File this one under bad marketing ideas, I guess.
A video of a glass walkway cracking under a man’s weight went viral in China over the weekend. In the video, the man, who appears to be a tour guide, stumbles over and falls to his knees in fear as hairline cracks spider out from under his feet, and more appear as he falls onto the glass.
The terrifying scene occurred at the walkway around the eastern face of the Taihang Mountain in Hebei, China. The glass path hangs 1,180 metres (3,871 feet) above sea level, with a direct view of the drop down.
Here’s the video that’s going viral, for obvious reasons.
But apparently, it’s not real.
The East Taihang district administration sent out an official apology [link in Chinese] on its WeChat channel, to explain that the splintering glass was merely an “effect” it worked into a portion of its bridge, in order to be “provocative.”
It said that the walkway designers had placed shattered fragments of glass in one of the layers, stretching across several panels at the end of the bridge. When you walk over those panels, the glass appears to shatter under your feet, and you can even hear the sound of glass breaking as you walk.
So the glass isn’t really breaking, it just looks and sounds like it. Apparently.
And while the people in charge are “very sorry that people got frightened,” they don’t intend to replace those shattered panels with regular ones, because they hope people will want to come and experience them, the letter says at the end.
As for the tour guide in the video, they said he knew what was going on. If you look closely at the end, he looks like he breaks out in a bit of a smile before the video cuts off. So maybe he’s in on the joke, after all?
People on Weibo also noted that there was a guy walking in the opposite direction in the video, fairly unfazed by the cracks appearing under his feet, possibly lending more weight to the idea that the cracks were fake.
Publicity stunt or otherwise, people were pretty unamused on Weibo. Many pointed out that even if the effect is simulated, the risk of triggering a heart attack is very real.
It’s hard to tell if the glass walkway did break. In China’s notoriously controlled media space, apology letters like those could easily be cover-ups, if the district is worried a video like this could affect tourism numbers.
In 2015, the Yuntai glass pathway in Henan cracked. It was closed after much panic.
Later in 2015, the owners of the much hyped Zhangjiajie bridge held numerous publicity rounds of “safety testing,” in order to assure the public of its structural soundness ahead of launch. The media stunts included driving huge SUVs over the bridge, and getting strongmen to smash the glass panels with mallets.