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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Stop with the "Muggle" thing!!! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Chris Miller
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This has been entertaining, and irresistable to join in the fray! For one, I'm curious about how many people who dislike the term "Muggle" as a substitute for the term laymen, spectators, audience, etc are not fans of or have not read the HP series. Its all fun, and hopefully those who seem upset by the term are just having a little fun of their own being devil's advocate. As others have pointed out, the term Muggle is a term of endearment among the good wizards. Also, calling non-magicians muggles within our magic community does not imply that we do real magic. When you boil it down, we are all muggles, too, everytime we sit back and watch another magician perform. I do not feel insulted, and others shouldn't either. I can't imagine feeling insulted by a term which Rowling has populated into modern culture as having a meaning of non-magical folk. It is a perfect term for use among ourselves, and even in some performing contexts. Personally, I am much more afraid of being called a Squib than a Muggle! At least a muggle isn't supposed to be able to do magic. Smile

Chris
BlackShadow
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It's all very well calling them muggles on a board like this, when pretty well everyone posting has a fair amount of magical knowledge, but who would use it in a show?

I'm sure you'd all be happy to say "Ladies and Gentleman, you've been a wonderful audience" Or "I'd like to request assistance from a member of the audience" but would you say "Can a muggle please volunteer to assist me?" or "You've been wonderul muggles tonight." I think not. It is not a term of endearment, it is a term of derision, and it sucks.

Don't call people things behind their backs you wouldn't say to their faces.
Phaedrus
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As someone who has made his living with words for the last twenty years, the one thing I know for certain is that words have power. We, as magicians, should know that better than anyone.

Case in point: there's a reason that the use of the "N" word is unacceptable when referring to blacks. On one level, it's just a word: six letters strung together. However, that word represents hundreds of years of hatred and oppression. Any use of the word is going to carry the baggage of that history, and it's difficult to defend any use of it as "just a word."

I have lived in Mexico City for the last seventeen years. A word that is often used here to describe people from the United States is "gringo." I myself have had the word applied to me, sometimes with genuine affection, sometimes with derision and disdain. The feeling the word has evoked in me often depends on how the person using the word expresses it: it can be deeply offensive or a term of endearment, depending on the intention of the person using it.

I think the same is true of the words we use to describe our audience. It's difficult to express nuances of meaning and intention when writing, but how we use the word reveals a great deal about our relationship to the people we perform for. I have seen people use the word "muggle" in a context that made it seem relatively innocuous, and I have seen people use it in such a way that makes me feel that they hold their audience in contempt. Context, of course, is everything.

Words acquire their power from being used. It's up to us to decide how we want to refer to the people who experience our magic, and the emotional connotations of that reference. If we use the word muggle to express warmth and appreciation for our audiences, that is the meaning it will take on. On the other hand, if we use the word to show our superiority to and contempt for spectators, then that it how it will be perceived. The question is: how do we really feel about our audience? Once we have the answer to that question, this issue will tend to resolve itself on its own.
Jonathan Townsend
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I do hear and sympathize with the sentiment blackshadow expressed. Were the term alien or pejorative I would agree. Were one to use the term as it is used in the Rowling books in public, in a show... I sincerely doubt anyone would take offense.

As far as I can remember, in the Rowling stories, so far the only term of derision used has been "mudblood" which serves to describe a person born of none or only one recognized magic using parent. This is a term used by bigoted wizards by the way. Do correct me if I'm ignoring a pejorative sense or usage of the term or any other pejorative terms.

When we discuss methods and secrets here among ourselves it seems fair to sometimes express some concern over keeping this knowledge inside our community. Likewise when we seek feedback about an routine usually seek out those with innocent eyes and a willingness to express their perceptions.
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BlackShadow
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Good points, Phaedrus and Jonathan, context is everything.

But how many people will admit to using the word in front of their audiences to refer to them? Not many I'll wager.

The reason is that the word has already acquired an air of the "superiority of magic" because the whole Harry Potter thing is written from the magical point of view. Only the wizards can walk through the wall, only the wizards can go to Hogwarts etc. Wizards can mix with muggles if they choose but not the other way around. The superiority of the wizards is clear, so the word already has its baggage, the same as the N word has its baggage.

Added to that, it sounds like "muddle" which is another derogatory adjective.
Jonathan Townsend
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Magic is a strange thing and everyone already knows it depends upon secrets. Whether that secret is a book of spells or a book of mechanical and sneaky things we do is actually irrelevant. All that counts is that the audience experience the event as mysterious. As it is known to depend upon secrets, there need not be any superiority involved. There are several other professions that require keeping secrets and confidences. For example, most priests don't go around giggling about what they hear in confession. Most intelligence agents don't even hint at what they have to think about at work when not at work. Those secrets are just part of the job.

