Adam Curtis

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
There has been a Curtis backlash and I'm inpatient with it. I'm impatient with the philistinism of career leftists.I'm impatient with their need for simple storylines, for heroes and villains, noble sacrifices, noble savages, noble proles and a moral at the end of every story.
Every man and woman a self-apppointed party whip. Stick to the Script. Toe the Party Line. Denounce first ask questions later. There's a Revolution to Foment.

None of us, no matter what level of security clearance we have, know what is going on in the world. Cause and effect is not simple. It's not a mechanical process that can be mapped out in an easy to follow timeline. Chaos lies under the surface. People's motivations are not clearcut and one dimensional. Our motives are murky, even to ourselves. State and non state actors lie, obfuscate, deal in disinformation and misdirection until they tie even themselves in knots. Sorting the truth from fiction is a game of educated guesswork.

Stories are constructed by cherrypicking motes of data from a swirling dust storm, and joining them together. The truth of these stories can only ever be partial at best. Í got too drunk that night becasue my girlfriend said something mean to me and I felt sad' 'Terrorism is caused by Western Imperialism/The words of the Holy Koran'

Adam Curtis is not attempting to enter his own Overarching Explanation in the Grand Prize Draw, he is demonstrating how large the dust storm is, and how many motes of dust are caught up in it, and correspondingly, how many stories there are to be told.

His films say, the explanations you have been fed are too pat. One dimensional. Monocausal. The actor flashing his pearly whites on the red carpet was not the real star of the show. Here are just a few of the other characters and events which gave shape to history.

That approach is not for the literal minded. It is playful and yet it has a serious intent. Philistines like their Art with the ambiguity taken out. They resent Curtis. He is having fun. He is having a laugh and worst of all he is nobodys True Believer. He is an agnostic and he makes films which preach the gospel of Agnosticism. That is why they are useful.
 

Patrick Swayze

I'm trying to shut up
An old friend of mine knows him quite well. Says he's also a global warming denier who believes it became an issue after some old upper-class eugenicist/Nazi sympathiser persuaded the world's leading scientific bodies that AGW was a reality as some dastardly plot to advance the cause of population control. (My mate actually believes this shit too, he wasn't trying to discredit him.)

That's a doc I'd like to see, though I hope for his rep he never makes it.

edit: Curtis, that is., not Rupey.
this sounds like the plot of utopia
 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
i went to his presentation as part of the bbc arabic festival.
first of all, he should not have been there.
not because hes not an arabic filmmaker, but because, despite his opening talking about how most brits' view of the middle east is one dimensional and simplistic, his presentation was largely not to do with arab countries, or even libya, really, but about the west, western politics, british citizens' somewhat ignorant view of our own govt's hypocrisies.
all well and good, as these are good things to make us think about, but again, despite saying we reduce the ME to simplistic caricatures, what does his presentation on the west's use, abuse, and manipulation of gaddafi do? make gaddafi into a LOL meme, more or less.
okay, gaddafi is a bit cartoonish, but curtis wasnt really interested in much of libyan history or gaddafi's own politics, faulty though they may be, he was just interested in looking clever, using some cool archive footage (he is far too limited by the available footage in what he has to say, sometimes i wondered if he had anything to say that he couldnt find footage for), and making some good montages set to rihanna songs.
i am simplifying (ho ho) what he did of course, but the end result was that adam curtis, for all his good intentions, and his intelligence, isnt so much a smug propaganda-ist as he said, but a documentary version of an opinion columnist, around the same level as someone like stewart lee, or that guy from peep show maybe.
he made some good points about nationalism, the stories we tell to establish it, and how a figure like gaddafi is used to justify western views of arabic nations and their leaders and people, but it was all really in the service of telling us more about ourselves, than this 'other' that we have constructed over many decades, and how that other may not be entirely what we have been led to think it is.
as he himself said when someone asked him about the modern political situation in libya, 'im no expert, maybe someone in the audience knows?'
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Good post, rdr.

his presentation was largely not to do with arab countries, or even libya, really, but about the west, western politics, british citizens' somewhat ignorant view of our own govt's hypocrisies.
Well yeah, I'm sure no-one here needs to be told that (Westerners') anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist politics can be just as West-centric as the imperialism they criticize.
 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
Good post, rdr.

Well yeah, I'm sure no-one here needs to be told that (Westerners') anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist politics can be just as West-centric as the imperialism they criticize.
ill be upfront and say ive only watched a few of his films, but i find them most interesting as archive aesthetic assemblies and for his use of music, on the whole, though of course, there are many things he does say that i think are interesting, and agree with, but he takes so many cheap shots, often that arent followed through, or arent really investigated thoroughly beyond their immediate worth as provocative 'ooooh!' sensations, that make me worry a bit about all the people who put him on a pedestal.

the funniest part of the whole night (for me anyway, most people were howling each time gaddaffi appeared behind one of curtis' voiceovers) was when someone asked him about his use of music, and he, not without appearing a little pleased with himself, while at the same time trying to contain his enthusiasm, said 'i think burial is a genius!', sort of as if he was admitting some uncommon view that no one else has considered, and people (well, okay, not the whole audience, but a significant handful) started clapping in agreement.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
I note that all these comments are endorsing my historic dismissal of Curtis dating back to the ludicrous 'Power of Nighmares' which I eviscerated on an bad-tempered thread back in the day.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I note that all these comments are endorsing my historic dismissal of Curtis dating back to the ludicrous 'Power of Nighmares' which I eviscerated on an bad-tempered thread back in the day.
First Fry and now Curtis - any other middlebrow sacred cows you wanna go full "I HATED HIM FIRST!" on?

You're not keen on Will Self either, if memory serves.
 

you

Well-known member
I do feel that Curtis' much sniggered at Hypernormalisation seems more relevant and less fanciful now post-Trump... his whole Surkov/Chaos shtick doesn't feel like quite the narrative liberty it was taken to be back in 2016. There, I said it.
 
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baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
First Fry and now Curtis - any other middlebrow sacred cows you wanna go full "I HATED HIM FIRST!" on?

You're not keen on Will Self either, if memory serves.
Let's hope not - Will Self is a different class from those two, as much as his novels are bizarrely unreadable. Excellent speaker - clear and usually right, shows contempt towards the right people etc.
 
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luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I do feel that Curtis' much sniggered at Hypernormalisation seems more relevant and less fanciful now post-Trump... his whole Surkov/Chaos shtick doesn't feel like quite the narrative liberty it was taken to be back in 2016. There, I said it.
cCurtis is great
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
First Fry and now Curtis - any other middlebrow sacred cows you wanna go full "I HATED HIM FIRST!" on?

You're not keen on Will Self either, if memory serves.
Craner was actually eviscerated on that thread.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
One of craners claims was that the links between Sadam Hussein and al quaeda were "massive, comprehensive incontrovertible"
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I quite like Curtis's old BBC blog, I think his ideas are easier to swallow in that less intense, less overwhelming format. Plus the archival footage he dug up was amazing.
 

catalog

Well-known member
he deserves a round of applause for producing the richard billingham film about his family ('fishtank'). total classic right there, another great one to fall asleep to
 
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