THOUGHTS ON THE RECENT AND CONTINUING EXPOSURES OF MAGIC ON THE FOX NETWORK.
by Bill Palmer, M.I.M.C.
Since November of 1997, the Fox network has broadcast three shows exposing magic. They have another show already taped and plans to produce even more. Never before in the history of magic have we suffered an onslaught of exposure of this magnitude.
What are the actual results of these exposures so far? For some magicians, little damage has been done. Those of us with sufficient skills and repertoire have been able to either perform the same pieces well enough that the lay audience cannot see the method involved or we have been able to substitute other methods or other material for the things that have been ruined for us.
However, with each show, more and more of our tools are taken away from us. Each program exposes more of the basics of our art. The more of our tools that are taken from us, the less effectively we will be able to function. It's almost as if they would take the scalpel away from the surgeon, and then say,"You're so smart--now save that person's life." Or that they would take away the blueprints and other design tools of the architect and say, "Now, smart guy, build those buildings!" It's just not right.
Magicians are the most honest of the professionals. We tell you that we are going to fool you, then we fool you and you leave with your wallet and your watch. No other profession is as scrupulous in its honesty. We make no claims to supernatural powers--we simply entertain people with magic.
Magic is the mother of all the arts. The earliest buildings had magical purposes. The earliest music was magical in nature. The earliest dances were to give man power over nature or his enemies. The earliest paintings had the same purpose. Now a practicioner of a new art form is trying to do harm to Mother. We can't let that happen.
Think about this. If there were no magicians, the Fox network would not be on the air today. The one show that is responsible for the success of the Fox network is "The X-Files." This show owes much of its success to special effects work. Magicians invented special effects. That's our field. Only we produce them live, instead of by means of trick camera work. Ironically, the first special effects photographer was an amateur magician--Georges Melies, who had a studio above Robert-Houdin's Salon du Magie in Paris. Were it not for his vision, Fox would not exist.
Why are they doing this to us? Some believe that it is out of some misguided altruism--perhaps to protect the innocent public from the predatory magician who fools them with a wire or a mirror or a trapdoor. Others believe that Fox thinks of us as a bunch of con artists. That's just part of the script. The truth of the matter is that their ratings went through the roof when the first special aired, and that enabled them to increase the charges for their advertising. It's simply a money game. If they were truly interested in protecting the public, they would expose the real con men--pigeon droppers, three card monte men, psychic surgeons and the like--and we magicians would gladly help them.
So how do we fight it? That's really pretty simple.
First, we must go on the offensive. Fox is vulnerable, but they don't realize how vulnerable they really are. Their news broadcasts are on an hour earlier than the broadcasts on the main networks. Why? Because nobody would watch their news during a regular time slot.They are the low rung on the news ladder. They can't compete honestly.
Ironically, even with their higher ratings on these exposure shows, they are having trouble finding sponsors for them. If you made a list of the sponsors of the two broadcasts, you may have noticed that none of the sponsors of the first broadcast sponsored the second one. They had received too many letters of protest from magicians, their friends and their fans. As I understand it, they were forced to lower their rates at the last moment to be able to sell their advertising. Keep those cards and letters rolling in!
Now it's time for the counterattack. Watch Fox news and make a list of their sponsors. Do the same with the X-Files and Millenium. Write those sponsors and tell them that you will no longer patronize their businesses or use their services if they continue to advertise on Fox.
Hit them in the pocketbook!!
Finally, do everything you can to keep a positive image for magicians, so we look like the injured party, but not like a bunch of whiners.
We cannot ignore this. It will not go away. We must act now.
And we must adopt a "zero tolerance" policy against ALL exposers, on television, in mass market books, on the radio and on the internet.
Pass this on to your friends. See to it that all friends of magic--audience members and magicians alike, read and understand this.
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©1997, 1998 Bill Palmer. All rights reserved. For permission to republish contact Bill Palmer at the above e-mail address.