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daffydoug
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Well, Chris Angel's Mind freak starts tonight, and I got to thinking...

My first exposure to magic was in the sixties with Mark Wilson's "Magic Land of Alakazam." Man my memories of that are wonderful, but the contrast between that first Magic on TV and today is incredible.

If any of you are familiar with those shows, we might describe the magic as , uh, for lack of a better word.."polite"

well, polite magic don't cut it today...ESPECIALLY if you want a TV special or series as Angel has. To put it shortly, today's cutting edge magic is NOT polite!

The generation we live in is so much different than what they were in the sixties when I watched mark perform on his TV show. Today's audiences thrive on "shock" and that is what Chris is good at.


can you imagine Mark Wilson trying to pitch a show to the execs at CBS in the sixties that had the word FREAK in the title??!! Ha ha ha! It would have crashed and burned before he even got their to their door!

But TODAY, well, that's a whole different game.

And can you imagine how TV audiences from that generation would have reacted to Chris's magic? Well, it would be like that one scene from the Michael j Fox movie about time travel..what is the name of it? You know the one with Christopher Loyd..and Fox is on stage at a high school and he is playing the guitar and he goes into his Chuck Berry impersonation and they are all getting into it, then he get's carried away and starts going into his acid rocj=k mode with all the gyrations and such, and suddenly he realizes atht everyone has stopped cheering and their is dead silence and the whole crowd is just staring at him like he has lost his mind. They couldn't handle it!! It was too much for them.... it just blew their circuits!

I think that is what would have happened if shock magic was introduced to a generation that wasn't ready for it. but today's audiences love it.

Question is, after this wears off, what's next? where does magic go from here?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
funny_gecko
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I have a feeling it will be HIGHLY visual effects. I saw this eefect where a guy was in a graveyard and he Summoned a spirit and it came out of a tombstone and flew arond and wnt to the moon.
NFox
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I have a feeling/I hope that things will reach a happy medium, after the "shock value" of the shock effects wears off.

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JohnLamberti
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Doug,
Are you saying that today's brand of magic is a bad thing? Yes it's different, but I don't think it's bad. Criss Angel's show wouldn't have made it on the air in the 60's, but Mark Wilson's show wouldn't make it on the air today. The audience has changed. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Remember, no matter what the subject, from music to movies to magic to culture in general, the older generation ALWAYS thinks that the younger generation is screwing it up. Ever watch Ken Burns' documentary about Jazz music? The older generation was convinced it was the Devil's music. JAZZ!!

Wait 30 years and see what people are saying about David Blaine. People who were young when Blaine was at the peak of his popularity will be bemoaning the current magic acts and longing for the days when magic "was performed simply, by a smiple man."

Quote:
On 2005-07-20 19:01, daffydoug wrote:

Question is, after this wears off, what's next? where does magic go from here?


It goes where the audience goes. If people all of a sudden start clamoring for hermaphrodites dressed as octupuses making eggplants float above a pool of honey, that's what will be produced. It's all about the $$$$ in the long run.
Frank Tougas
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Everyone says that television follows the trends of the people, 'taint so. I believe it is the other way round. The executives at the networks especially the cable networks are all relatively young and want that 18 - 25 demographic. That is where the money is. T.V. sets the tone and the rest follow.

The frenzy fast paced stuff of which MTV is made is in vogue but then again someone does something as Monty Python used to say "Completely Different" and boom there is a new trend.

Who would have thought Harry Potter would have made such a splash. It went against conventional wisdom yet the series and the movies are tremendous money makers. I think a nice "polite" series of magic would still go over well. You never really know what is going to be the next popular wave. I'm still trying to figure out Yu Gi Oh cards!

