Adam Curtis : Socio-Political Documentary Remix for the Capitalist Realist ( Post Production )

Adam Curtis has long been producing highly informative political documentaries for the BBC. Many of these cut-&-paste docu-mixes have gathered a cult status through YouTube and the like. His Blog is a superb example of how the Internet can provide some lovely, insightful, nuggets of sociological commentary that is both historically enlightening and painfully relevant to current political shifts. His style is not dissimilar to the emerging style of documentary programming that the information overload of todays archival accessibility has incubated, the effect is powerful and immediately accessible to the viewer. Michael Moore's bombastic exercises in statistical distortion and unhinged uber-liberal common sensicalism also employ similar 'cut & paste' strategies to labour a point or exaggerate an opinion. Whereas Moores tone is simply akin to liberalist lynching and 'boo hiss' reactionism Curtis' voice is a much more objective ( in feel ) and reserved dialogue - or rather Curtis is just so more English! Moore's films often feel like two hours of 'hock dang those crooks aint right', thankfully Curtis is much more reserved and favours ponderous academica over sensationalism. The Power of Nightmares looks at the rise and blossom of orwellian methods of fear mongering amongst politicians and world leaders, regardless of continent or religion, Neo-Conservatives, radical Islamists, Russian and Chinese Communists and British New Labour have all modeled an evil enemy in order to provide leverage for ulterior political/economical motives. I won't comment on the myriad of complex relationships between radical Islamists, American Neo-Conservatives and Russian communism, Curtis' documentaries are much more enlightening than I could ever hope to be. However I will comment on a much more general theme of the three films. The over arching, or rather underlying cause of so much of the events explored in Curtis' films is the absence of a belief in a big, world changing, idea. If politics cannot offer this there is nothing left with enough emotional power to resonate strongly enough to keep people working and striving for a God and country. The only option left is to revert to the inverse of a positive world changing idea, the idea that even though things are OK, there is an evil enemy, unseen and unheard that must be kept at bay in order to preserve the current equilibrium. Whilst the prospect of Curtis uncovering an alternate reality where there are actually no tangible "evil doers" may be quite refreshing and positive the implication that politics has jettisoned hope for a better future in order to install an unrelenting fear of slipping from the normal, established secure mundanity of modern life is essentially depressing and devastating. To use an analogy, today we are prisoners, who would rather stay within the prison walls rather than venture outside, the risk and fear of the unknown ( always from within our own psyche's ) has been enabled in order to suspend a generation in a constant state of feverish panic, working, efficiently and tenaciously, to avoid an imaginary bogey man. Now we are trapped in our own politico-psychological prison, whereas before we used to look forwards and have the tantalizing pull of a Utopian horizon order our efforts and our desires.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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