In magic, the secrets are what allow us to offer amazement to our audiences. Such knowledge brings its own responsibilities. If a person learns a secret, they simply lose the ability to experience that amazement again. A loss, not a gain. It's not as if they could bring amazement to others with mere knowledge. That service we offer takes a great deal of investment in time and materials. No, the knowledge of magic is just part of our job. It bestows no special privilege. In fact the knowledge of how to deceive pretty much forces us to be scrupulously honest in our dealings.

IMHO the M word is not related to the N word. By way of direct contrast consider that the the N word when used within group is a word of commonality and fellowship, and when used between groups it is an insult describing the stereotypical worst of the group. Now let's look at the M word(s); The M word describes all the people who are not members of one distinct profession. And all the M's are free to refer to us by the other M word, "magician". And... when we look for feedback to improve our art, we seek out the opinions of the non-magicians, after all, all our magic is FOR them. Smile

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tommy
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Maybe magicians should go the whole hog and invent a complete secret language, so they can talk to each other and the muggles will not learn any secrets. Or we could learn Latin and use it like supercilious lawyers and doctors do.
“The Harry Potter novels are appealing on many levels, and one level most certainly is this fascinating use of words-most of them Latin-for working magic.” I read someplace.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Lee Darrow
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Quote:
On 2005-10-15 08:16, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Lee, as people they live with the illusion of magic and without any awareness of the methods by which we create that perception of magic. How do we remind ourselves of that distinction between the world they live in and the world we have built in which to offer them magic?


Do we need to remind ourselves? Honestly?

I submit that, if we do, then we are not according the attention to our Art, our peers and our audiences that we should.

Honest questions, not an attack, by any means.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
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Lee Darrow
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Quote:
On 2005-10-15 18:10, Bill Palmer wrote:
I vote for "Marks."

Seriously, what difference does it make, really? Call them non-magicians. Call them laymen. Call them muggles. Call them the uninitiated. Call them Gilpins.

How about clients or customers.

As long as the communication is backstage, what difference does it make?


"The attitude that we carry with us in our private moments is often conveyed to those around us by our unspoken actions in our public ones." Milton H. Erickson, MD

If we look down on our audiences and clients, privately, then, at some point, that attitude is going to shwo, even if only in a flash. And that flash can seriously hurt a performer's reputation and rapport, especially if it happens during a performance.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
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Bill Palmer
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This is true if you buy into Erickson's statement. Erickson was not an actor. If he was, he was an actor playing the part of a psychologist. If we understand our training, then we won't do it.

Something that we should all remember is that each of our clients has something that he or she can do better than we can, and we may be in a position at some point to call upon them to provide it.

But...I do not consider the term "Muggle" to be derogatory in any way. It means "normal."

There is a separation between "us" and "them." How we refer to "them" is really our own business.
"The Swatter"

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Skip Way
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Pussy footing around worrying about everyone else's political correctness... another clear sign of the rutting superiority complex.
Quote:
I am superior to you at so many levels that you should see the world my way! I don't like it so we should BAN it!
McCarthy would have loved you PC types!

This is precisely the kind of thinking that wants to strike God from our national identity. It's the kind of thinking that has turned our text books into a mockery of reality. The kind of thinking that seeks to turn winning into a moment of shame, incompetence into something to be rewarded and success into something to punish.

It's really quite simple. If you neither like nor approve of the word "Muggle"... or any other word or term in any global language...then don't use it. Set the example! Take the high road! Maybe enough of us inconsiderate, feeble-minded, politically incorrect louts will eventually recognize your all-knowing wisdom for what it is and join the cult. (Don't hold your breath, though!)

When I meet face-to-face that first child or adult who appears to take even the slightest offense from the term "Muggle", I will review my ways. Until then, we independent & rational beings will continue to use our terms in our own way... kittens beware!

Skip
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Magicbarry
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I don't hate the term "muggle" for any so-called "PC" reason. I just think it's a stupid and childish term for a magician to use. It sounds ridiculous, in my opinion.

Note that I am not saying a magician who uses the term is stupid and childish. I just think the term is.
Beth
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I find it annoying... somewhere along the same lines as the annoyance I feel with people who babytalk their poodle woodle because he lubs his mommy wommy. I think there is a certain group of people that will think that you're an idiot if you speak that way. I know I have seen several posts at the Genii forum where people are taking exception with the term... so it's not just here at the Café that it is being seen as annoying.... shrug.

