Sunday, December 10, 2006

what am i missing here?

There's a "reality show" about a magician named Criss Angel, and another one with David Blaine. I've heard people talking about them. They seemed impressed, and I utterly fail to see why.

I thought the appeal of magic tricks is that you can't figure out how the magician could have done it. But this is on TV, people. TV is fake, remember? It's not the same thing as real life.

Are we supposed to be impressed with a trick that anyone could film? See, Criss Angel didn't just do a trick for you. You just watched some video footage where he may have done a trick, or he may have *pretended* to do a trick, and a bunch of people *pretended* to be really impressed. Here is an example.

It reminds me of a show out of Mexico called Infarto. You're supposed to think it's a hidden camera show (altho they don't actually say that), but it's clearly all acted. There's no lens distortion or color loss, and each scene has multiple camera angles; often they use a shot that would only be possible with a large camera in close proximity to the action.

It also reminds me of Ripley's Believe it or Not in the newspaper. Along with stories of people with two heads (or whatever), you'd see a caption like "An Onion That Looks Like A Dog!", accompanied by a terrible pencil sketch vaguely resembling an onion resembling a dog.

What is that about? A pencil sketch doesn't mean anything -- you may as well say "Sometimes some things look like other things" or maybe "One time a lady saw a potato and said it looked like her grandmother." We don't know what either item looked like, do we, so how are we supposed to know whether we "Believe it or Not"? Since I can't see the d*** potato, I'm going to have to say "Not."

Anyway, the popularity of the magic shows is a mystery to me. Maybe the people who are so impressed are the same ones who think pro wrestling is real.


At Sun Dec 10, 08:04:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

Yes, the credibility of magic certainly goes down when you watch it taped on TV. I also understand that David Blaine's footage is edited considerably before it airs. That doesn't necessarily mean that ALL magic you see on TV is done by editing a tape or even having "plants" in the audience. We have guy on our staff who does magic on the side and he told me that most of DB's tricks are things you simply buy from catalogs. There are some magic tricks that I think are credible on TV -- especially, close-up magic -- I'm sure some of these tricks are not edited since the magician is doing it in front of a live audience, etc. The thing that really bothers me about David Blaine is this weird persona he’s come up with--virtually no personality and the hint that he really has some kind of a spooky gift rather than just presenting himself as a magician. I also don’t understand the fascination with the big stunts--making the Statue of Liberty disappear, for instance. It’s more fascinating for me to watch a coin appear our of thin air. The best tricks are the ones you do for your grandchildren: you don’t have to be an expert and they still get a kick out of it.

At Sun Dec 10, 10:00:00 AM PST, Blogger Chris Cope said...

Also, could Criss Angel take longer to set up a piece?
"Dude this trick that I'm going to do is totally freaky. Very freaky. Here, I'll ask this person how freaky they think it is. Dude, is this thing I'm going to do freaky?"
"Awesome. How freaky?"
"Really freaky. I may freak because it is just that freaky. I may freak, dude."
"Dude, you will freak."
"I probably will."
"OK, time for a commercial."
Twenty minutes later, he puts a knife through his hand and somewhere in the world Harry Anderson is shooting a television.

At Sun Dec 10, 03:47:00 PM PST, Blogger Alan said...

I have a ridiculously simple "pick a card trick" which still amazes the children after 18 years of performing it.


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