The 21st Century is the best time for magic. The increase in technology (inspired by magic by the way) has given platforms and made magic more accessible for the public. Actors have the TV, musicians have the radio – magicians have the internet and social apps! 10 years ago, magic was only accessible to the public at large through scheduled TV programs (David Blaine on ABC, Criss Angel on AMC for example). 50 + years ago magic was only accessible to the general public at the theatre. When art or industry gets exposure in popular culture – the demand rises.
There is a flip side to the goodness of Youtube – anyone can post a video. Just because you have bought something from a magic shop doesn’t make you a magician. Until you have put in the hours, months, years of practice, rehearsal – scripting, directing, and understanding the psychology of why magic works – you are not a magician. Many of the bad so-called magicians posting on the internet are not even hobbyists – they have a passive interest and or are looking to correct their own insecurity – they expose the workings of another magician’s hard work. The Masked Magician did not elevate magic. You don’t move magic forward by exposing another person’s labor. If you want to further magic – do good magic.
Jealousy and ego is a BIG threat to magic and the magician (as it is in all professions). Its not uncommon for some magicians to get very defensive about their position in the magic industry ecosystem that they tear another performer down in some form or fashion. If someone is getting the praises and $$$ you so desire – get better. Magic wins when we help each other out.
There is a BIG push in the industry over copyright protection. There are many magicians who have created novel ways of doing magic but refuse to release because someone will eventually take credit away from the inventor. It is VERY hard to prove originality in court with magic. Comedians, musicians and artists have an advantage over the magic industry in this regard. We magicians don’t have an easy way to safeguard our own independent creations from intellectual theft. A comedian cannot copy someone else’s joke and get away with it at the comedy club. There is no sin in using another magician’s lines AS LONG AS YOU BOUGHT THE RIGHTS to it via book or DVD but at some point, you will need to find your own voice in the magic you do. Magic moves forward when there is originality.
The oldest recording of a magical performance is 5,000 years old in the Westcar Papyrus Scroll of Ancient Egypt. Some magic historians have argued that the first wielders of fire were the equivalent of modern magicians. The 3 Kings in the Book of Matthew were magicians. Magic is OLD but is growing stronger. Before the 1600s, magical education was inherited through father-son like arrangements. Art survives ONLY by passing it down to the next generation. Magicians going forward need to be careful about how much secrecy they will keep. I consider myself BOTh a magician and a mentalist but I settle on just the title Magician for marketing/ commercial purposes – I had to teach myself because no one at the magic club was willing to mentor. It was always “you’ll find that in X (book)”. I agree that self-discovery is important but you can easily learn things the wrong way through self-education. This is why I advocate a magic education mixing both books and videos and why I often argue – video is better when it is done the right way. Just about every magician who has ever lived has at one point in the formidable years exposed something. MOST of the Youtubers out there who expose magic are not going to be performing much, its passive interest. A few of them do a great service passing the knowledge on – I personally think Daniel Madison is doing card magic a wonderful service because he exposes for the purpose of education and carrying card magic on to the next generation. But the 10-year-old on Youtube who exposes something for the sake of exposure to make him feel intellectually superior MAY or MAY NOT stick around – THAT being stated – the magic community can come together and push him out OR we can come together and instead of making him a villain (he’s only a 10-year-old kid, not a terrorist) we show him the error of his way and take him under our wings and maybe make him into the next Shin Lim. Magic wins in the end.