Friday, April 30, 2010

Project 365 (122/365): Criss Angel

.:122/365: Criss Angel:.

I would always give my props to a magician, especially a successful one.

Criss Angel is a different story because he may be successful, but he sure as hell ain’t a magician.

The favourite target of the notorious “Trickbusters” on YouTube, Angel’s performances have been rife with criticisms for years and years, none ever directly confirmed, but irreparably damaging the perception of television magic as a legitimate avenue for performers.

As this is the last day of comedy magic month, let me just say that as far as I’m concerned, Criss Angel has turned magic into a joke with the way he has treated it on his television specials. When you can achieve the seemingly impossible only because of camera tricks, editing, and paid actors, you’re no longer doing any magic at all: you’re just turning it into a special effects extravaganza.

In short, if this is your idea of magic, what’s the point?

Why would we allow Criss Angel to tear down the institution of magic on television that has been established for decades upon decades of hard work and legitimate skill? Why would we praise him for achieving feats in magic no magician could possibly achieve in front of a live audience? It’s deplorable, to say the least.

I have a lot of respect for magic. This is precisely why among all the magicians out there, the only one I would have nothing good to say about would have to be Criss Angel, because for all intents and purposes, this guy is not a magician. If a live show exposes the man as disappointing (and that’s being charitable), then it certainly means that he simply does not deserve to be considered a magician, when he needs those “little advantages” any magician worth their salt should never even touch with a ten-foot pole. His treatment of Perez Hilton is also deplorable and unprofessional. Leave the Hilton-bashing to the Will.I.Am’s of the world.

Did Criss Angel take magic in a new direction? I empathically say “no”. The only thing he had over David Blaine was that he had more TV shows because he produced a weekly one, and not a TV special ala Blaine.

Did Criss Angel revolutionize magic? Definitely not. Nobody is doing routines and saying this is “as popularized by Criss Angel”. Blaine was levitating before Angel did. Copperfield was doing it even before that, and doing it better and onstage. Anything “special” Angel came up with, was something nobody could legitimately approximate, much less duplicate, because it required special effects and paid actors in the audience.

Did Criss Angel get people talking about magic? Yes. Unfortunately, he emphasized how “fake” magic can be more than even the Trickbusters have, thanks to his machinations. It’s also very hypocritical of him to act like everything he does is real then expose Jim Callahan in a heartbeat (Although that whole thing seemed pretty scripted to me.). That the magical community has become so apathetic of him speaks volumes about him as well.

With all this in consideration, how can I possibly give any praise to Criss Angel? He has set the entire industry back by destroying the legitimacy of television magic, and all for the sake of feeding his own checkbook and his own ego. That is selfishness at its worst, and it is arguably even worse than what Valentino has done to the art because of “Exposed”.

So with all due apologies, I have zero respect for Criss Angel as a magician. He aptly caps off comedy month for April because quite frankly, he's a joke. A sick, twisted joke and a slap to the face of the magic industry.

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