I don't think that using terms taken from the latest book aimed primarily at children will encourage people to see magic as a serious art. I also understand that just because this term would be totally out of place in a discussion on magic for me, it may not be out of place for everyone. All words have a certain tone and flavor, and I can't see this as conveying what I would feel about laypeople. However, Uncle Howie, who does children's magic, might find it perfectly expresses his feelings. All this said I think it's a free world and everyone should speak however they please. I know I certainly will. Smile
Peace Beth
"All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive,enlightening, familar, and surprising."
Chris Miller
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Skip - right on!

How some can possibly compare the term "muggle" to the N-word is beyond reason. There absolutely, positively is no such derision with the term muggle.

I said it before, and I'll say it again, every time you watch another magician perform, you have the chance to be a muggle. You don't know how the trick is done. You have a chance to be amazed. Early in the thread some expressed the idea that few terms would be acceptable for the people who are non-magicians, including layman (offensive and probably sexist), layperson (better, but still we can't use it on the boards because who would address their audience as "laypeople" to their faces), even "spectators" was frowned-on earlier. ... We avoid calling them laypeople to their faces because the context is wrong, not because it is offensive.

I'm a patent agent, and when I discuss a case with colleagues, I refer to people as "clients" or "inventors". When they come in the door, I don't say, "Hello, Clients!" It's just common sense, not something which makes me a hypocrite for saying one thing in one situation and another thing in different situation. Where did the common sense go? I'm sure most of us are not starting our shows with "Good evening, Muggles!", unless it is a Harry Potter-themed show, in which case, common sense would tell us that the word would not be silly.

It would be funny and set the stage that you are the wizard. You might even discover some other wizards in the muggle crowd after having some people help you ... I have not read anything convincing as to why the term Muggle should be viewed as offensive. Just because there exist offensive words in the world does not mean that muggle is offensive. Just because somethings when said behind people's backs are offensive does not mean that every word said behind a back and not to a face is offensive. ... The offended are telling us that by calling people muggles, we are making up some difference between ourselves and these people. We might as well say that we should stop referring to ourselves as magicians because some will think we really do magic and we're really just human beings like the non-magicians, and really, the only reason they are not magicians is because they never got the chances we had. ... Perhaps we should not perform any more, because people who have read Harry Potter might start thinking of themselves as muggles, and even though no words would have been spoken, we would have been the cause of them coming up with an offensive word association perpetuated by the Harry Potter books. ...

Some say, fine, use the word muggle, but imply that those who use it sound childish or silly because the Harry Potter books were written primarily with children in mind. I would concede that HP started off primarily for children, but they are universal in their appeal and much more sophisticated than those who have not read them will admit. Even if one could convince me that HP was only for children, to me, comments that look down on the HP series and the HP terms which have encroached into the pop culture are simply snobish and sad in a way because those who can't enjoy HP have lost or never had a part of their childhood that should never be left behind: imagination. Harry Potter is pure, unadulterated fun. We're teenagers and adults on this board; have we forgotten how to have fun and have an imagination? ...

Other than those who are using the term muggle too loosely and thereby killing cats for no reason, I have yet to see an example of how "Muggle" has been used in a context that has been offensive. Please, stop trying to create a universally obnoxious meaning where there is none. Please stop trying to invent one offensive example which you believe trumps all the legitimate, non-offensive uses I see on this board and in real life. Look at the context. Better yet, try reading the whole HP series again, or for the first time. Let the politically correct guard down. Drop the hum-bug. Re-discover the word muggle from the source. Muggle does not discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, political party, nationality, or age. Muggles are non-magical folk. What a perfect alternative to layman on the message boards where the context makes commen sense. What a perfect word at a Harry Potter themed show.

If you like another word, then use it. Pick up a thesaurus. It doesn't make sense to use a word unless you understand its meaning anyway. Until muggle makes it into the dictionary, we have to rely on contextual meaning, and even after a denotational meaning is available, context is still important. To understand context, you need to use common sense. Common sense says the term muggle is just fine the way it is being used.