Frank Tougas
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Matt Pulsar
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Good art is always going to be good. The Criss Angel asthetic is base. This base sensational shock value stuff is a common trend now. We know it will sell to the executives and the producers and we know that it will get shown. Someone will fund it because everyone will look at a car wreck once. This doesn't mean that that's what peopele want. It says more about our culture. I don't think we should worry too much about trying to do what we think people may want. Instead just do what you do, and keep what works. If you are polite, don't stop.
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MagicbyCarlo
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Hmmm...hermaphrodites dressed as octopuses making eggplants float above a pool of honey...
That stained me! Every few generations see changes in attitudes, dress, phrases and trends that they don't like. My father who was 40 years my senior didn't get KISS or Aerosmith and thought it was noise. He often asked why I bothered with magic; it wasn't going to earn me a living. I see things I don't like or understand the appeal of. The television show Fear Factor is one such thing. I find people whoring themselves by eating disgusting insects or rotten garbage quite unappealing. Viva LaBam is idiotic as was Jackass, but someone was watching it and paying for the sponsorships through purchases of advertiser’s merchandise.
Change IS sometimes bad, when it erodes the moral fabric of family and society and desensitizes us to the pain and suffering of others. We live in a world of 10-second sound bites and short attention spans; you will either adapt to your audiences needs or lose them as your audience. Interesting dilemma.
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JohnLamberti
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Quote:
On 2005-07-21 00:28, Frank Tougas wrote:
Everyone says that television follows the trends of the people, 'taint so. I believe it is the other way round. The executives at the networks especially the cable networks are all relatively young and want that 18 - 25 demographic. That is where the money is. T.V. sets the tone and the rest follow.


I have to respectfully disagree with you here, Frank. The TV business puts food on my table. Though I'm not a programming executive, I am very in tune with what's going on in the business here in Hollywood. I have good friends and acquaintinces who work in many different aspects of the entertainment industry, I read the trades daily, and I watch a lot of TV (any other business, that makes you a couch potato Smile )

Take my small branch of TV, for example. I work in TV news in Los Angeles. As you probably know, we're known out here for being quick to televise police chases. It's a near daily occurence. Nearly everyone you talk to will say that they HATE police chases being televised. It's next to impossible to get someone to admit that they'll drop everything they're doing to watch some yahoo drive in circles for an hour. But guess what happens when we put one on the air? The ratings go THROUGH THE ROOF. Especially if there's only one station covering the chase. Last week I was directing the coverage of a big-rig being chased, and the station I was directing for decided to stay on the air past our normal 11:30 off time. After 11:30, nearly a fifth of all televisions in Los Angeles were tuned to this station.

We know what the audience likes, and we give it to them. The day the ratings don't spike when we put a chase on the air is the day we stop televising them. It's that simple.

So to get back to what you were saying about TV setting the tone...that's true to a certain extent. But the audience has to bite. I can guarantee...I would bet my kidneys on it, in fact...that if this new Criss Angel show tanks in the ratings, you'll never see that guy with another series on cable or network television ever again. If, however, his show proves to be a hit, you'll probably see a lot more of him and a lot more of people like him on other cable networks. But it's THE AUDIENCE who decides that. The networks have to throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall just to make one strand stick. There's a lot of crap that airs for an episode or two and then gets trashed, never to see the light of day again. In today's world, if you don't have a hit within a couple of episodes, you're pretty much toast.

The reason Mark Wilson's show wouldn't fly today is because it would be BORING by today's standards. Sure, the magic was probably technically top notch (I'm too young to have actually watched the shows, but I've read about them and their content) but it's only magicians who care about the technical aspects of the magic. What matters is whether or not it would entertain people. With all the stimuli available to distract people today, that show would just get lost in the shuffle. That's why networks are on the lookout for people like Angel. He's basically the spaghetti being thrown against the wall. If he sticks, great. If not, in five years you'll probably be saying "Criss Who??"

Anyway, I'm done ranting. I hope Criss' show does great, as I'm a big fan of his.

Darn. Guess I wasn't done ranting.....
Quote:
On 2005-07-21 02:17, StuartPalm wrote:
I don't think we should worry too much about trying to do what we think people may want.


I've met a lot of aspiring screenwriters who think that way. The problem is that no one is going to see your movie (or your magic show) if you're only doing stuff that's interesting to you and three of your friends. You need to make people WANT to pay good money to come and see YOU! Otherwise, you're just amusing yourself. Don't get me wrong, that's fine. I do magic mainly to amuse myself, but I don't expect to be paid for it.

There's nothing wrong with art for art's sake. Art is a wonderful thing, but don't be surprised if no one cares about what you're doing. You have to make them care.
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The title of that movie is Back To The Future, the one with Michael J Fox, thought you would like to know it.
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Kent Wong
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I don't think people's reactions have changed all that much to the older days of Houdini. Thousands flocked to see him escape from a strait jacket while suspended upside down from a building. When you think about it, that's not much different than watching a car chase on the evening news.

