A YouTube “star” climbed to the top of the great pyramids of Giza and winded up in an Egyptian jail because of it. Social Media has allowed some quite talented young people to emerge into public awareness much sooner and with greater ease than in the past. Online platforms have also made “stars” of some young people solely because they pull outrageous stunts, film themselves doing it, then post the videos online and watch the views pour in.
Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are particularly common ways to air unusual stunts, and one YouTube host, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy, landed him in an Egyptian jail for five days.
Authorities requesting that visitors respect and leave landmarks unsullied seems to be meaningless to some – like the young man arrested in 2017 in Rome for jumping into the Trevi Fountain naked. Detailed in Travel + Leisure, he was charged with resisting arrest, as well as breaking Italian law, which says that retrieving coins from the fountain and throwing garbage into it are also illegal. And so is swimming in it, of course, with or without clothes. The Trevi Fountain was renovated in 2016, and some are considering restricting the public from approaching fountain to preserve it, according to CNN Travel.
The latest incident took place in Egypt, which has, over the past several years, taken a more active role in protecting antiquities that have often been climbed on, stolen from, and damaged. Vitaly Zdorovetskiy scaled the Pyramid of Giza in early January. He posted pictures on his Instagram account, and a video has appeared online as well.
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I did this for a good cause and it put me 5 nights in Egyptian jail. Even though I’ve been in jail around the world many times for my previous stunts, this one has been the most horrible experience of my life. Let’s unite and donate for Australia.I hope the world will hear me!
The actions of the Youtube star climbing the great pyramids landed him in jail for five days – a reasonable consequence, one could argue, considering the frailty of the ancient historical site and the danger of the act. Zdorovetskiy also said he hoped to raise funds for a good cause, although how the money would be spent is unclear.
At the top of the pyramid, Daily Mail reports he videoed himself saying, “Stop the war, help Australia – let’s raise money.” After being released from jail, Zdorovetskiy shared a link to a Go Fund Me page for his millions of social media followers.
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The self-described “influencer” said on his Instagram page that the experience in jail was awful. Although Egyptian officials have not confirmed or denied the personality’s social media statements, they have banned him from entering the country for the foreseeable future.
Zdorovetskiy has taken down the articles about the arrest, but the photos remain on his site, which seem to call folks to action to do as they see fit in life, saying that “fear does not exist!” and the mantra, “Your Life, Your Choice!” He doesn’t seem to comment so much on considering how one’s actions might affect others. A quick glance at his profile reveals several of these catchy, but perhaps impulsive, mantras.
Clearly Zdorovetskiy chooses not to pay attention to the laws of the jurisdiction in which he finds himself during a shoot. Hyperallergic reports that just recently, Egypt’s government passed a law banning anyone from climbing any archaeological site like the pyramids as they are vulnerable and cannot be climbed without endangering them. Zdorovetskiy probably got off easy; the law allows police to imprison an offender for up to one month and impose a fine that amounts to between $62,000 and $620,000.
This wasn’t the first time – nor is it likely to be the last – that Zdorovetskiy has gotten himself arrested in order to plug his website and raise awareness for a cause. And he is not the first (but probably first YouTube star) to attempt to climb the great pyramids. The LA Times reports 1,600 documented fatalities from climbing the pyramids over the past 200 years.
Egypt is trying to protect antiquities that become increasingly more fragile through the ages. One wonders how much social media influences conduct and respectful behavior around these treasures. Are people really so committed to getting their 15 minutes of fame, as was coined by artist Andy Warhol, that there is no stunt that’s out of bounds?
If Zdorovetskiy and others like him are any indication, just about everything – no matter how dangerous or illegal – is fair game. As long as someone is filming the incident, of course.