It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.
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erdnasephile
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It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby erdnasephile » September 20th, 2017, 11:14 am

Some are probably a bit disappointed there are no magicians in the AGT Finals this year, but honestly, this is the most "magical" act I've seen in a long time:




In case you don't know her story:




When I watch stuff like this, I hear Denny Haney in my head saying: "What's your excuse?"

Brad Henderson
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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby Brad Henderson » September 20th, 2017, 11:30 am

i've said it before and i'll say it again - AGT is the modern day freak show

here is a boy whose father rejects him, but he can dance like you and i. Here is an unattractive human being who you find repulsive, but listen to her sing opera. His mom is dying of cancer but he can do magic tricks.

Look, Mable, the armless man can roll a cigarette, he ain't so different than us.

It was considered exploitative then, now its par for the course.

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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby I.M. Magician » September 20th, 2017, 1:04 pm

On one hand, I think it's wonderful when they highlight a talent who has or is currently trying to overcome a hardship. I am truly inspired and delighted by these people and feel for them greatly.

On the other hand, they should not dwell on the issue and it should be a genuine hardship if they are going to mention it.

There was a singer on AGT this season who wrote a million songs about getting over a girl who rejected him. Come on! Get over it dude!! That's not a hardship worthy of pulling at the audience's heartstrings.

There was another who, all of a sudden, introduced a hardship after about three performances. Why now? I saw it as jumping on the bandwagon and found it to be somewhat annoying.

There were a few this season who really had to overcome a hardship of some kind and I hope that their appearances on AGT brought them great relief because that would be wonderful and they certainly deserve it!

So there's my two cents on the matter for what it's worth...

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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby Brad Henderson » September 20th, 2017, 4:06 pm

talent for the sake of talent should always be appreciated. manipulation and exploitation, not so much.

this is why i fast forward through all that nonsense when i watch the show. I don't care about whatever story they are trying to attach to you. Make me care with your talent then maybe i will want to know about you the person. i feel this way about the olympics. Once they became soap operas with medals i lost all interest.

I'm reminded of richard turner who never wanted the audience to give him a pass because of the obstacles he had to face. he worked to be accepted for his skill on its own merit. While i think it's smart
for him to let the audience know for reasons unrelated to his personal narrative, irespect that he never chose to make that his primary story line.

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erdnasephile
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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby erdnasephile » September 20th, 2017, 4:58 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:I'm reminded of richard turner who never wanted the audience to give him a pass because of the obstacles he had to face. he worked to be accepted for his skill on its own merit. While i think it's smart
for him to let the audience know for reasons unrelated to his personal narrative, irespect that he never chose to make that his primary story line.


I realize AGT has packaged her this way, but I think Ms. Harvey makes it clear in the NBC News piece that she doesn't wish to be known as the "deaf jazz singer", but rather as a singer first.

I'm probably naive, but I take encouragement and joy from the way exceptional human beings overcome obstacles to succeed. (Richard Turner included)

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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby Brad Henderson » September 21st, 2017, 9:47 am

at what point does it cross the line of exploitation and manipulation? how is aft any different than the freak shows of the 30's?

human triumph is one thing. Putting the freaks on display another. agt feels too much like the later and not enough like the former

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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby I.M. Magician » September 21st, 2017, 9:56 am

AGT is supposed to be about talent. Other factors should not play into it really but AGT seems to have used that theme in their shows.

I do agree that only the talent should be the determining factor in selecting a winner.

AGT has other issues with their show. Last night, after two hours of waiting, they finally announced the winner. Then, they proceeded to drop so much confetti that you could no longer see the stage and the winner. Then, when they wanted the winner's reaction, the show was abruptly ended and went off the air. What a mess!

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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby erdnasephile » September 21st, 2017, 2:53 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:at what point does it cross the line of exploitation and manipulation? how is aft any different than the freak shows of the 30's?

human triumph is one thing. Putting the freaks on display another. agt feels too much like the later and not enough like the former


Fair point. (Although I would point out, the majority of the top 10 vote getters really didn't have huge sob stories (and neither did the winner), so perhaps the voting public isn't buying quite everything AGT is selling).

