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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » TV specials and ethical dilemma (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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filmyak
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Question for everyone about "Magic Secrets Revealed" specials that have aired on Fox. I'm sure there have been some discussions on this here already, but I have a slightly different vantage point/question.

I make my living as a TV editor, and the executive producer I work with does other shows with a partner. The show I'm working on is almost over, and the exec has recommended me to this partner for more work.

Well, his sometimes partner is the guy who produced all the "Magic Revealed" specials, so we started talking about them. I said I (obviously) thought they were terrible things to put on the air, since they robbed people of their livelihood. He said if I hated that, I'd hate the latest special they are making: Psychic secrets revealed.

I know, this is getting long, but there's more to say. =) I explained that I had no trouble revealing psychic's secrets, since that was a line of work that claimed to be telling the truth, and which used these techniques to take people's money under the pretense of being reality. I compared it to a seminar I took last year that showed how techniques used in magic to entertain, can also be used to scam people around the world (like pyschic surgery and various other scams).

In other words, magic on stage or for friends is just for entertainment. The mere title is basically TELLING you it's all a lie. "Hi, we're doing magic TRICKS/ILLUSIONS for you today. Buy a ticket and come on in." Versus "Let me take your money while I pretend to predict the future/remove a tumor and tell you it's all real."

Clear cut difference, right? Those specials simply reveal harmless entertainment tricks because some masked magician wants to make some extra bucks.

Then he told me a shocker. Maybe this is common knowledge, but I was blown away. He told me that none of the magicians in the show had any trouble with giving away the secrets. That's right, there isn't one masked magician, it's a series of people each revealing a different trick. Apparently, SEVERAL professional magicians have no trouble giving their own secrets away.

What gives? Any comments on this by you folks?

And I've also been playing a mental game with myself: what if they were to ask me to edit the next show in the series, assuming there is one? Would I do it? Keep in mind two things: work in this industry is sporradic at best, and it would help keep food on my table. And second, if I were to turn it down, guaranteed they'd have another editor ready to take over in about 5-minutes. My involvement or lack thereof would have no bearing on the making of the show. But still, I'm not sure I could be party to something like that. Just curious for various opinions on this long, rambling post. =)
Kathryn Novak
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There is a huge difference between telling someone you can cure their cancer/remove their tumor and not doing it and finding a number they had picked. The audience for the magic show KNOWS it isn't real, versus a "patient" who hopes against hope that the person "performing" the "surgery" will be able to cure what can't be cured. And the "magicians" who told those secrets definitely weren't professionals if they "gave" away the secrets. If anything they sold them to Fox for a pretty hefty price. And these specials are not exactly harmless- People could spend years developing a new killer effect. They gain enough fame with that effect to perform their own magic special, only to have the effect revealed on another type of "special." There are several who make a living off of magic. For them, it's the only way they have to put bread on the table. So they have to spend more time and energy that could have been spent performing developing new effects, only to have THOSE revealed. It's a vicious cycle.
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filmyak
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In case I didn't make myself clear, I totally agree there's a huge difference between scamming people and doing a magic show, which is why I am so opposed to the revealing specials.

And yes, the magicians in the special DID get paid to do the show, of course! I had just assumed it was one magician with loose ethics, so I was very surprised to find out that in reality it was SEVERAL magicians who had no problem revealing the secrets under cover of a mask.
Garrett Nelson
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I would be willing to bet the effects they revealed were ones they don't currently use.
Kathryn Novak
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I'm not surprised at the number. Some people just can't keep a secret. On the other hand, how much do these shows really "expose?" Most of the ones I saw had only theories on how the effects were performed or showed effects that were mass-marketed to the public anyway.
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Enigma3613
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Of course, you also have to look at how the "Psychic Secrets Revealed" special will hurt legitimate mentalist magicians who admit to being fake, but use these secrets for their livelihood.

Of course the other side of the coin is that this forces magic (and mentalism) to evolve and become even more impossible. It just becomes harder to stay ahead if these specials come out more frequently.
- Robert Doidge
Kathryn Novak
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True, a "psychic secrets revealed" special could probably do quite a bit of harm to Mentalist magic, since I really haven't seen too many effects marketed for that particular branch.
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Paul Chosse
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There are those who might suggest that revealing a secret forces us to develop new tricks or methods - it could be a good thing!

Others could argue that, once a few tricks are revealed, all tricks are dismissed as the puzzles they become with exposition.

