The title byline of Curtis’ Youtube documentary channel is: “Power and the way it works in society. Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy and Political History” I’m sure these films are already being used in academic settings, or at least I hope that they are. Funnily enough, when I step away from a film like HyperNormalisation, my concern with Curtis’ thesis about how we got here is similar to that of the average white person sitting front row at a Ta-Nehisi Coates lecture.
Where’s the hope?
According to Curtis, this is where our undoing as a society lies; In the need for a hope which reflects a utopia whose structure inevitably circles back repeatedly to the need to be lied to and distracted from the brutal truths involved in maintaining systems that insulate and feed our illusions to keep us puppets. If that sounded like a long complicated run on sentence that didn’t make any sense, trust me, I get it. The working premise of Curtis’ documentary is that people who have risen to power as well as those who have sought to overturn or push back against power, still have no model for a society that functions in a true “democracy.” Grimmer still, is that in America, the whole idea of Democracy, free speech, freedom of religions and the whole idea of striving towards any idea of “freedom” was usurped by banks and corporations years ago.
Curtis came to perceive a mindset among ruling élites of all stripes—among the American political establishment, in Russia and China, at think tanks and the European Union, international banks and tech companies—that was an attempt to manage the world without transforming it.
Our world, or the world we believe we’re living in, is very carefully managed by corporations, social media and marketing consultants.
If you work from home like I do, you’ve also been shopping more often than you ever have. There’s no way around it. You may not have purchased anything but you’re thinking about it. And that’s enough. Because it means your attention has been bought by something which has successfully deflected your attention from some painful realities. And it’s the easiest form of control ever. Not only that, but we are all for the most part, unpaid sales people. In fact, as long as we use the internet or any social media platform, most of us work for corporations with zero compensation. It’s diabolical.
I’m almost scared to go on. Which brings me to the other most obvious tool of power as highlighted in Curtis’ documentary.
Fear: the motivator of all the violent, traumatic, horrific and systematically carried out destruction and control of humankind by humankind.
If you like that, you’ll love this is a line we’re all familiar with in America, even if we’re not fully conscious of it. It didn’t always exist though. Can you remember when this term came into being? It’s important to understand that none of it is random or incidental. I think I started to remember this line emerging in commercials or in print ads sometime in the 90s. This was also when I started to notice that the management and productions of certain things stopped being marketed or even made based solely on quality and effectiveness. Slowly the selling of a useful product became more about creating the illusion of choice by making more of the same in different colors, flavors and iterations and appealing to the base narcissism that exists in us all on multiple spectrums. Shortly after the advent of computers, early versions of the what would become the internet had already begun to collect data from massed of users and it would appear that all many of us wanted and still want is more of the same thing.
If you like that, you’ll love this, is a marketing term that attempts to keep the consumer in a constant cycle of wanting and gratification that is never fulfilled enough to stop and investigate what it happening outside of it all. Because it’s too scary and overwhelming to deal with the true cost of our precariously maintained forms of comfort and delusion. Maintaining a simple solution to the complex problem of human corruption and the hell that it continues to produce in our world daily has become the sole purpose of the powers that be.
Management and maintenance disguised as progress. The working assumption, is that this is all we can realistically hope for.