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What people will watch

Posted at 4:57 PM on July 16, 2007 by Euan Kerr

This isn't so much about movies, as what people will watch. On our trip to Chicago over the weekend, we stopped at a certain well-known footwear store, where we saw the Metal Man.

He stands swathed in silver make-up and clothing, and stands stock-still for the passing crowds. He has a similarly painted mannequin as a posing partner. If you put a buck in his bucket, he'll pose with someone.

There are actually a bunch of these guys, working both sides of the street, and occasionally spelling each other.

Anyway, we watched for a while then proceeded down Michigan Avenue.

A little later Malcolm the 16 year old announced he really wanted a particular tee-shirt he had seen at the footwear store, and he headed back, just in time to see the Metal Man empty his bucket and head across the street to the coffee shop for lunch.

Having seen enough athletic footwear to last a lifetime, we sat outside in the sun to do some people watching.

We suddenly became aware of there was another crowd gathering nearby. Some people had stopped to look at the Metal Man, and were amazed at how still he stood.

Which was not surprising given that "he" was the mannequin.

It's human nature that when someone stops to look at something, people coming by will also stop to see what is of interest. The two or three curious people quickly swelled to a crowd of 50.

And what was amazing was they stayed and stared, on and on, just waiting for the mannequin to move. This was despite the fact that the mannequin had one foot in an old milk crate (not painted silver,) held down by large gym hand weights.

Some folk were so impressed with the Metal Guy's skill that they threw cash into the bucket. Then they moved on along the Avenue, allowing more people to push in at the back, necks craning to see the show.

Which just goes to prove what movie impresarios have known for years: people will watch anything if there's a crowd.

(Then the real Metal Man came back with his sandwich and slowly ate it, sitting on his plinth. And people stood and stared.)

July 2007
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