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He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
- Albert Einstein
I just finished watching "Secrets of Street Magic Revealed" by FOX TV. As you probably suspect, I am upset and disheartened by the airing of this show. As a fellow magician I think that I speak the collective opinion that this show is a disaster for all close-up workers.
It is akin to a grand heckler. Sure we all put up with those that try to find fame in discrediting magic, but one should distinguish between the good-natured and misguided personalities of these people and FOX TV. Fox did it for one reason, and one reason only, namely money.
The magic world was shocked by the success of David Blaine's special. It was a refreshing look at magic from outside of the normal perspective. The criticisms of Blaine by other magicians are all of a technical manner, i.e. his routines were mostly store bought and lacked ingenuity - but to give credit where credit is due one must admit that Blaine got it right. He brought the magic to the people. His impromptu act was magic in its most beautiful form - magic done right before people's noses.
The only real fault by Blaine was his use of post-editing. He should not have used camera tricks at all - the beauty of the illusion is not diminished without camera edits but the magical tradition is very much slighted by the use of them. From now on all magic on television is open to the charge of camera trickery. That is a true shame.
Fox tries the ultimate mis-direction with their script. They turn the benevolent entertainment of street magic into something akin to Voodoo worship. In their closing line, "So the next time somebody tells you that they have magical abilities you'll know how it's done. And if somebody actually does we would like to meet them," one can see the overt hostile attitude of Fox. It is as if the magician is evil. This is their justification for the special, or at least it tries to justify the special, because it portrays magicians as people who lie and use trickery and therefore must be bad people.
The truth of the matter is that magic is one of the purest arts around. It requires a lot of skill and many long hours of practice. At its most simplistic magic is done to entertain, but it reaches much further than that. Magic empowers the audience to believe what should not be and to engage in wonderment at the world. Magic for entertainment is not uesd to defraud people, nor do we harm our audience in any way.
At it's heart magic is an implicit contract. It is a contract between the magician and the audience. He agrees to practice diligently in order to amaze the audience and the audience agrees to suspend reality for a short time. It is this two-way street that makes magic the awe inspiring gift that it is. Magic is perfect symbiosis - neither side is harmed in any way.
Exposing the beauty of the trick is equal to robbing a child of the idea of Santa Claus. In deciding the merits of going through life knowing how it is done, or amazed at the idea that it can be done ... ask yourself whether you would rather have a world full of wonder and imagination, or a world with no Santa Claus.