Monday, March 12, 2007

today; How to upset 'them'

One thing is certain. Adam Curtis's new documentary series The Trap, which aired on Sunday on the BBC will have 'them' up in arms. After all, 'they' hated The Power of Nightmares so much that, in the way that 'they' respond to these things, many unpleasant and downright abusive things were said about both Curtis and The Beeb. The attacks on Curtis in the past reminded me of the similar attacks on someone like Michael Moore, where even if people get to discussing the issues, it is always prefaced with a series of undermining and generally unproven accusations and smears.

The new series, rather than polemically examining the philosophical ideological seeds of the 'War on Terror', looks at the philosphical and ideological seeds of the modern Western economy. Curtis spends his time picking away at the interface between power elites, science, ideology and politics, and it is this that upsets
'them' so much. It doesn't even matter if he is wholly and proveably correct in all of his arguments, what Curtis does is make essays on the nature of the connection between high-falutin' thought and it's effect on everyday lives.The template for this could be James Burke's Connections, which introduced a wide-eyed TV audience to the nuances and sophistication behind ideas (although in 1979 at 12 years old I personally remember only being wide-eyed at the scene of naked Russian Peasant women bathing in large barrels and the arresting demonstration of what actually happens when a broadsword hits flesh. I can still picture it in my mind - the sheer violence of Burke hacking at a pig carcass).

The very simplest measure of how close to the bone people like Curtis get is in the response. If any of his hollering detractors had bothered to watch
Century of the Self, they would have been introduced to some basic psychology. The loudest critics come at Curtis, Moore, Palast (who regularly reports for Newsnight), Amy Goodman or anyone who has a go at the status quo and tries to discuss topics with a measure of scepticism, with an edge of hysterical panic. Last week I heard a Neocon type on BBC radio trying desperately to peddle a line of defence for Cheney and Libby (Plame wasn't even in the CIA when she was named and therefore Libby shouldn't have been in front of a grand jury because the charges were bogus and wholly politically motivated and stoked up by the commie lovin' media and how dare the extreme left wing BBC reporter actually interrupt this rant to, God forbid, actually ask a question that is so loaded with bias that I'm not answering it and even if I do then you'll only edit it into syllables and put it into a sampler and make my synthetic voice say that I worship the devil because that's what you journalists do blah blah blah...yawn) that would've got the third substitute on the junior high debating team laughed out of the room. It's a simple equation: the more hysteria, the more insults and smears heaped upon journalist and film makers, the more outright lies told in response, then the closer to the bone the story/film/idea is. Have these impeccably educated elite people never read Shakespeare. Do they not undertand the concept of protesting too much? Methinks not.

So let's celebrateAdam Curtis. And even more let's celebrate the BBC. For all it's faults (
Last of The Summer Wine series 117, Jim Davidson's Generation Game, not finding a settles slot for Seinfeld or CYE, Kombat Opera, buying the new series of 3lbs) at least it retains a measure of independence, having the guts to fund and show primetime TV that would be frightening and unpalatable in many other countries.

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