My experience is that it really doesn't matter. I was reading about exposure in 1936 Genii magazines when I was 9, and I'm still reading about exposure in Genii magazine, and other places, 40 years later. In all those years I have never done a trick and had a spectator say "hey, I remember that from the guy on TV that showed how everything is done!"

Maybe I'm just lucky, maybe the tricks look different in context and in real life, maybe spectators' are just dumb, maybe I have only worked for Alzhiemer patients. But I doubt all those things.

I think the fact is it's just not that important to anyone! Let's face it, we're talking tricks here, not open-heart surgery, or nuclear disaster. People just don't take us as seriously as we take ourselves!

Have some fun, don't point it (exposure) up by ranting about it, and it will go away, be forgotten, or just not impact you at your next show.

By the way, you don't see any of the BIG acts (Copperfield, S&R, Lance Burton, etc.) protesting in the media, or elswhere for that matter, don't you wonder why?

Just rambling, PSC
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christopher carter
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Quote:
By the way, you don't see any of the BIG acts (Copperfield, S&R, Lance Burton, etc.) protesting in the media, or elswhere for that matter, don't you wonder why?

Just rambling, PSC



In fact, Copperfield threatened Fox with legal action if they tried to expose his illusions. I would call that a protest, and apparently an effective one.

I perform mostly for college students, and hardly a day goes by where I don't hear one or more explain to his friends how something he saw on one of those Fox specials was done.

After the first expose show, an illusion team I was acquainted with had several shows cancelled because, according to the colleges who cancelled, now all the students would know how the tricks were done.

I think expose efforts are harmful. They always have been, and always will be. Happily, the harm seems to be temporary, but thanks to cable, repeats, and the large volume of expose shows, the damage caused seems to be increasing.

You are right that the exposes need to be put into some sort of perspective, but in no way can they be seen as good. I see two ways to remedy the problem: One is to retreat into ever smaller, more closed associations, and start treating secrets with due reverence. A second is physical violence toward the perpetrators of the exposes. I advocate the former, but reserve a soft spot in my heart for anyone who might try the latter.

--Christopher Carter
Kathryn Novak
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2002-1936= 66 years. Your math is a bit off. And the fact is that these specials expose methods of magic to millions of viewers. That they're making new shows and rerunning old ones proves it. If the audience sees enough of it they WILL start to remember. And that's where the exposure problem comes into play. Exposure will always be a problem in magic, it won't go away simply because we quit talking about it. As to the reason why the big acts don't complain about it: The illusions performed by the real pros aren't the small stuff they're revealing on the shows. But lets say they start to reveal the big illusions- the stuff that puts bread on the table for people like Copperfield and Blaine. Magic has to reinvent itself. It can be good occasionally, but would you want a killer effect you spent a year developing casually exposed on prime time tv to an audience of millions?
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ChrisZampese
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I always assumed that 'the' masked magician was more than one person. I also assume that (especially now the series is such a success) some producer/director/writer type person just does a bit of homework about some effects, and then gets an actor to 'be' the magician.
Given the budget that TV shows work with it would not be hard for them to find out any 'secrets' that they may want.

Dont know if any of this is correct, but food for thought anyway.
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are
Paul Chosse
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1) My math is fine. I didn't say I was reading CURRENT issues!

2) Happy to see you disagree!

Best, PSC
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
Magicrma
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Magic has been used to promote and sell everything from cigarettes to election candidates. Magic tricks were given away printed in newspapers, on cigarette cards, on and in cereal boxes, by promoters of all kinds of stuff. Anyone can go to a magic shop and buy what ever they have the money to pay for. To keep magic secrets, the magic society would have to limit the access to those secrets. There are alot of people how thing if they paid for it it's their's and they can do anything they want with it short of murder. So if MacDonalds wants to give away magic tricks in their kids meals they simply buy a trick, make it with a MacDonald's theme and put it in the bag. They think it's okay, they paid for it. It is very hard to control Intellectual property with current copyright laws. If you don't believe me ask the computer software industry.
If the producers of the "---- Secrets Revealed" specials researched or pay for the information they are going to use it.
I think that if you find yourself in a position where you feel that the show is wrong, let them know.
(soap box time)
If enough of the magic society let them know, they will change the show or not do any more. As a group the magic society is quite large and as a group we can effect change.
(off the box)
Good luck, filmyak, you are in a unique position.

