Who should we emulate, exactly?

Apr 27, 2010
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baller08.blogspot.com
Great post Steerpike.

Anyways, this will be my last post on this forum in a long time so i dont care if someone takes what im saying the wrong way or if i get banned for using foul language or whatever.

The reason? I have found the answer to one of the questions i have been given a lot of thought for quit some time. The question has been "Why is not magic moving forward" and why is not magic getting the respect and recognition we think it deserves by the public?"


I got the answer to my question after observing several threads like this on several forums. Most magicians have their head so far upp their own asses that they wont allow them self to see clearly anymore.

Completely agree. Blowhards, windbags, and people who like to talk in circles like Brad are why most people think magicians have low social IQ and are out of touch with trends and what is cool and current.

This is why Criss "got lucky" and guys like Brad didn't.


Here is the fundamental difference all this arguing comes down too: I don't think the magicians during the Letterman show represented us positively, I think it only furthers the stereotypes (an unfortunately true one) that the general public has of us.

Brad believes the magicians did fine and that people saw it and didn't dislike it.

And that's where it is. That's the baseline fundamental difference and no amount of talking in circles is going to change that. Brad sees that everything is fine and rattles off names no one cares about, I live in the real world where the Masked Magician is infinitely more of a household name than most magicians.

My "fight" here was simply to get magicians who still are young enough to not fall for the same path that guys like Brad did because it only leads to bitterness at the end.

That's it for me on this.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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Where did you hear those words?

Check out YouTube. When people aren't acting like complete apes, it's possible to get a decent impression of what the general reactions to a piece of material are going to be.

Yes I'm very curious as to who said this as well - the only thing I saw that was BAD on those letterman appearances was BAD camera angles that were out of the hands of the performers. Had that not happened they would have broke off a tip of their magic wands in your eye pussies from ****ing you up so hard. Trust me I've seen most of that stuff live and it is great.

Dan, you're a magician too. What impresses us may not necessarily impress anybody else.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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Completely agree. Blowhards, windbags, and people who like to talk in circles like Brad are why most people think magicians have low social IQ and are out of touch with trends and what is cool and current.

*takes a deep breath of air then exhales.*

Ahhh, I love the smell of Irony.
 
Dec 14, 2007
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Completely agree. Blowhards, windbags, and people who like to talk in circles like Brad are why most people think magicians have low social IQ and are out of touch with trends and what is cool and current.
This is why I asked what sepcifically about criss do you feel is worthy of emulation? What specifically is he doing that is better or different?

Is it the clothing? Is criss fashion forward? Does his choice open doors, close them, or both?

See, I think what keeps criss in the public eye is the celebrity nonsense he engages in - calling audience members foul language for not applauding, threatening reporters, and the like.

And as I've said, if you want to be famous, this may be a path worth following. But if you want to be good ...

Of course, once again you've resorted to a personal attack. Amazing you know how my audiences think of me when you repeatedly also state that no one has heard of me.

If you cannot stay on topic and discuss issues without personal attacks, please go elsewhere.

This is why Criss "got lucky" and guys like Brad didn't.

Why the personal attacks, b? Can you not defend your position by appeals to facts and logic.I don't think this approach speaks well of one's iq, social or otherwise? I choose to believe you have a point and are not just engaging in order to hurl insults at people. These types of statements undermine your central tenet. Off topic posts designed to elicit emotional responses are the definition of trolling. Please refrain.

Here is the fundamental difference all this arguing comes down too: I don't think the magicians during the Letterman show represented us positively, I think it only furthers the stereotypes (an unfortunately true one) that the general public has of us.

How so, specifically? And how do you reconcile their choices and outcome with the obstacles they had to face. In fact, why don't you tell us a bit about those obstacles ...

What did criss do when he was on letterman? Did that represent us well?

What about when criss was hired to introduce the new management of the hard rock? He only had to come out and say one name and still got it wrong? Does that represent us well?

Just spoke with a professional pianist at a show this morning. He mentioned he saw a mindfreak episode and that he thought it all looked like camera tricks and then explained how he thought the 'audience' may have been in on it.

