Podcast 48: HYPERNORMALISATION

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

What isn‘t it about?

Adam Curtis is a well-known documentary filmmaker whose work has consistently explored “power and how it works in society.” Hypernormalisation is his magnum opus, a nearly three-hour epic that jumps from subject to subject in a circuitous journey toward revelation. The film paints a vivid portrait of corporate control and increasing social insularity as it tries to make sense of our modern world’s pervasive anxiety and uncertainty.

It begins, appropriately enough, with the economic downturn in 1970s New York City and the rise of Donald Trump. It follows the transformation of the United States from democratic republic to oligarchy. It traces a line from the birth of the information age to the death of truly consequential political activism.

In Adam Curtis’s world, we are minds in the matrix, doomed to feed the machine with our bodies and souls.

WHAT DID WE THINK?

An extraordinary piece of filmmaking for the post-modern, post-truth era.  It’s also a very important – and timely – message that should be seen and processed by every thinking person wondering what the hell’s going on in today’s world.

Hypernormalisation provides much needed context for the complex problems faced by our “fearless” leaders. It chronicles how those same leaders, rather than face up to the complexities of our world, constructed a simpler – fake – reality in order to retain power.  The film also examines how the so-called counterculture contributed to this fake world because it was much more reassuring.

In other words, the elite have lost control, but rather than admit it, they lie to us. This is a sobering and terrifying admission if true.  The film is relentlessly pessimistic, but also darkly funny.  Maybe we should all take our cue from Frank Zappa and just accept that “absurdity is the only reality.”

Adam (our Adam) had some problems with Curtis’s tendency toward logical leaps and dramatic proclamations. However, in researching the filmmaker’s work it seems clear he doesn’t think of himself as a maker of documentaries in the traditional sense. His goal is to inspire his viewers to ask questions, to think. And in this he certainly succeeds.

John just wished it were longer.

What did you think?

4.25/5

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