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Peter Marucci
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A recent post here was deleted for straying off the topic (it had to do with an unfortunately named routine).

However, moderator Scott Guinn suggested to me that I may want to pursue the viewpoint in a separate thread.

Which, I suppose, accounts for this!

Far too many effects in magic are geared to the same group of people that they were geared to ages ago -- the "good ol' boys".

By the way, this has nothing to do with "politically correct" and EVERYTHING to do with common sense.

The late, great Gene Poinc used to rail against the Buddha Tubes, pointing out that they had absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism and offended millions around the world.

The thing that prompted this thread was a routine by Mac King called Retard.

What a hurtful and horrible name for any trick! One would think that a working performer in an entertainment "hot spot" like Las Vegas would have a wee bit more sensitivity -- but, go figure!

Many magic stores still sell a paper-tear called the Chinese Laundry Ticket, and the patter (if it can be called that!) ends with the magician tearing up the ticket and the supposed "Chinese" proprietor of the laudry saying "no tickee, no shirtee".

Good grief!

I was at a magic-club meeting some years back where a major name did a routine as an Italian, complete with the worst Italian accent I had every heard.
Even though I'm not Italian, but of Italian descent, I don't know which was worse: His doing the routine, or his comment to me that I shouldn't take offense because "it was all in good fun!"
That's a bit like someone telling Rev. Jesse Jackson to stop being upset and just sit back and enjoy the minstrel show!

The truly sad thing is that there are many performers out there who will not understand what I am talking about; they will go ahead making racial and ethnic slurs, sexual innuendoes, and religious "gags", and never understand why some members of the audience may be upset.

Those who complain that magic is generally classed as a second-rate form of entertainment might look at some of the practitioners for the answer to that problem!

BTW, the few examples I gave above are not unique and are just the tip of the iceberg; there are many, many effects, routines, and presentations out there -- still being done today -- that hurt or insult a big part of our audiences.
Magix
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I believe this is something that must be applied to ALL aspects of one's life, but is especially important when entertaining.

Peter, I agree that it SHOULD be a common sense issue, but unfortunately, not everyone possesses the "common sense" of which you speak.

Hence the reason for the term "politically correct" - some people must be educated. But some still won't get it and some probably never will. (I understand, Peter, your reluctance to use the term. PC does seem to have developed negative connotations, perhaps from misuse.)

In order to avoid straying from the subject, I won't say how I am affected by this, but I am offended by others on a regular basis. I mention this only to let you know how I handle the problem, because I think there is only so much that we can do.

First, we can do as I do, and as you did, and bring it to the attention of those who offend. Some will be apologetic, and understanding, and will make the effort to be more sensitive. Others will not.

Second, we can avoid effects and products we believe to be offensive, whether offensive to ourselves or to others.

There is more we can do, but as I look back on this post I see that I have rambled plenty already. So let me just say this -

Those who complain about the necessity for political correctness are usually those who are unaffected by the lack of same.
Peter Marucci
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Magix writes: "Those who complain about the necessity for political correctness are usually those who are unaffected by the lack of same."

VERY good point!
Jonathan Townsend
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Given that some antique practices may not be worth 'grandfathering' in the name of 'tradition', are we ready to mourn their passing? Are we ready to separate the magical from the rude? It is truly safer to honor tradition than to honor the art.

Even writing this, I find a great temptation to step up to a pulpit instead of climb up the hills of art a bit further and look for answers. Leaving any sense of righteousness, political correctness and other forms of willfulness dressed in helpfulness... today, here is what I'm able to see:

There are many magical moments both cognitive and visual that seem to exist within awkward prop/presentation routines. The challenge, as I see it, is to preserve the magic and transplant it into a different and perhaps more positive context.

The topic here is 'appropriate'. The idea of catering the props and presentation to the audience seems sound. If the materials are familiar to the audience, the magic may be far more effective.

Just last night, I was in a discussion where the subject turned to using postcards from museums with artwork on one side as props. The manufacture of special cards was discussed. Many classic card and coin plots were also discussed.

I'm not so sure about the 'appropriateness' of using magic/effects to teach, illustrate or demonstrate social or political beliefs to be imparted on an audience under the cover of entertainment. The line between entertainment and indoctrination is important to the audience.

Many people are trusting of the labels given to things by their parents/guardians/teachers and experience discomfort when exposed to unfamiliar perspectives and contexts. I'm going to walk back down the hill now and suggest a couple of perspective shifts as absurd examples.

Are coffee beans really dormant beetles? Mage takes bag of aromatic coffee, spills a few beans on table... waves hands... 'beans' scurry away.

