Television, the drug of the nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation*.
– Michael Franti, Disposable Heroes of Hipocrisy, way back in 1991.
*Except when youâ€™re watching television via the internet. Then itâ€™s edumacational.
Dosing Up in December
Sure, youâ€™re busy hang-gliding in South America, writing a book about your ancestors, trekking across snowy mountains, learning new veterinary surgical techniques, scuba diving near the equator, recording your album, making your screenplay, movie, animation, contemporary dance piece etc. Itâ€™s ok. TV still loves you, whether in short syrupy bursts (should we watch *another* episode of that sitcom we downloaded?) or in the longer-form seduction of a well made documentary series. And the best bit is, itâ€™s not an either / or situation, you donâ€™t have to choose. Some possible additions for your download stocking:
Yes, yes, how many hours of my life are forever gone, stolen by this candy-coated, smooth talking glimpse inside the Hollywood celebrity circuit. It’s a simple recipe : in exchange for your soul, you are delivered inside A-list parties, VIP room, luxury yachts, the playboy mansion, all the while accompanied by your new best friends. They start shooting a 6th season early next year, which’ll mean another batch of juicy cameo roles, following on from the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Snoop Dogg and Larry David.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Aye, another sitcom about the mega-wealthy looking for ways to pass time. It should be doubly annoying given it features Larry David as a neurotic semi-retiree, and yet his peculiar brand of self-deprecation eventually charms, the comic timing honed from his years creating Seinfeld, where of course you got to see in series 3 Tom Hanks playing an immigrant “discovering” America while stuck in an airport terminal. Tom Hanks, who is useful mainly in a Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation kind of way, as producer of the film ‘The Wild Things‘, to link us to Spike Jonze, who is directing that film due to be released in 2009 along with a novel based on Where the Wild Things Are, as penned by Dave Eggers, the guy who has not only written â€œA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Geniusâ€( both the title and description of his book ), but founded McSweeney’s Journal. Which incidentally, also releases a delightfully curated selection of short films every few months as the Wholphin DVD series. Guess which eye-opening 3-part BBC doco they included in full with issues 2, 3 and 4?
The Power of Nightmares
Adam Curtis would have you believe that the rise of both the neo-conservative right wing of the United States and Islamic terrorism, stem from the same source: the use of fear as a method for those in dominant positions to maintain their power. After three episodes, it’s a compelling argument, traced across the last few decades with actual interviews and statements from the key figures over that time. In order to bind society together from an immoral, atomised fate, both camps argue in various ways, fear of an overarching enemy is needed.
Try watching contemporary news again after watching the section on the creation of U.S.S.R. as an enemy, where even the C.I.A. themselves downplayed the Soviet threat, and dismissed as rubbish the idea that the U.S.S.R. was centrally organising all terrorist activity worldwide, including in Northern Ireland and remote Africa. And yet in the face of all evidence, the myth was seen as good for the country, so the policy was pursued in the face of the facts.
Also worth a look, his doco-series : ‘The Century Of The Self’ and ‘The Trap – What Happened to our Dream of Freedom?’. All waiting for viewing at google video or downloading from your favourite torrent site.