I have had a magical weekend. I saw Derren Brown’s show Something Wicked This Way Comes on friday, and on saturday I saw a television programme on David Blaine drowning himself, and on some of his street tricks. It was interesting to watch two very different magicians mesmerizing their audiences with clevererly prepared routines. What was even more interesting was to watch the reactions of the people who were the victims of their magic. I was shocked by the reactions of the American public, shocked to the bone that people could be quite as simple and naive. Majority of the Americans in the show that I was watching reacted to Blaine’s magic by asking him whether he was psychic, a guru, or spiritually gifted. None of them ever thought for a second that it could be a clever trick. I for one believe that it is a massive leap of faith to explain stage or street magic as something supernatural. I do no say that because I am of a sceptical disposition, I say that because I have the ability to question and because I have researched magick and psychic powers more than well enough to have a distinct idea of what may be possible and what may not. That is why I much prefer Derren Brown, who explains his tricks as a mixture of psychology, deception, trickery and showmanship. He even gives you brief explanations at the end of the show, but keeping in spirit of the trickster, these explanations are usually false and even more misleading than the tricks themselves. I prefer a man who hides trickery behind the label of psychology (which is very smart and modern) rather than the man who hides his skill behing the label of magic (which is out-dated and ineffective).
That brings me to the comparison I wanted to make, the real reason for you reading this article. Simply put, David Blaine is too much of a redneck and show-off for me to take him seriously or give him the praise that he deserves for his amazing magic and mind-boggling feats of survival. He is very skilled and very brave and those two qualities make him praise-worthy, yet he has an air of simplicity around him, and arrogance masked by fake humility, which make him despicable. David Blaine’s cult of personality is one of the more pathetic ones, as can be seen in any one of his tv shows, and the way that he portrays himself. On the other hand Derren Brown has the air of an intellectual trickster, a devil in suit with a smile on his face, horns hidden through careful deception. He is therefore much more likable, and his very different kind of arrogance is much more endearing.
Can magic be used as a metaphor to the culture and societal development of a country? Well, taking David Blaine as an avatar of America, Derren Brown of Britain, I believe that it can. Derren Brown is the sceptical, arrogant, and skilled, high-class trickster of British society, while David Blaine represents the skilled, yet simple and naive American citizen, who treats fame as a means to an end. I believe that the best proof I can give of this is the way that these two magicians are treated outside of their countries. David Blaine has not been accepted by the British public – as a matter of fact he was bombarded by food the last time he tried one of his feats in London. Derren Brown has yet to face his test, for his is virtually unknown in America, but I somehow believe that he will be successful.
And that brings me to the conclusion. I have to start by explaining that this article is not a pre-meditated attack on America, its values or its citizens. I simply find it painful to watch Americans being stupid. If it takes mockery and contempt to educate the citizens of a country that is supposedly the last big super-power, then so be it. I myself am not British, nor do I strive to be. I have my issues with the Brits more so than any American who live outside of Britain. As a matter of fact I dislike the majority of Brits just as much as I dislike the majority of Americans. The only think that I can say is that Brits have never been guilty of being stupid without feeling ashamed of it. People in America have forgotten that shame can be a force of change, a valuable tool, and in their fake arrogance and celebration of their faults, they have given birth to a country that is never accountable to anything wrong, bad or hurtful. Repression and denial have emerged victorious on a national level. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is simply unacceptable.