Is the way children learn to sing the alphabet really a dark spell inteneded to subvert perceptions? What is the worst that could happen if one rearranged the letters? Are there any missing letters?

Okay, lunchtime... -Jonathan

Question: Would you drink/eat from the cups you use for the cups and balls? If not, why? What tradition or presupposition are you holding on to? Is it yours? Do you believe an audience shares this as true? If not, what suggests an audience would chose to believe this?

a) it said so in the book
b) it was good enough for my teacher so...
c) I paid a lot for those cups!
d) they always were, are now and always will be
e) I like to drink from strange cups
f) I want you to believe people used these in olden times
g) I use real cups and don't understand the issue
h) I borrow the cups
i) jon, your post is giving me dyslexia
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Dave Egleston
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I used to use a coffee cup/chop cup - I drank my coffee then made funny knitted balls appear and disappear in amusing, entertaining ways. I told the guys with whom I had coffee that the balls came from my daughter's teddy bear, now neutered.

Though I greatly admire Mr. Marucci and always look forward to his thought provoking posts, I am not always in line with his thinking.

I agree we need to be aware of other's sensitivities, but does this mean we shouldn't have "Ancient Chinese Secrets" or "An article found in the Mayan Temples"; or, in Mr. Marucci's case, is "Canadian Ice Snake" in poor taste?

Having been brought up in a very bigoted family, I lived the very early part of my life in ignorance, saying things without malice in my heart which make me cringe today. It wasn't until late elementary school that I learned exactly how inflammatory my everyday speech was - 180 degree turn around. Throughout Jr. High School and High School I wouldn't say anything at all about a minority - good or bad - for fear of being insensitive. Then I went in the Air Force and finally learned how to interact with my fellow man. I finished College and felt comfortable with myself once again.

After the life story - The point I'm trying to make: Today we're acting the same way I felt throughout High School - Afraid to do or say anything that may be labeled as "insensitive" or "racist" when in actuality, we should spend some time celebrating our perceived differences - Though I'm sure the example of the poor Italian accent Mr. Marucci cited was in poor taste. Are we so stupid and afraid to admit that someone learning a new language does say some things in a humorous way? Using the wrong words or words in the wrong context? I know my Mexican friends have laughed themselves silly after some of the things I thought I said in their language - should I be offended? When they tell their friends about the way I've said something - and they all laugh - I'm still not offended. I know what you're saying Mr Marucci, but by North American standards, a lot of countries do things that we think is hilarious. The English drive on the wrong side of the road - Vienna has rivers/canals for streets - The French think overcooked food is "cuisine".

I believe we all have to be aware of our differences and I believe we have a responsibility to know when humor is appropriate and when humor is harmful.

Now I have a question for Mr Marucci: After this oaf assualted your senses with this patter, did you in fact tell him you were insulted? Or is he walking around, thinking he's the funniest guy in the Province?

I'm at the age where I don't really care if I hurt an individual's feelings if in fact he's doing something improper. I'm a firm believer in confronting someone who's hurt someone's feelings - and letting them know they were out of line. In more cases than not, the person will stop and think about what he said, and modify their course of action.



Dave
Payne
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Quote:
On 2003-04-05 06:24, Peter Marucci wrote:

The thing that prompted this thread was a routine by Mac King called Retard.

What a hurtful and horrible name for any trick! One would think that a working performer in an entertainment "hot spot" like Las Vegas would have a wee bit more sensitivity -- but, go figure!


I disagree.

Far too much of this so-called "political correctness" is being voiced by those who are being offended for other people.

Yes, magic is filled with boorish insensitive louts who perform what many consider questionable material. Yet one man's questionable material is another man's Art.

Art pushes the boundaries of convention and by doing so stimulates thought and new ideas. If we allow ourselves to be censored for fear of insulting or upsetting someone then magic, just like any other theatrical discipline, will become stagnant and die.

If your eye offends thee, pluck it out, but leave my eyes alone.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Peter Marucci
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Dave writes: "Today we're acting the same way I felt throughout High School - Afraid to do or say anything that may be labeled as "insensitive" or "racist" when in actuality, we should spend some time celebrating our perceived differences."

I did not mean to imply that we should not even refer to real or perceived differences.

It's when those differences are made into a "put-down" that the trouble begins.

For example, being confused by other currencies when travelling can be funny; asking one of the locals what the price of something is in "real money" is not.

And the aptly named Payne writes: "Far too much of this so-called political correctness is being voiced by those who are being offended for other people."