I don't think people want bad things to happen to others - but, if it's going to happen, they have a morbid need to be witness to it. This morbid curiosity seems to have been recognized by television and the way they market their products - but the magic remains the same.

The interesting dichotomy is the difference between what people watch on TV and what they want to see, live, in their homes. With the exception of certain special events/occasions, people still seem to want and appreciate "family friendly" entertainment when it is performed in person.

O.K. ... my head hurts ... I'm going back to bed.

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Cameron Francis
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I think we tend to look at the past with rose colored glasses. There were plenty of senational stunts in the early part of the last century that would rival the stuff Blaine or Angel does.

I don't know what would prompt someone to call Criss Angel base. He actually seemed like a perfect gentleman to me. So he dresses like a guitarist in a Goth band, so what? He actually seemed quite aimable and sells his illusions really well.
the_houdini_jester
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What do you mean "Sells" them. Like there's a shop where you can buy his secrets. What's the link? You can PM me if you want.


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NFox
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What I am sure cfrancis meant by "sells" is that he is good at making the audience beleive that he is really performing "real magic," and that he is in control of the magic. To "sell a performance" means that you draw your audience so deep within it that they forget that it is a performance. I hope this cleared things up a bit.

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daffydoug
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Don't get me wrong. I became an Angel fan last night. Previously, I hadn't really seen him, only heard about him.

But my observations are thus; I read along time ago that to be a success in magic you had to be your self, and not an imitation of someone else. You have to be original, and you have to be unique. You have to find a niche and fill it. I think Criss is doing all that and in a very intriguing way. The man is with the times, and he is NOT impersonating Blaine! But I'll have to say he gave Blaine a run for his money! I hope success rains on him. I enjoyed the show and want to see more.
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Jeff007
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I have loved Criss's work for a while now. He consults with a great group of people as well. The latest little television appearance was very well done for a television audience to get yourself known, that's for sure.
JohnLamberti
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I've watched the shows a couple of times now. I think that overall they're not bad. The voodoo thing seemed a little bit "off" (those spectators were not totally in on it, but they weren't random, either. At least I don't think they were.)

I found myself fastforwarding through the extraneous crap, of which there was a lot. The actual magic was great...I just wish there had been more of it, and less sitting around the dinner table with his family.
daffydoug
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That was the "warm and comfy" part of the show.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
JoeJoe
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I don't feel that because Chris Angel is doing his brand of magic on TV, he is defining what "today's magic" is. I'm not changing my act because of his special, and I doubt David Copperfield is going to change his style. Chris Angel's magic is just that, Chris Angel's.

I don't think today's CBS exec's would have been all that impressed with Angel's pitch today, after all ... it was on A&E, a cable channel - not a major network. It was aired late at night, not on the Saturday morning cartoon lineup.

What you should notice here is that Chris Angel is being himself ... that is what appeals to people. If you try to be something you are not, people will see through you ... instead of trying to be more like Chris Angel or David Blaine, you should strive to be more like yourself.

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daffydoug
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Amazing thing, but he is indeed being himself, a very commendable thing, and an indispensable element of being a success, same as Blaine, and it's this very thing that he gets slammed for. Crazy, ain't it?
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Matt Pulsar
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I like what you said JoeJoe. I think I need to refraze a couple of things. When I said his asthetic was base, what I was talking about was not his work or his personality specifically, but the asthetic of the show. If you think of the most base asthetic on tv you end up with Jerry Springer. Granted, Criss's show is leaps beyond this, but the reality tv spin brings it to another place. The pacing as well. And that Mind Freak song, makes me want to ram my head through a wall.

Also, when I said, "I don't think we should worry too much about trying to do what we think people may want." I don't mean to say that you should only amuse yourself. If you focus on what is more natural for you, what fits you better, then you sell the act more. I think to focus on what suits you is better than thinking about what works for others. This is a responce to the idea that what Criss is doing is where magic is going. Magic is not going anywhere, it just transforms for the context and performer it is in and used by. I am not thinking on a art for art's sake plane. I love to entertain an audience, I just find it easier when the flow of the show is good, than when I am trying to apease them. It is allot like dealing with a date. Don't try too hard, just be yourself. People don't respond well to someone who is too eager
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