Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Century of the Self

The Century of the Self asks deep questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism, representative democracy and its implications. It also questions the modern way we see ourselves, the attitude to fashion and superficiality.

The business and, increasingly, the political world uses PR to read and fulfill our desires, to make their products or speeches as pleasing as possible to us. Curtis raises the question of the intentions and roots of this fact. Where once the political process was about engaging people's rational, conscious minds, as well as facilitating their needs as a society, the documentary shows how by employing the tactics of psychoanalysis, politicians appeal to irrational, primitive impulses that have little apparent bearing on issues outside of the narrow self-interest of a consumer population. He cites a Wall Street banker as saying "We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. [...] Man's desires must overshadow his needs."

If you only have time to watch one, make it part 3 

part 2

part 3

part 4

1 comment:

andrew said...


This is an incredible video. I've seen one segment of it before, and did not know that there were multiple segments.

It's amazing to realize how thoroughly our goals and inner strivings are partially a creation of theoretical movements.

But it's also a little scary because it's hard to know the difference between stripping away the cultural programming and giving yourself a lobotomy.