I doubt that commenting on something like the use of the word "retard" would be sloughed off as politically correct by any but the most insensitive.

All I was doing was voicing what members of the Famous People Players have said about how they felt about the use of the word.

And, as for "who made you arbitrator of propriety and taste?", well, I guess I did since nobody else seemed to have the cojones to do it!

(I assume you mean "arbiter.")
Chrystal
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I have to agree with Magix; some people just don't get it.



Smile
Winston Smith
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Has someone kidnapped Peter and started impersonating him online? If so - is the ransom sufficiently high?

The PC crowd seems to forget that words have meanings for a reason. To give a definition. The word 'retard' (which has roots back to Latin) does have negative connotations. Why should it be forbidden to use a centuries old word?

In my experience, the PC lot are usually self-appointed intellectuals and in a *minority*...However as a performer, anyone would be advised to avoid offending your audience - some audiences take a lot to be offended. Benard Manning is a good example of someone who's considered offensive, but was very popular in his heyday.

-- Winston Smith
"Founding member of the Peter Marucci fan club" - credit due to an anonymous source.

Please do not 'correct' my grammar. My post said what I wanted to say the first time Smile
xicepik
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Well, personally, I don't care if someone makes a non-politically correct joke. If it's really racist and/or hurtful to other persons, I'll just say to myself ("ignorant") and I won't try to see other performances of this guy. And chances are that this person will never get a lot of jobs or will get some complaints. Racism is only the effect of ignorance.
Peter Marucci
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DON'T PAY THE RANSOM! I ESCAPED!

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk, as Larry, Moe and Curly might say! <G>

No, Winston, nobody has kidnapped me (besides the ransom could NEVER be high enough!)

Very often the PC lot are, indeed, a little "off the wall". They should be reminded not to keep such an open mind that all their brains fall out!

That said, the argument that a word has been in use for centuries is not a particularly valid one, either.

Slavery was a "civilized" institution for a couple of thousand years but that didn't make it right!

Lynching, burning at the stake, and other "fun" things were around for centuries; but that doesn't make them right.

We have -- I hope -- progressed. In the matter of the word "retard", I was only voicing what people who once would be tagged with that name are saying about it now.

And, if they object, that's a good enough reason for me.

Years ago, vaudeville-goers used to roll in aisles laughing at the "antics" of Irish, Italian, Jewish, and other immigrants, not to mention people of color -- not only blacks, but Orientals, Indians, etc.

Thank God that day has gone!

But let's not simply swap that offensiveness for a new offensiveness!

And that's not being policially correct; that's being concerned about the feelings of fellow human beings.
Eric Grossman
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[quote]

We have -- I hope -- progressed. In the matter of the word "retard", I was only voicing what people who once would be tagged with that name are saying about it now.

And, if they object, that's a good enough reason for me.


Peter,
I totally agree with you. If what you say is offensive to those you are referring to, then you should not be saying it. Good topic, sir.
Eric Grossman
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Ok I may be one of the ones who just doesn't get it. I mean I have NEVER been offended. I just don't understand the concept. I've had my feelings hurt, been made furious, saddened and so on but never offended.

I don't get the difference between "retard" and "handicapped;" they both mean the same thing, so how can they effect you differently. I mean it's easy to see if you stand up and call a challenged person a retard at the top of your lungs.

Example....the other day I bought some bathroom cleaner and on the lable it said "retards growth of mildew;" now, should I get all upset because they used a word that isn't PC? The word "retard" means slow. People don't get all hung up when you say Bad-breath instead of halitosis.

I understand these rules of conduct and as you can see I abide by them when needed. I just really don't understand them. To me this is why the trash collector is now a "sanitation engineer," and (to quote G. Carlin) "shell-shock" is now "post-traumatic stress disorder." Perhaps someday the word "magician" will become vulgar and we will want to be referred to as "awe and wonderment providers," or for some, "amazement engineers." Then what?

Oh well now that I've ether offended everyone (whatever that means) or confused everyone, I say good day. Words "should" only be hurtful and demeaning when meant to be...remember what Mr. Carlin said about "pricking your finger."

Wow, now that I've re-read this post, I see it's long and rambling from point to point, without any direction. More of a screed, I think. I must have needed to vent. So, thank you.
Winston Smith
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Give me a break. The word 'retard' hardly falls in the same category of slavery.

We can all be a bit retarded at times. Someone calls you a retard, big deal, get over it.

It has negative connotations, but does it mean we should call retarded individuals "specially gifted" or something? A euphemism is even worse than the notion it's trying to shield as from quite often. Everyone knows what you mean so why play around.