(Deep breath)

Chris
Joe Russell
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HEY SKIP, it was a joke I'm sorry if I offended you, the imps on my shoulder made me do it. Maybe some day my imps and your bunny rabit will become best of friends. however, I still support the movement, down with the muggles. Ooops god just killed a kitten
Who is Tattoo Joe?
saxmangeoff
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Quote:
On 2005-10-18 10:51, Magical_Mystifier wrote:
Look at the context. Better yet, try reading the whole HP series again, or for the first time. Let the politically correct guard down. Drop the hum-bug. Re-discover the word muggle from the source. Muggle does not discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, political party, nationality, or age. Muggles are non-magical folk. What a perfect alternative to layman on the message boards where the context makes commen sense. What a perfect word at a Harry Potter themed show. If you like another word, then use it. Pick up a thesaurus. It doesn't make sense to use a word unless you understand its meaning anyway. Until muggle makes it into the dictionary, we have to rely on contextual meaning, and even after a denotational meaning is available, context is still important. To understand context, you need to use common sense. Common sense says the term muggle is just fine the way it is being used.

(Deep breath)

Chris


:applause: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile

What he said!

Geoff
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Magicbarry
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Maybe the problem is not what the term "muggle" says about the spectator ... but what it says about the magician, or magicians in general.

Let me preface this by saying I mean no disrespect to anyone. I am merely presenting the spectator's -- the non-magician specator's -- point of view.

If we're being honest, we'll acknowledge that non-magicians often think of magic as a hobby for geeks. Not always, but often. It's the performing-arts equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons, or going to Star Trek conventions. There is nothing wrong with either of those things, but I think we can all agree that a large number of people assign such activities to the domain of geekery. Such is often the view people have of magic.

(Interjection: No, it's not the view they have when they're actually watching a magician perform. Usually they think the person who is actually entertaining them is an exception to the geek rule.)

So, here we have a popular series of children's books. And we have a group of people already behind the geekery 8-ball employing terms from that series of books. You're almost saying, "I'm a Harry Potter fanatic, I'm trying to be a wizard like Harry, and lord, where can I get me a pair of round glasses." To a non-magician, it screams "geek" in the way that studying Klingon language tapes does.

It's perfectly fine if you're using it in the context of children's magic. But if you refer to an adult (or teenage) non-magician as a muggle, and you may well be hitting 9.8 on their geekometer.

To put it another way ... I might watch Star Trek on TV. I've probably seen every episode of the original and The Next Generation. But I won't advise someone to "Live Long and Prosper".
Frank Tougas
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I feel I have fallen through the looking glass along with Alice. This thread was OBVIOUSLY a light hearted sort of gag approach to some use of a word from a HARRY POTTER BOOK. A thread better suited to "It's not magic...but" than "Food for Thought". Maybe we should have labeled this JUNK FOOD for thought. Or as I have seen so often by many of the staunch supporters 'fer and 'agin - leave off the thought part as no real thought seems to be happening.

I am anxiously awaiting the next magic book of substance that reads..."Place the sponge ball into the muggles hand...etc., etc, etc." Maybe L&L will require it, or we will see it on the next Michael Ammar tape. My goodness, some of the heated debate has become downright foolish. Ninety plus replies and over one thousand views!!! I hope most of the posters don't do comedy magic. You actually NEED a sense of humor to do comedy.

There I've said my piece. It was cathartic. I won't post again as the entire thread has already taken more bandwidth than it deserves. I have clicked the Ruby Slippers 3 times and I am headed back home. As each regains their sanity I hope you join me. I'll have Prozac waiting. Smile

There's no place like home....there's no place like home.....There's no...

Frank (Finally out of the Rabbit Hole) Tougas
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Skip Way
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Hey, Joe! Offended? Me?! Heck no! I'm just your typical dyed-in-the-wool, flag-waving, retired cop, God & Country, Stop-Telling-Me-What-To-Do, Muggle-loving Conservative who feels that everyone has an absolute right to their personal opinion and the right to state it. So saying, I reserve the right to take anyone who tries to force me to conform to their world view or to the B.S. of political correctness and soundly stomp them into the dirt. That's fair, isn't it?

No harm done! A spirited debate carried to polarized extremes. I have no doubt that were you to hide your Clinton Scrapbook and I were to conceal my Reagan Shrine...we'd be great friends!

And I actually like the imps...your avatar is classic!

Skip :o)
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Jonathan Townsend
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Would Prozac be the red pill or the blue pill?

Would we wake up in an L&L video trying to do a routine while that guy John in the glasses goes all wide eyed and loud?

Would we wake up in in a gray world where stories inspire nothing more than denigration and imagination is limited to finding new ways to berate one's peers?

As far as reality goes, THEY seem to like the stories and THEY enjoy magic. In their stories there is magic on the other side of the mirror. Let's put some apple cider in the cauldron and enjoy a toast to magic. Smile
...to all the coins I've dropped here
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