While we do poke fun at Criss Angel a lot here, we have to ask how much impact his magic is having on the public perception of magic. While this isn’t a Criss bashing post (although some of you will see it as that) defenders of Angel will brag that Criss is responsible for making magic popular again.
Magic IS popular right now, but maybe not in a way you would think. Currently there are several national TV commercials running that use magic as a theme to promote the product. These include Ditech, Robatussin, Icy Hot, McDonald’s chicken nuggets and finally the Houdini corkscrew.
Where the argument of Angel’s influence in magic popularity comes into play is that all of these commercials portray the stereo-type magician and not a hipper “anti-magician” like Angel portrays himself. Angel appeals to a mostly younger demographic, and with the exception of McDonald’s, the other products wouldn’t appeal to a younger demographic.
So an argument could be made that Angel is responsible for making magic popular with a younger demographic and not the population in general.
You really have to give credit to both Angel & David Blaine because they have a harder time than either Doug Henning or David Copperfield in breaking through and staying out there. 30+ years ago when both of these guys were starting to gain popularity on TV there were only 3 networks, PBS and some local UHF stations. Cable TV was in it’s infancy and hardly anyone had it, so it was easier to get the public’s attention. Also, the concept of trick photography was different then than it is now where CGI is a factor.
Celebracadabra capitalizes on magic’s popularity by finding a niche audience (as Angel does) who likes magic, are a fan of a particular celebrity & will cheer them on through the competition and those who are looking for something unique in a reality/competition format.
With Phenomenon we learned a couple of things – Criss Angel can’t share the spotlight and needed to “one-up” all the contestants and the general public doesn’t want to watch an hour of “serious drama” magic routines. Mike Super had something the most of the others didn’t – an engaging personality who people could connect with and an Ellusionist 1800 Vintage Deck!
Fortunately Criss isn’t involved with Celebracadabra and the performers are not magicians, so they are bringing their own engaging personalities to the effects thereby creating an entertaining atmosphere. The general viewers of the show will come away with a higher regard for magic because they will have been entertained and the clever magicians will come away with some lessons in showmanship.