Actually, I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong; in fact, I have a whole list of narrow beliefs I used to hold which have been replaced by broader, more nuanced views.
I was absolutely, unequivocally mistaken about Blaine for years (there, I said it). In the past I always felt a tremendous ambivalence about him. On the one hand, I could see that he blew people away and fostered a love of magic in every layperson he encountered. On the other hand, I was brainwashed by the typical magician line that he's an average talent, he uses stooges and trick photography, he's just lucky, etc. I reconciled those two views with the standard response to cognitive dissonance: I ignored them.
I now recognize that like many other magicians I, too, was blinded by jealousy. I resented that he was better looking than me, more successful, dated the beautiful women I'd like to date, got the reactions I'd love to get. And I resented that he did standard material and became rich and successful with it. My reaction had nothing to do with Blaine, of course, and everything to do with me. Blaine, as I stated in my very first post on the subject, is a mirror in which inferior magicians see their own inadequacies.
When Blaine first broke out onto the national stage, I had been a serious close-up magician for over twenty years. I had worked in restaurants, done street magic, worked in one of the top magic shops in the country, performed at the Magic Castle a bunch of times -- in short, I was an experienced and talented magician, pretty consistently well-liked by my audiences. But I seldom got the kind of reaction Blaine got. I seldom had people wonder seriously if I was real. I performed occasionally for celebrities in L.A., but I never had them adopt me as one of their own and insist I accompany them to their cool hangouts. Blaine did all that -- and then got a TV show and blew away the world.
I'm ashamed to admit that while I never trash-talked Blaine to laypeople, I would often provide a typical magician response along the lines of, "He's pretty good. He does a lot of standard material that I've been doing for years, so it's funny to see him getting these TV shows..." In other words, damning with faint praise.It's only in the last few years that I lifted the veil off my eyes and recognized Blaine for the genius he is. Once I had this shift in consciousness, Blaine's overwhelming contribution to the world of magic became clear. His influence on every magician who came along after him is incalculable; it's hardly a stretch to define Street Magic as year zero of the new magic renaissance.
I have no problem, by the way, with people who simply don't care for Blaine. But the magic boards are still, almost a decade later, filled with people referring to him as a no-talent hack and a fraud, which seems preposterously off base. I now see that the vitriol directed at Blaine has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the jealousy and extreme narrow-mindedness of the magic community at large. Blaine blows away laypeople more deeply than any magician in recent memory. He does this not by performing the most flawless Erdnase Shift, but rather through his extraordinary charisma and showmanship. For this he should be embraced as a teacher
Hatred and contempt directed at a performer who accomplishes magic for laypeople so well deserves to be examined. Too bad the magic community as a whole seems incapable of such introspection.