This is a layman. Can we say criss represented us well to him?

But this is a performative contradiction - according to your logic, b, these men MUST be doing something right because they are on tv and we are not. Unless they just got lucky? Or perhaps being on tv is not the only measure of what's best for the art?
Brad believes the magicians did fine and that people saw it and didn't dislike it.

Where did I say that exactly?
I did make a comment that it was unfair to judge them given the challenges involved.

B, tell us about those challenges ...

I know some people who didn't dislike it.

I also understand, from people close to the production, that they are planning on doing it again.

So, to use b's logic, whose opinion most accurately reflects current media trends - a bunch of people (some of whom may have never done a show in their life) on a magic forum, or the executive producers of one of the longer running, valuable entertainment franchises in the us? And to take b's logic further, since more people know letterman and see his show on any given night than watch angel, shouldn't we be emulating what HE values?

And that's where it is. That's the baseline fundamental difference and no amount of talking in circles is going to change that. Brad sees that everything is fine and rattles off names no one cares about, I live in the real world where the Masked Magician is infinitely more of a household name than most magicians.

I think that says more about your households than it does the state of entertainment - which is why an understanding of demographics is critically important.

Murder she wrote was one of the most watched syndicated tv shows of the day. Made a lot of money and was talked about constantly - among older people and retirees.

More people may have watched one season of murder than will ever see mindfreak, which according to b's logic makes it more relevant, more successful, and more worthy of emulation.

It also oversimplifies things to the point of making the conclusions drawn meaningless.
I keep hearing from b that everyone not criss, not known among his circle of friends is meaningless.

Is this true? Shall we define the worth of the world by one person's knowledge base and the taste of one group of people, of a certain age and specfic soci-economic status?

Well, if we are in the business of sales and marketing, sure. And a lot of tv is about sale and marketing.

It would be amusing if it weren't so sad to see people make starry eyed statements about how the entertainment industry works when those statements in no way reflect the nuances, positive and negative, that are in play.

Did I say everything is fine, b? Where did I say that?

I do think we have perception issues. But I don't think over simplifying matters and making claims back with nothing will improve anything.

Those 'names no one cares about' are cared about. Some of them defined everything that set the entire ball of magic on tv rolling. One of the names was directly responsible for blaine having a shot which led to angel.

To ignore history is to guarantee your conclusions will be wrong. What 'is' today was defined and built by what 'was' yesterday.

Simply because they may be a name of which you are ignorant does not mean that 'name' isn't still influencing the world in ways invisible to your eyes.

And by 'the world' I mean those people and places beyond the households which you have stepped inside.

It amazes me how often people call for something new and revolutionary only to offer what's been done dozens of times before.

To the exact same results.


My "fight" here was simply to get magicians who still are young enough to not fall for the same path that guys like Brad did because it only leads to bitterness at the end.

That's it for me on this.

What is the other path, b?

Specifics.

What does someone need to be relevant and connect with an audience? Give me a plan? Do you have one? See, 'copy criss angel" is not a plan. 'Copying' is the one skill set magicians seem to have universally mastered. You imply there is an answer. You have come here to herald it's existance.

So - what is it EXACTLY?

(While any attempt at an answer would be great, you get bonus points if these tactics are in anyway new.)

But I have to ask again, b, why the attack? Are you refusing to back up statements with logic and facts or are you incapable of it?

And what power allows you to divulge my state of mind. And as you have stated repeatedly - no one has ever heard of me - then can you know what choices I've made?

Please refrain from personal attacks and unfounded allegations. Can you do that?

If you want to know how I feel, why not ask instead of guess? In fact. I'll tell you.

Since you have walked away, closing with a prescription for future generations of magicians, I will offer the following

First.

Not bitter.

Lucky.

My choices have led me to places I would have never dreamed I would have landed. The st barths party you harp on was not mentioned (at your demand) to prove any worth I have, but because to me, when I look at my life I think of that as a measure of my success. I wasn't brought on the boat to perform. The show I did was two days before. I was invited because people had a great time at the show and wanted me to come hang at their party.

