Magicians - Pretentious?

JD

Jul 5, 2009
638
1
Longview, Texas
C-c-c-combo breaker! I think someone will post soon that will contain an ungodly long post explaining why we aren't pretentious, why magic should be viewed as art, and the other beaten to death arguments.
 
Nov 20, 2007
4,434
6
Sydney, Australia
C-c-c-combo breaker! I think someone will post soon that will contain an ungodly long post explaining why we aren't pretentious, why magic should be viewed as art, and the other beaten to death arguments.

So I see a few posts agree with the OP... I do too, to a certain extent...

So what? What does this mean?

I'd like to see discussion stemming from this. So we agree, what does that mean for us and our magic? Thoughts like this are useful, but if they don't get thought about, then what's the point in noting these things? What's the point of noting that magicians often disguise the true reasons why they do magic, to use another thread, if it doesn't make us think about why we actually do magic?

My two cents: I agree because the stereotype is there, and I generally believe that stereotypes are based on an element of truth. I think it's slightly unfair to leave it at the OP's original statement though because it implies that a large majority of magicians are pretentious, and I'm not sure that's the case. However, the question remains, what are we to do about it?

This is one of the main problems I have about the way magic is taught these days. The nature of magic products has a definite technical focus - how to do tricks, how to do sleights, whereas very few products teach you how to be a magician. Being able to do tricks makes you a circus pony, not a magician. Unfortunately, many magicians are concerned with being ponies, rather than creating magic. This in my view is related to the pretentiousness stereotype, because the study of tricks is, quite often, an exercise in social stature rather than creating magic. This isn't quite as well thought out as I had intended, but at least a thought is out there...
 
Oct 14, 2007
186
0
41
Burbank, CA
So I see a few posts agree with the OP... I do too, to a certain extent...

So what? What does this mean?

I'd like to see discussion stemming from this. So we agree, what does that mean for us and our magic? Thoughts like this are useful, but if they don't get thought about, then what's the point in noting these things? What's the point of noting that magicians often disguise the true reasons why they do magic, to use another thread, if it doesn't make us think about why we actually do magic?

My two cents: I agree because the stereotype is there, and I generally believe that stereotypes are based on an element of truth. I think it's slightly unfair to leave it at the OP's original statement though because it implies that a large majority of magicians are pretentious, and I'm not sure that's the case. However, the question remains, what are we to do about it?

This is one of the main problems I have about the way magic is taught these days. The nature of magic products has a definite technical focus - how to do tricks, how to do sleights, whereas very few products teach you how to be a magician. Being able to do tricks makes you a circus pony, not a magician. Unfortunately, many magicians are concerned with being ponies, rather than creating magic. This in my view is related to the pretentiousness stereotype, because the study of tricks is, quite often, an exercise in social stature rather than creating magic. This isn't quite as well thought out as I had intended, but at least a thought is out there...

I think I see what you mean and I would just like to add one to it. There is a definite focus on learning tricks, learning new methods, and learning hte technical aspects of magic. There is a huge lack of material focusing on how to be a better performer or how to better engage with people. Sure there are books out there, but the products that come out every month are 99% new effects. I think there are things any of us can do so that we don't take ourselves so seriously. One thing I have personally done is to join the Toastmasters International public speaking club. All of the types of speeches you learn to give require you to think about the audience. You learn how to engage people and entertain them. In other words, a large part of what you do as a speaker is focusing on your audience and their needs. I learned how to have a lot more fun with people this way which helped me personally not take myself so seriously. I used to feel like an elitist because I knew I could do things no one else could in any social situation. I think this is not a healthy attitude to have and people will pick up on it and be turned off. No matter what your reason for performing, I think it's good to know that you're no better than anyone else. We all have two arms and two legs, we all have a lot of heart, we're all here for a short time, and then we'll all turn back into the dirt we're made of. That's called a run-on sentence I believe hahaha. So, I think it's very important to ditch the attitude and connect with people and have fun with them regardless of your reason for performing in the first place. Creating magic isn't even my priority anymore. My main priority is to have fun with people and have a good time. Magic is just the tool that helps me accomplish that but it is just a means to an end.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Jan 1, 2009
2,249
3
Back in Time
There's nothing wrong with taking what you do seriously. If you actually put the effort into your magic and creativity into, then you should be proud of it.

Yes, some people will think this is a bit "pretentious." and well they can go bugger off.
 

JD

Jul 5, 2009
638
1
Longview, Texas
There's nothing wrong with taking what you do seriously. If you actually put the effort into your magic and creativity into, then you should be proud of it.

Yes, some people will think this is a bit "pretentious." and well they can go bugger off.

Buggering off now...
 
Aug 10, 2008
2,051
1
30
In a rock concert
okay, just to add something to the discussion, are we talking about the magicians point of view or the laymens point of view?

Do we magicians see ourselves as pretentious? or are you talking about people in general?

If you are talking about people in general I would say that it depends on the way that you perform and present yourself, but in a general point of view of us? I really wouldn't know, I have talked about this with some muggles and there are mixed opinions on this.
 
Sep 17, 2007
86
1
Yeah, this is a HUGE generalization. Honestly, most magicians I meet are super nice guys and far from pretentious. They take what they do seriously but know that at the end of the day, it's just card tricks (or whatever genre of magic they're into). Of course, you're always going to run into a few jerks who think they and their magic are hugely self important.