MagicRMA
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filmyak
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"If enough of the magic society let them know, they will change the show or not do any more. As a group the magic society is quite large and as a group we can effect change.
(off the box)
Good luck, filmyak, you are in a unique position. "

Thanks for the well wishes, and the lively discussion from everyone. I just have to state the sad news that there is no way the magic society in this country would get Fox to stop making these. It's ALL ratings, and Fox... well, let's just say ratings are far more important than ethics. That's true for all networks, but more true for some networks than others. 'Nuff said. Smile
Peter Marucci
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Why do we make such a big deal about magic "secrets"?
This isn't rocket science, after all.
If a person is so bereft of original thought, that a TV show is going to put him out of business, then maybe he shouldn't be in the business to start with!
The secret is such a tiny part of the magic!
I have said it before but will say it again:
Anyone who thinks the magic is in the secret, might as well take a piano apart to look for the music!
Smile
Kathryn Novak
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Quote:
On 2002-11-26 06:29, Peter Marucci wrote:
Why do we make such a big deal about magic "secrets"?
If a person is so bereft of original thought, that a TV show is going to put him out of business, then maybe he shouldn't be in the business to start with!

Smile


You're right, Peter, one show can't really do all that much harm. But if the network decides to make it a nightly television series, I'd say THEN we would have a problem. There are only so many illusions in the world, ya know. The magic does reside in the performer, but even the performer needs a little help from his props to make the magic happen!
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christopher carter
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Quote:

The secret is such a tiny part of the magic!
I have said it before but will say it again:
Anyone who thinks the magic is in the secret, might as well take a piano apart to look for the music!



Peter,

I'm sorry to have to disagree, but you're dead wrong! The secret is the fundamental bedrock on which our magic is built. Without the secret, there is no magic. Period!

If it's so unimportant, why don't you just give away your secrets before your show, then wait to see how much the audience enjoys your "presentation?" I'm confident you will agree that's not a tenable option.

We are curators of the secrets that were handed to us by our forbears. These secrets are not ours to give away!

--Christopher Carter
Burt Yaroch
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Said the man advocating physical violence against these exposers. At least, in that light, your opinions that you present as absolute herein seem to loose their luster.

I happen to agree wholeheartedly with Peter (making me dead wrong too I suppose). While my analogy lacks the poetry of Peters piano, let me offer to you another form of entertainment exposed: film.

By George Lucas' own admission the Yoda character is not a real person. Formerly a puppet and now just a bunch of ones and zeros. That didn't stop any of the millions who saw him on screen be pulled into his backwards spoken wisdom or lightsaber acrobatics, despite our foreknowledge of his lack of physical substance.

The secret wasn't the magic. It was, and will remain, the performance.
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Lance Pierce
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The true secrets of magic can never be revealed. Any audience member will allow that while they may not know how <insert name of favorite stage magician here> did that last effect, they're pretty sure it had something to do with that box. The box is not the real secret. The real secret lies in the way the performer, whether close-up, stage, platform, or television, engages the audience.

Now, it can be said that the boxes or the cards or the whatever are part of the tools we use to create this relationship with the audience, and by their losing their effectiveness, the entire performance suffers. Well, yes, I can allow this, but I also know that exposure has been going on for as long as magic has existed, and here we are, still stuffing girls in boxes, still having cards selected.

Here's what I've noted: People more and more are desiring of magicians, because we're about the only place left that they can find any sense of wonder these days -- us, and that powerful, wonder-inspiring movie that comes along once a decade or so. The more exposure we encounter, the more they turn to us, because the exposure threatens to take that wonder away, and they really, really want us to provide it.

I mean, they really do.



L-
christopher carter
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Lance and Burt,

If secrets are so unimportant, why then may I not expose yours? (And, Burt, note that I wouldn't, because just like my 'physical violence' comment, this one is not meant to be taken literally.)

--Christopher Carter

Quote:
On 2002-11-26 13:41, Burt Yaroch wrote:
Said the man advocating physical violence against these exposers. At least, in that light, your opinions that you present as absolute herein seem to loose their luster.



BTW, I explicity said I did not advocate physical violence against exposers, in spite of the fact that a part of me, deep down, would like to see it done. It's similar to what comedians are known to do to someone who steals their material. They haul the guy into a back alley and beat him up. I wouldn't do it, don't in reality approve of it, but on an emotional level, I think it just.

--Christopher Carter
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