Interestingly, although AGT does tend to go over the top, the byproduct of their "sell" is doing something that magicians are always being encouraged to do: that is, they end up revealing something about the performer beyond their skill that the audience can relate to or emotionally engage with. Yes, AGT is ham handed and manipulative at times, but the underlying principle is worth learning from for amateurs like me.

Finally, Re: the singer in question: here's a quote from an NPR interview (which I think jibes nicely with what we're all trying to say).

But Harvey is now on her biggest stage ever – national television. And she wants to be judged on her voice and her songs, not her backstory.

"Not that I'm hiding my disability or whatever you would call it," she says. "I don't find it to be really a disability. It's just I do things differently and I want people to appreciate music for what it is, and not because of a story. I'm not a story; I'm a person, and my passion is music. And I want your passion to be my music – so, judge me on my music."

Diego
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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby Diego » September 22nd, 2017, 10:03 pm

The use of the (back) story for the contestant/performers is nothing more than standard TV production practice. The producers/directors want the public to KNOW the personalities they put on the show, maybe identify with them, so they will CARE about them and want to WATCH them to see WHAT happens to them, and be a part of THEIR moment by rooting/caring about them.
More (multiple)votes went for "American Idol" finalists than presidential candidates.

I have been a contestant coordinator for different TV game shows, and (depending on the nature of the show) when choosing who to bring to a taping, it was common to favor someone who we regarded as endearing, and better yet, adorable, if not too so, and were enjoying the experience of being on TV. You would want someone on the show , who if they won, audience members would say, "I'm glad THEY won."

A producer of "The Price is Right" once said, he would choose someone who if they won, they could generate a tear of happiness for themselves and hopefully also the audience. (Mark Goodson: "Television is all about the reaction shot.")

Exploitation/manipulation? What is the point of TV? Answer: Provide programs and personalities that sell products and services.
Some might say the stories can be out there. Keep in mind the producers are asking what story they could share, or if they can't think of one, to go home and call back when they do.
Someone who worked on "Love Connection" would ask contestants who enjoyed their date and didn't have complaints about the other person, "there MUST have been something, (and if you want to get on national TV) tell us now."

On another note, "Freak Shows of the 1930's", or more correctly called, Sideshows by those of us who worked in them, presented Human Oddities, (show people didn't call them freaks) who could show and/or tell what their lives were like and what they could do. Many of those I worked with, (some owned their own attractions) were proud and glad to be working/performing, especially when society gave them very little access to work, social, community opportunities. These shows continued for decades after the 1930's, sometimes by Human Oddities who went to court for THEIR RIGHT to earn their living. Were they exploiting themselves, or promoting themselves? Which is the proper language?

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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby JFox » November 17th, 2017, 6:19 pm

"Undercover Boss" is similar....The employees utilized on the program always have some heart-felt, sad life story to tell the Boss.
But why not?...a TV audience doesn't want to see some wealthy and trouble-free person gifted with a 10K scholarship or a paid vacation, etc.

For the most exploitive television program of all time...it has to be "Queen for a Day":
Only the person with the most miserable, depressing, and hopeless life...wins!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao2FXUYpYOY

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Re: It's not magic, but AGT 2017-- Whoa!

Postby Christopher1979 » November 17th, 2017, 7:15 pm

There is a lot of true things being said here and after going to see Richard Turners DEALT a few nights ago this rang bells. Richard Turner made a point of really disliking people that said such things like " He is an expert at card mechanics and hes blind too". He wants to be known as just an expert card mechanic and thats it. His blindness is irrelevant at least to him. Lay people and the Media have a different opinion and thats understandable. I thought i was just going to see DEALT because i love Richard Turners work but this was a wonderful documentary that showed the human spirit in so many powerful ways.

I must admit that i am sick to the back teeth with this AGT format..... I put on the Paul Daniels Magic Show Halloween Special from 1987 and i was in my element... real entertainment :D


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