If I was releasing material I would deliberately give the books/manuscripts the titles: ****, ****, ****** etc., just to ensure it's not discussed on an open forum such as this Smile

-- Winston
Peter Marucci
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Winston, why call them anything? Why not just call them "people"?
True, a euphemism can be just as bad - or, at least, ALMOST as bad.
But to suggest that anyone being called a name should just "get over it" is not realistic.
Go to Harlem, East L.A., or the South Side of Chicago and use the "N" words; then tell the African-Americans you are using it on to "just get over it". But let us know what kind of flowers you want at your funeral, first!
It's easy to use that kind of argument against someone who won't or can't fight back.
And, Raw Voodoo, you say, "I've had my feelings hurt, been made furious, saddened and so on but never offended."
This is an argument over semantics; after all, if being hurt, saddened, and angered by something someone said isn't having your feelings hurt, then wotinhell is!
sourcerer
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...and I am just amazed someone even uses energy to defend the use of the word 'retard'.

>>Someone calls you a retard, big deal, get over it

Some people are disabled...it's pretty hard to get over y'know?

And yeah...let's go around yelling the F word too...after all it's centuries old.

I must be too self-appointed intellectual, since I do try to respect other people's feelings, and see very little point in using a degrading term (whether it once upon a long ago had that negative connotation or not doesn't really matter, it's what it means NOW; to the person referenced or those that DO care) when there are better options to choose from.

Sometimes I just don't "get it"

Kaj :o)
Magix
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Quote:
On 2003-04-07 08:04, sourcerer wrote:
...I do try to respect other people's feelings, and see very little point in using a degrading term (whether it once upon a long ago had that negative connotation or not doesn't really matter, it's what it means NOW; to the person referenced or those that DO care)...


This is exactly why RawVoodoo's example involving bathroom cleaner is irrelevant. In that example, the term "retard" was used in a legitimate way that should not be offensive to anyone.

Also, RawVoodoo, while I enjoy George Carlin's humor, the real reason that "Shell Shock" became PTSD is because we know a lot more about Post-traumatic Stress today than we did during WWI and WWII. It's now known that people don't have to be involved in combat to be suffer from Post-traumatic Stress (Serious car accident victims, rape victims, plane crash victims, and rescue workers are all on the list of those who can feel Post-traumatic Stress or even develop PTSD).

But again, I don't want to stray from the subject. It is not always the word itself, but the way in which it is used.
Peter Marucci
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Exactly, Magix.
The word "retard", if used to describe a bathroom cleaner, is fine.
If used to describe a human being, well - that's another story, as it should be!

Is it so difficult to understand that human beings have feelings that can be badly hurt by insensitivity -- whether done casually or for "humor"?

Let's have a little mutual respect; surely we've crawled out of our caves by now!
Phil Pearce
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Peter, you wrote:
"For example, being confused by other currencies when travelling can be funny; asking one of the locals what the price of something is in "real money" is not."

I disagree. I think that's pretty funny, and my disagreement goes to the heart of your premise. That may not be funny to you or others, but it is to me and others.
Cheers!
Phil
Reg Rozee
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I think Peter is bang on. I see a great similarity between the use of these types of terms /presentations and bullying. You do something that is hurtful to someone because you are in an advantageous position (you speak the language better, you are on your "hometurf", you are not mentally handicapped, etc.), it gets you an audience that for one reason or another probably won't do the same thing but still wants to watch, and you get something out of it (power, reputation, fame/infamy, paid, smug satisfaction, whatever).

How many of you think bullying is acceptable? Hey, it makes the kid who is bullied tougher, right? It teaches them the "facts of life", doesn't it? It entertains all the other kids, doesn't it? No one gets hurt, right? Right? Sure. You don't believe that, do you? Read a newspaper sometime.

If you can't understand why some terms are not acceptable to some groups of people considering how complex human culture and interaction is, I see only two possibilities: ignorance or under-socialization. Either one would make you your very own special kind of "retard"! Offended? If so, why? It's just a word, right? This time it just happens to apply to you.

Anyone can achieve some partial success by pandering to the lowest common denominator. Personally I don't think it says very much about your talent as an entertainer. Stand up on a stage, make fun of somebody, everyone laughs. Big deal-- career progression for bullies. Ever wonder how many people are saying under their breath "He's funny! But what a ****!" Try entertaining people without picking on anyone but yourself-- now that's a challenge.

-bigwolf {*}
Reality is what doesn't go away when you stop believing in it. -Phillip K. Dick



Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes? -Chico Marx
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