Curtis makes extensive use of archive footage in his documentaries.
The Economist: Ten years ago, during the Bush administration with all its religious fervour, the academic in vogue was Richard Dawkins who was very much against stories that protected you from the notion of mortality. The Economist: But he does. We are haunted by our past behaviour played back to us through the machines in its comparison to millions of other people’s behaviour. You’ve made films about Alan Greenspan and Isaiah Berlin. Mr Curtis: He writes beautifully. So in a sense, he is slightly hypernormal. [Blaster] How did you become involved in music production? 1. And the journalism doesn’t tell us stories about that, it just repeats opinions. AM: I love that point – that the left is afraid of the power of power. They don’t mind that at all, whereas five years ago, say, they would have been more wary. They betrayed the unions, and really started to believe in this idea of free trade, markets, banks and a load of gibberish. Mr Curtis: No. We’re very prone to be reactionary…. In answer to your main question, yes it requires a big radical step, it’s called political power and politicians do have it. It’s so easy to get it wrong. Mr Curtis: (Laughs) Well you know, sometimes terrible things happen. We are guided and nudged and shaped by that. The political class have given up.
But in the 1990s that attitude spread and captured the whole of politics and at that point, they became managers. Have you these documentaries by Adam Curtis inspired you to think differently about modern history and what you read in the news? The Economist: Because they’re not real, they’re not sustainable. The Economist: Ah yes, but I qualified it by saying “Well-educated, engaged young people”. The central thing in politics is emotion. Now Richard Dawkins is unfashionable. [Blaster] Thank you for your time Curtis! The Economist: But he agrees with you. We had some screenings early on where audiences we aghast, and I was like: “Hey, we’re just starting off … relax. They think it’s a degraded version of politics, as if it were a drug that turned voters into zombies. They’ve behaved like frightened managers. The consequence of that technology is that it displays a sadness to us of missed opportunities. * Note: The highest support that UKIP received in opinion polls was 25% in October 2014, in a Survation poll for The Mail on Sunday.
The Economist: With Brexit and with climate change, if you say “We can adapt and turn this into an opportunity,” it feels like you’re rewarding and absolving the worst elements of humanity—like jingoism and the impulse to pollute—with impunity. What my films try to do is to show how these things happen and that what’s often asserted as fact is often ideology. AC: Its working title is What Is It That Is Coming? That is, until one day in early October, a few weeks after he’d been cleared of all charges. What modern management systems worked out, especially when computer networks came into being, was that you could actually manage people as groups by using data to understand how they were behaving in the mass, but you could create a system that allowed them to keep on thinking that they were individuals. And monitoring what I did yesterday and the day before and the day before that and doing the same to billions of other people. There are different ways that feeling can be expressed socially by journalists, politicians and activists. Perhaps the reason the liberal middle-class is so pessimistic is because a lot of them suspect that what they do adds little or no value to the economy around them, and that because of AI or another recession, there will be some kind of reckoning when we realise that our economy has turned millions of workers into superfluous people. They are playing stringed instruments, meditating and exploring space – and your plumber can paint like Picasso. Catherine Gee at the Daily Telegraph said that what Adam Curtis reveals, "is the dangers of human beings at their most selfish and self-satisfying. Every morning Donald Trump wakes up in the White House, he tweets something absolutely outrageous which he knows the liberals will get upset by, the liberals read his tweets and go “This is terrible, this is outrageous,” and then tell each other via social media how terrible it all is. He was subsequently given a post on That's Life!, a magazine series that juxtaposed hard-hitting investigations and light-hearted content.
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