Is it a failing show at the luxor?

No. But when I look back on my life I will remember that because of the choices I made, the skills I honed, and the magic I have created I got to do something I would have never even dreamed of.

And I have lots of those moments.

So do many of my peers.

Sure, they don't have a cable tv show that's synonymous with using stooges and camera tricks, but being able to travel the world doing what you love - I don't think any of them would trade a moment of it just to be on basic cable.

So, to the young magicians out there I would say success comes in many forms. For some it may be a tv series and thongs with your name on it. For some, it may be being treated like a king every time you walk into your favorite restaurant because they enjoy what you do so much.

Ultimatley at the end of your last day you get to look back and decide.

For me, If, after seeing my work, I can say people thought better of magic, considered it an art worthy of contemplation by intelligent people, I will have considered myself successful. If I can say that I created experiences that uplifted, amused, and transformed my guests while challenging my skills and imagination, I will consider myself successful. And if I can say that I left ideas that allowed others to more readily realize their vision for themselves - not what someone else says they should want to be - then I can consider myself successful.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the perks when they come.

I'm lucky to be the one who gets to benefit from them.

Luck
 
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Check out YouTube. When people aren't acting like complete apes, it's possible to get a decent impression of what the general reactions to a piece of material are going to be.



Dan, you're a magician too. What impresses us may not necessarily impress anybody else.

-True, however when I've seen these guys work it was in a lay situation - walk around at a restaurant, night club with 80% of the audience being laymen, their own showcases in live appearances or 4-wallish type one man show venues, trade shows, etc. I should have been more clear that when I saw them kill it was to lay audiences in real performing situations and venues - I did not include The Magic Castle or a magic convention in my thinking when I originally posted that - just to clarify.

one other thing that i think is important to point out is that these guys are over the age of 40 and are dressing and acting the way they should be for their age and it works for them and the magic they present. They know who they are, their style, etc and they're not trying to be something they're not - no denial that it works. They don't need to change to be more with the times, etc. Do you see Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walkin, etc trying to walk around in TAPOUT shirts and stuff like that? nope.
 
Dec 14, 2007
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Dan, you're a magician too. What impresses us may not necessarily impress anybody else.

This, along with the film student reference, is once again the same "popular" vs "good" argument.

Ultimately, though, it does point to a decision each of us must make. Do we want our work to be popular and sell to the masses, or do we want it to be interesting and appeal to those of taste?

Now, I think we can have the best of both worlds, but that is rare in any field. There are some monster musicians out there who know how to play a catchy tune. There are some film makers who never lose sight of a good story while they project beauty with light.

But you cannot simply say because something isq appreciated only by a few that it lacks value nor should it be what we strive for?

The converse of that is we should only ever produce what sells. If that were true it would be Jonas Brothers all the time.

But it makes sense for a network to get behind the Jonas's. They are an inroad to a specific demographic with money to spend. When I listen to my friend's middle school age daughters and their friends, the Jonas Brothers are what's being discussed in their households. Does that mean they are the ones we should emulate?

The world of commercial entertainment regularly deals with issues far beyond what is interesting, what is important or even what is good. Often it comes down to - how much money can we make, spending as little as possible, and can we generate other streams of income from this decision.

The arguments such as those above pit the popular against the good, and the manner in which you present it suggests that we should privilege the popular over the good.

That's a valid choice for someone to make, but they should be direct about that choice.

Kenner gave an interesting talk at MagicCon on style and Angel among other things. Criss set out to be famous. I would suppose, in his mind, popular IS more important than good. You can become good without being popular, and you can be popular without being good.

Great line from Maher, again: Remember the name Lee DeWyze - because after this week you will never hear it again.

I can understand that choice and while I have issues with it and find it uninteresting, I will defend him and his choice as an intentional "decision."

In short (realizing the irony in that clause) all artists, all performers have to decide if they wish to appeal to the lowest common denominator or to the few. In truth, most find themselves somewhere along the spectrum. But when I imagine a world where everything and everyone is motivated by being popular and selling a lot, it makes me kind of sad.