From a laymen's point of view, they might think some stage illusionists come off as pretentious but close up guys? Not many close up guys seem pretentious when they perform. Pretentiousness is a great way to alienate people, especially in an intimate environment like close up magic. Unless, of course, they are being a jerk in a jokey, tongue-in-cheek way.
 
Nov 20, 2007
4,434
6
Sydney, Australia
Yeah, this is a HUGE generalization. Honestly, most magicians I meet are super nice guys and far from pretentious. They take what they do seriously but know that at the end of the day, it's just card tricks (or whatever genre of magic they're into). Of course, you're always going to run into a few jerks who think they and their magic are hugely self important.

From a laymen's point of view, they might think some stage illusionists come off as pretentious but close up guys? Not many close up guys seem pretentious when they perform. Pretentiousness is a great way to alienate people, especially in an intimate environment like close up magic. Unless, of course, they are being a jerk in a jokey, tongue-in-cheek way.

Cameron, I definitely don't disagree with you when you talk about generalisation. However, I would like to point a few facts out.

1. The majority of members on T11 are between 13 and 18 years old.

2. Many people use magic as, at worst, a social crutch, or at best, a way in which they can learn to socialise.

3. Magic gives you a certain power, and, performed well, can give you certain prestige amongst your peers.

Given 3, and with the combination of 1 and 2 in mind, it is not difficult to see how pretentiousness can be an issue more relevant here than perhaps the magic world that you work in. Not a knock on you by any means, just a note that the T11 demographics are a little different, and that what may be true in general may warrant more examination here.
 
Sep 17, 2007
86
1
No, I totally get that. But I have yet to meet any pretentious 13 to 18 year old performers. :) The young magicians I meet are usually nice, shy guys.

Now, if we're strictly talking about internet magicians, then, yes, there is a lot of pretentious on the magic forums in general. A lot of ranting about "THIS is what magic is", when it's fairly obvious the poster has pretty much no performing experience and doesn't know much about magic. But it's easy to boast on the internet. I have a feeling that in real life, most of these guys don't come across as pretentious at all.
 

JD

Jul 5, 2009
638
1
Longview, Texas
Yeah, this is a HUGE generalization. Honestly, most magicians I meet are super nice guys and far from pretentious. They take what they do seriously but know that at the end of the day, it's just card tricks (or whatever genre of magic they're into). Of course, you're always going to run into a few jerks who think they and their magic are hugely self important.

From a laymen's point of view, they might think some stage illusionists come off as pretentious but close up guys? Not many close up guys seem pretentious when they perform. Pretentiousness is a great way to alienate people, especially in an intimate environment like close up magic. Unless, of course, they are being a jerk in a jokey, tongue-in-cheek way.

I was actually thinking about this last night. I agree with you 100% on what you've said Cameron.
 
Nov 20, 2007
4,434
6
Sydney, Australia
Now, if we're strictly talking about internet magicians, then, yes, there is a lot of pretentious on the magic forums in general. A lot of ranting about "THIS is what magic is", when it's fairly obvious the poster has pretty much no performing experience and doesn't know much about magic. But it's easy to boast on the internet. I have a feeling that in real life, most of these guys don't come across as pretentious at all.

Fair point, actually...
 
Pretentious to whom?

Other magicians, or laymen? Because if it's to laymen, then there is no worry there. Of course someone who is an expert in their field will look down on people who aren't.

Heck, how many of you are good with computers and look down on someone who doesn't know what ctrl+alt+del does?

If you have the skill, take pride in it, but not so much that you cease learning.
 
Sep 17, 2007
86
1
Man, I have to respectfully disagree with you, there. I think the last thing we should do is come across as pretentious to lay people. The only thing you will do is alienate them. If anything, we need to be engaging and draw them in. Make them feel good about themselves. Otherwise they'll wind up hating magicians.

People who are good in their field shouldn't look down on people who are not. They should help them to be better.

I personally don't tolerate out of control egos. Some people will say, "But he's really good. He's allowed to be egotistical." I think excusing appalling behavior is a dangerous thing. It only enables worse behavior. Confidence is one thing, but being a cocky jerk is another thing completely. I don't think anyone should treat people with disdain, no matter how good they are at something. You can be great at what you do and still be a decent human being.
 
Oct 14, 2007
186
0
41
Burbank, CA
I got to say one professional who is not pretentious is Gregory Wilson. That guy is funny and friendly on and off stage. I was even called up by him during his act and I was laughing the whole time even though I knew what he was doing. I only encountered one magician at the Castle who was really pretentious off stage and I was really disappointed in his behavior. I get the feeling more that internet magicians or those who focus mostly on the technical aspects are more prone to this undesirable trait. I wouldn't even call a lot of them performers and some are very well known and respected. But, they are more respected for their technical skills than performance skills. Personally, I just don't look at magic as an art. I'm not saying it's not an art but I never really looked at it that way. I see it more as a tool, and this tool has helped me in many ways. It's helped me learn how to engage people, have fun with them, learn from them, and most importantly share with them a unique experience. Often, I will go up to people and just meet them without doing any magic at all. I feel confident in my ability to interact with all types of people in all types of situations. I don't always need to pull out my tools and perform. I think it's important not to forget that it is just a tool, and that helps me keep my ego in check. Don't know if that makes any sense to anyone else but it's just my opinion on the matter.
 
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