I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I do not see taking the art seriously (which I know that you do) and not wanting it “written off” as a child's entertainment (which it so often is) as elitist.
I wish I had a buck for the times that I have had this conversation (after doing some magic for a group of adults; keeping in mind that I am not a paid performer):
Q: “Do you do kid's parties?”
A: “No; what I do is not really geared toward kids.”
Q: “Oh, yes; I suppose that's true.”
Even though what they just witnessed was “adult” oriented (but in no way obscene – I'll get to that in moment), they immediately assume, because I do magic, that I also do kid's shows. That
is the issue. That being a magician automatically
means bunnies out of hats and balloon doggies. Not that there's anything wrong with doing those things.
It's just not my
thing. I do not see anything wrong with an artist wanting to elevate his art beyond those assumptions
(not the bunnies and balloon doggies – just the assumptions), and that is what Ricky Jay is trying to do. He even says that it's “not about the children.”
Out of curiosity, why does “adult” have to be associated with obscenity and/or violence? Isn't that the same pigeonholing that is happening with the “kids' magic” assumptions? 52 Assistants
was certainly an adult oriented show. Yes, there are a few 13 year olds who would not have been bored out of their socks, but they are in the minority (take it from one who has countless seasons as a youth hockey and baseball coach under his belt: very well behaved 10 through 13 year-olds are a rarity). But, even with reviewers saying that the show was geared toward adults, this would in no way would have stopped the onslaught of kids that would have been taken to see the show because of the “it's a magic show, it must be for kids” mentality. How many times have you seen little
kids in "R' rated films to which their parents had no business bringing them?
Is Jay's 17 and over age limit too restrictive? Perhaps. Could he have had a “between 13 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult” tenet? Again, perhaps so: But it's easier just to place the strict age restriction and not have to deal with the inevitable attempts at bending the rules and parents who feel their “little angels” would never cause a problem (again, I cite the modern movie theater experience). Yes, it's a shame that those well behaved, serious students are left out of his show, but this is not a case where a few good
apples make the barrel acceptable.