A world filled with nothing but Survivor, The Real World, and Jonas Brothers is missing a lot of beauty and genius.

Thank god for those who answer to higher causes than the bottom line or poll numbers.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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This, along with the film student reference, is once again the same "popular" vs "good" argument.

Brad, for the third and final time, that is not what I am saying. If I want to speak to someone who will turn my arguments into straw men, I will argue with a religious fundamentalist about evolution. But from you, I expect better. If all you can do is boil it down to popular vs good, then your argument is not as strong as you think it is.

My point is that stagnation and stultification is not good for anybody. Performing the same material the same way with the same archetypes and characters year in and year out is not good for magic. Evolve or die.

To turn your own analogy around, you use the Jonas Brothers, but let me reference the world of film. Meet the Spartans made an assload of money despite being nothing but 1 hour (with twenty minutes of credits and an outtakes reel) of pop culture references and gay jokes. It was popular, but low quality. On the other hand, there are high quality movies with strong artistic statements made every year that wallow in obscurity or bomb at the box office like Daybreakers.

And then there are the movies that manage to be topical, relevant, and popular and still are really, really good. Clerks 2, District 9, The Dark Knight, and Inglourious Basterds for example.

Popularity and quality are not diametrically opposed, nor are they mutually exclusive. The greatest example I know of that showcases artistic integrity, high quality, and timeless popularity in one package is Dr. Seuss. He revolutionized children's literature with "The Cat and the Hat," a book with 1,702 words and only 220 unique ones, all of which were culled from a list of 300 words compiled by child education experts that were the best to teach kids about phonics. The book was written completely in anapestic dimeter and told an interesting story with the titular character becoming immortal, enshrined in the collective cultural unconscious of several generations.

Seuss's follow-up work, "Green Eggs and Ham" similarly told an interesting story with multiple characters, a climactic end, and a moral about being open-minded. And this time he did it with only 50 unique words.

Then you look through the rest of his works. All intelligent, well-told stories that presented morals to children without preachy and presenting complex real-world issues in an understandable format. "Horton Hears a Who" was inspired by the ignorance of Americans toward the suffering of the Japanese following WWII and made the moral that every person deserves to have their voice heard. "The Lorax" was about environmentalism. "The Butter Battle Book" was about the arms race.

This is proof that one can make something good and popular. To continue acting as if the two ends are incompatible is ridiculous.
 
Dec 14, 2007
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Then why did you dismiss dan's opinions because he is one of us and likes certain things - ie, he has a trained sensability and the ability to discriminate.

If he cannot judge because he 'knows' then the only people who can judge are the masses. Good v popular.

I am not trying to misrepresent your posts, but this is what it seems you are saying.

Why did you even make the film maker reference?

That's why I asked for clarification.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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It wasn't dismissal. It was simply a reminder that our knowledge changes our perspective.

As a filmmaker, I cannot watch movies the same way as my friends do. I try to, but I'm ultimately going to have to rely on the opinions of people outside my field to fill in the gaps in my perspective.

Similarly, as a magician I cannot watch magic the same way anymore. I am impressed by things that the laity aren't. And it's very easy for all of us to forget that. It's so normal to us that we don't think of it unless we specifically train our minds to remember such things.
 
Dec 14, 2007
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It wasn't dismissal. It was simply a reminder that our knowledge changes our perspective.

As a filmmaker, I cannot watch movies the same way as my friends do. I try to, but I'm ultimately going to have to rely on the opinions of people outside my field to fill in the gaps in my perspective.

Similarly, as a magician I cannot watch magic the same way anymore. I am impressed by things that the laity aren't. And it's very easy for all of us to forget that. It's so normal to us that we don't think of it unless we specifically train our minds to remember such things.

So, what do we take from it - should we ignore people in the know and play only to credulous neophytes? Doesn't that end up killing your market the moment they start becoming informed, either through education or experience?

