The Problem with "Magic"

Antonio Diavolo

Elite Member
Jan 2, 2016
1,093
882
24
California
Hey everyone!

Magic on the internet has always been kind of conflicting to me. I don't mean exposure or anything. I just mean watching recorded performances of magic online. I love watching it myself but I know it's also not really the best way for laymen to experience it.

I also always get tempted to read through the comments which is most often a mistake. There's people confidently but incorrectly attempting to explain the trick, people actually exposing the trick and sometimes linking to a purchase page, people saying the trick is "easy" because they watched it at 25% speed 10 times and finally caught the move. It's essentially a lawless wasteland and can be kind of discouraging. I personally find it amusing but that's just me.

However, there's one type of comment that seems to have come up more often recently:

"Cool tricks but i don't believe in magic. In tricks, yes for sure, but magic... nah. And to make me believe in that, you have to show it for real, without tricks AND then prove that it was not a trick. Otherwise, i will remain where i'am."

"dude .. 'magic' is just bollocks .. expensive gimmicks .. cannot fool me .. fool yourself and others.. but stop trying to make me 'believe' stupid shit xD"

"That was cool but the title is misleading. This isn't magic, it's just parlor tricks."


It's people taking issue with the use of the word "magic" trick.

I've tried explaining to some of them that the word "magic" just describes the feeling and we aren't trying to claim to have real powers. They would say things along the lines of "Then don't call yourself a magician/don't say you do magic", or "Why not call yourself a 'trickster' then so that people aren't confused about your intentions".

I know YouTube comments aren't really home to the brightest people, but it does have me worried that there are people out there who feel challenged by the use of the words "magic trick" and "magician".

I would hope that none of us perform in a way where we're trying to get our audiences to believe in real magic. However, it seems that there are people out there who hear these terms and immediately assume that we are trying to convince them of something that isn't true, rather than entertain them.

I've thought about changing my terminology in the past and leaving out mentions of "magic" and "magician" entirely. The problem is, most people are already familiar with these terms. I feel like if you call yourself a "mystifier" or a "conjuror" and show people some incredible magic, when they recount the story later they'll likely just say "I saw a really good magician" (I don't think this applies to mentalists though). This isn't a bad thing. It's just that people know what a magician is and what they do. I also think it's kinda cheesy to try to be like "I'm an illusionist" or something along those lines when you do closeup magic. It seems futile to try to avoid the label. You're a magician, might as well own it.

I know we're always told not to actively challenge our spectators but how do you deal with someone who feels challenged by the premise alone? Should we just ignore them?
 
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WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,879
2,945
Don't read the comments.

The internet is not a great representation of how an audience genuinely reacts. People say things like this online because there's no one to stop them from doing so, and no real consequences to their actions.

Most likely the commentors are either
A) Trying to get clout by stating a 'controversial' opinion
B) Trying to troll the poster/other commentors
or
C) Genuinely just not bright

In any of those cases, it's not worth it to worry about them. It's like playing chess with a pigeon; the pigeon will just knock the pieces over, crap on the board, and strut around as if it had genuinely won.

Video is definitely not the best medium for magic. It forces the performer to make compromises they'd rarely have to use in real live performances, such as super strict angles and framing, in order to do anything that suits the medium. There is also the problem that anything on video will have a built in explanation - editing. Even if the trick is being done genuinely, there's always the chance that it's just being faked and that will always significantly dampen the possible reactions.

So my advice is this: The opinions of random strangers is only worth what they have paid you to see the performance.
 
Sep 7, 2022
33
3
I've never met anyone who reacts that way with a casual presentation of a magic trick.

But I generally dislike serious presentations, claims to powers, obviously false anecdotes and statements, pretentious waffle, and people who present magic as something other than a trick.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,744
4,076
New Jersey
I think that magic requires a suspension of belief. That is, you have to suspend you belief that magic isn't real and just enjoy the illusion.

It is much like a movie with special effects. You know that what is happening isn't real but you don't care.

If a magician is entertaining enough, the people won't care if he really doesn't have special powers.
 
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