'Penn & Teller: Try This at Home’: The controversial White House flag-burning trick that stirred up a storm

'Penn & Teller: Try This at Home’: The controversial White House flag-burning trick that stirred up a storm
Penn Jillette and Teller (Getty Images)

Amerian magician duo Penn & Teller, who have been performing since the 1970s, are returning tonight (May 18) with a whole new episode of ‘Penn & Teller: Try This at Home’ to boggle your mind amid the coronavirus lockdown. Filmed at home entirely, the television special features new tricks developed by  Penn & Teller and their magician friends, while being joined by celebrity guests including Elle, Dakota Fanning, Michael carbonara and Shin Lim. 

While we eagerly await to witness an array of magic from their end, one couldn’t help but wonder if they would attempt something as controversial as their act of 2013, which continues to be ripe for discussion even years after it was done and literally dusted. We are talking about the infamous ‘West Wing’ episode ‘In the Room’ performed by them at the White House nearly nine-year ago. Their vanishing flag and Bill of Rights illusion includes a scene where the pair of magicians is seen entertaining a fictional character, Zoey Bartlet, the daughter of a fictional US president who is having a birthday party. 

While performing the act, Penn conceals an American flag in a tube made out of a copy of the Bill of Rights before setting it ablaze. Although they restore the flag in the end, using another trick, neither Penn nor Teller reveal if the flag was actually burned and choose to end their performance while it’s still bound in ambiguity. Penn & Teller justified their act stating, “The Supreme Court has ruled that we can do whatever we want with the flag”, but they faced immense backlash for even attempting a trick inside the White House which offended many including the Presidential aides. 

Their high controversial act left the citizens divided, who continue to argue if they deserve to be punished for their actions or not. One Twitter user noted, “It’s 1st amendment right freedom of speech but u s/b ashamed of yourself believing it's ok to desecrate the flag; u lost a fan.” Another expressed on Reddit, “Like every P&T trick on the show, it's another from their act. Obviously they like to have a message in some of their act, and while they did tell how it's done, it is still an illusion." Meanwhile, one of the recent tweet reads, “I guess Trump will strip you of your citizenship. Newfoundland is good people. They'll welcome you back with open arms."


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 Penn Teller Try This Home US flag burning trick controversy