Whose opinions should we listen to? Whose rractions should inform our choices?

Is someone whose interests leads them to create subtle works appreciated only by the congnecenti misguided?

Or is the well known celebrity whose works sell well (for now) but who is ultimately regurigtating pleasant cliches despicable or worthy of adoration?

Artists rarely manage to appeal to both extremes.

So, which side should we privlege? Who do we emulate?
 
Sep 1, 2007
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So, what do we take from it - should we ignore people in the know and play only to credulous neophytes? Doesn't that end up killing your market the moment they start becoming informed, either through education or experience?

You're creating false dichotomies Brad. This isn't an us vs. them situation.
 

Casey Rudd

Social Director // theory11 interactive
Staff member
Jun 5, 2009
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2,551
Charleston, SC
www.instagram.com
I dont really want to get into this convo here, but Brad, you said you should back things up with statements as to why you feel this way, ect. Why in your recent post you only stated one thing without backing your claim and asked tons of other questions? Do you want to try and confuse him (which is almost impossible because Steer is the king of answering questions) to try and "win" the battle? I don't think trying to argue over a magic forum is worth the time. I would take this to a PM. It's more of a bloodbath now. To me it's ridiculous how a simple discussion flames up to an argument. Do we really have to fight here guys? I don't see the point. It's like arguing over Bill Charlton or arguing about Criss Angel being more famous than you. Is that backup okay for you Brad? :p.

Anyways, just thought I'd throw in my opinion. I know it doesn't really matter, but it's however you see it.

Cheers,

Casey
 
Dec 14, 2007
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I haven't made a claim. In fact, the questions I asked are the one I think each of us must consider. It seems steer's statements would imply we should take our cues from the popular.

I know I don't agree with that, but at the same time know you cannot ignore it completely. So - where do we aim?

Steer. Its not us v them. Did not say that.

I'm asking, as an artist, where on the scale from 'total enslavement to what is required to sell and be popular' TO 'follow your own vision and enhance your art even if only a few can recognize your genuis' do we aim for? Who in the popular conscousness magically should we emulate and where on that scale are they? Is that where we want to be?

I don't have this answer, but think it could prove fruitful to discuss it.
 
Nov 20, 2007
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Sydney, Australia
Wherever in the middle that our consciences will allow us to live with? The situation professional performers face is often one of industry vs. public. Not to say that they're mutually exclusive - but it is difficult indeed to reconcile the two, much less succeed in both.

Naturally, a professional magician needs to consider the acclaim of his audience. They are, after all, the ones with the money. Yet I suspect it is no coincidence that the best in world have a lot of respect for the art. It is after all with respect that one receives the most back from the industry and develops as a performer.

Exactly where on the scale though surely defies an exact answer. I know this is something of a copout answer, but I'm attempting to make it meaningful.

Magic is a special experience. So we should emulate those who best speak to us. Many masters of the art, in many genres, we recognise them when we see them - but even so, there will always be a select few who speak to us.

As for where we ourselves should aim - rarely does one with different ethical standards to our own change their mind. This is not an excuse for not trying, but nonetheless... It is easy to say that, and I hate to dig this up, but Angel veers heavily towards the popular, and to criticise him for that. Truth is, many newcomers will follow his way.

If you honestly believe in whatever standard you have set yourself, though - follow it as closely as you can. To lead by example and exemplify your standard will give it much more weight than you otherwise could.
 
Dec 14, 2007
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If this thread bores you, then please choose not to read it. No one is required to follow or contribute to it. I do ask, however, that those who chime in remain on topic and refrain from personal attacks.

Thanks.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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I'm asking, as an artist, where on the scale from 'total enslavement to what is required to sell and be popular' TO 'follow your own vision and enhance your art even if only a few can recognize your genuis' do we aim for? Who in the popular conscousness magically should we emulate and where on that scale are they? Is that where we want to be?

A praetoritevong said, that depends largely on the individual, does it not? On general principle, I find it expedient to listen to all opinions and create a sort of tableau. I watch for patterns to emerge and from there I can adapt.
 
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