’)
  • the ways in which experimentality of these people affects their families – worrying about the possibility of ‘daredevils’ death and living in constant uncertainty, despite financial security deriving from the general interest of media in the stunts (such as in the case of ‘The Ice Man’ Wim Hof)
  • the general interest of media in the modes of experimentality that are perceived in terms of extremity, danger and transgressing human limitations.