Monday, March 26, 2007

Grown-up television

I have really enjoyed Adam Curtis' recent series: The Trap. It was wide-ranging, to be sure, and came up with a narrative of post-war social and economic thinking that was so neat and tidy, able to take in everything from the Khmer Rouge to Thatcher and everything(?) in-between that it stretched credibility.
Some great touches: a nice bit of editing which followed a section likening a certain view of modelling human beings' rational choices as if they were robots to footage of Thatcher at a conference staring motionless for a second before stirring into life, 'booting-up'; a nice juxtaposition of the US administration's justifications for invading Nicaragua ('They have chemical weapons ready to launch against the US at short notice...') with more recent propaganda; and our own Tony launching a passionate defence of 'Liberty' against footage from an old black-and-white movie of the French Revolution. So it was a funny series, too.
But what was most important about it was that Curtis was able to develop a view over three hours without interruption or phone votes or texts from viewers expressing their 'opinions'. And it was up to the audience to believe it or not, disagree or not, as and when they felt like it. Agree with some but not all; disagree violently with all of it, but still think it an interesting piece of polemic. Watching it made you feel like you were being treated by a TV producer as a grown-up with a brain. And that it was accepted that you could manage watching something that might tax you, or you might disagree with but still enjoy the experience.
There's more about Adam Curtis on his Wikipedia entry, including links to sites where you can view his other work. Excellent stuff.

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