Daniel Eran Dilger
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The Century of the Self


Google Video is hosting Adam Curtis’ “The Century of the Self,” a powerful BBC documentary on the use of psychoanalysis to perfect propaganda under the term “public relations,” both to control the crowds in democracies, sell products to the emerging consumer class, and to pander to populist political ideals. Four fascinating segments you should watch.

The Century of the Self – Google Video

If you have a shorter attention span, try the four minute: “The Rise and Fall of the Television Journalist”

  • Babysealclubber

    Thank you for introducing me to Adam Curtis, I’ve been watching his documentaries since your TPoN post, and have learned *a lot.*

  • ty

    I have been a long time reader but never made a comment before. I very much enjoy your blog. I am amazed that you have not seen these videos before. I hope that you can reach people that have not seen them as they are very poignant. I showed a friend of mine the videos on the internet and he went right out a bought them!

    I am sure everyone is taught in school how advertising manipulate things to make you want to consume but I never fully imagined how insidious these manipulations where until I saw this documentary.

  • bilogics

    Daniel, another rich source of most of Adam Curtis documentaries is:
    You can download the high quality version of his documentaries. http://www.archive.org is a very rich source for all kind of media.

    [Thanks for the link. I’m watching “The Trap,” another series on Google Video but not on Archive it appears. I don’t think any of these have ever been broadcast in the US. Curtis said there was “no way” that US TV would have shown “Power of Nightmares.” I saw the first episode on Wholphin (a DVD series of short films). They are apparently not available on DVD themselves, so I was excited to find them on Google Video.]

  • seanw

    i discovered these docs last year. they are powerful and eye opening.

    after watching them, it’s like having a superpower when you leave the house. like a superpowered bullshit detector.

    thanks for posting these and keep up the great analysis, political and technological alike.

  • thom

    Thanks for reminding me about Adam Curtis. My commute entertainment for next week is now covered.

    I hope you’re recovering well – keep up the great work.

  • Joel

    Its kind of interesting that these programmes are only just reaching the US since the were broadcast on the BBC a while ago…!

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  • dobbie

    Ironically, one of the most effective forms of manipulation available are probably… the political documentary.

    The images, the sound mixing – and most importantly of all: The content. All is formed by the auteur to push a (usually) pre-determined message.

    Indeed – if you have just watched a “message documentary”, you can be pretty certain that you have just been subjected to a far more comprehensive PR campaign of selective omission, stylistic manipulation and carefully selected topics than any common public relations campaign could get away with. Images are powerful, no? But comparative reading of texts is usually a better way of actually informing yourself.

  • ty

    I agree with dobbie. Reading or seeing just one documentary or text doesn’t inform an individual or even a series from the same author or group.

    If you have an interest then you have to get a number of different angles about the topic. Even trying to seek different views. It’s important for individuals to even have their ideas confronted so they don’t get complacent with their personal ideology. Even look up the stated facts from various sources.

    I think that this is an issue that Daniel rails against. Various “news” outlets come out with similar “commentary” and even “get the facts”, “TCO study” and dare I say it “Statistics”. All of these are skewed to various view points. Many other “news outlets” pick up the story and run with whatever seems to be the popular opinion.

    I don’t know how many times I have seen a news outlet characterise Microsoft as revolutionise the PC industry with Windows. That they invented the GUI? Brought the “user friendly” experience to the unwashed masses? The people to hear don’t care as long as they get their E-mail, facebook, porn and can fill their iPod with music from iTunes.

    I know I wandered but… this is all the same. Everyone has their own agendas based on ideology and money. You can’t really believe anyone, you have to get a second opinion and third and fourth. Even to the point of finding dissenting views. It’s a given. It’s why your here and not reading cnet right now, right?