019: Fake Plastic World


For this episode of The Future Is A Mixtape, Jesse & Matt explore the paranoid dread and narcotic pull of Adam Curtis’ most recent documentary of political-noir, HyperNormalisation. In 2 hours and 40 minutes, it charts the globe-hopping travails of terrorists, bankers, politicians and America’s digital aristocracy--all of whom use humanity as pawns by promising simple stories to explain complex problems which can’t be solved with “perception management” and pastel fairy-tales about “good vs. evil.” Considered by many to be the most talented and remarkable documentarian in Britain, Adam Curtis has weaved suspicion and suspense into a BBC career that stretches from 40 Minutes: Bombay Motel in 1987 (which explores the have and have-nots of the city) to his most recent film HyperNormalisation in 2016 (which explores how an entirely Russian condition has now passed into the wider-world). Curtis’ documentary was released less than a month prior to the mind-gagging upset of Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, and the film increasingly speaks to a disenchanted, rat-fucked future of no-returns. Jesse & Matt will discuss what makes this “dank” film so compelling and deeply-felt, as well as what makes it, almost equally so, such an evasive work of art.

Mentioned In This Episode:

The Original Trailer for Adam Curtis’ HyperNormalisation

Vice: Watch Adam Curtis’ Short Film,  Living in an Unreal World, Which Is Effectively a Non-Traditional Film Teaser for His Recently Released Documentary

Watch Adam Curtis’ HyperNormalisation at This Youtube Link (While It Lasts)

Adam Curtis’ Official Blog on BBC

Adam Curtis’ Biography on Wikipedia

Internet Movie Database (IMDB) on Adam Curtis

Radiohead Does Some ‘Cosmic Shit’ with Supercollider--A Tribute to LHC

NPR: “It’s Locals vs. ‘PIBS’ at the Sundance Film Festival”

Bondage Power Structures: From BDSM and Spanking to Latex and Body Odors

The Sun: “Japan’s Weird Sex Hotels -- Offering Everything From Prison Cell Bondage to Vibrator Vending Machines”

A Satire of Adam Curtis, The Documentarian: The Loving Trap

The Hydra-Headed Tropes of Adam Curtis Films: Chris Applegate on Twitter: “Forget ‘HypernorNormalisation,’ Here’s Adam Curtis Bingo!

Why Is It That Matthew & Jesse Lack Real Whuffie: Tara Hunt’s “The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business”

About New York’s Most Legendary New Wave Band: The Talking Heads

James Verini in The New Yorker: “The Talking Heads Song That Explains Talking Heads”

Christian Marclay’s The Clock at The LACMA Museum

An Excerpt from Marclay’s Film-Collage, The Clock

Wired Magazine: “Film Clips of Clocks Round Out 24-Hour Video”

A Youtube Excerpt of BBC News Coverage of Christian Marclay’s The Clock

Ken Hollings in BBC News: “What Is the Cut-Up Method?”

William Burrough’s “The Cut Up Method” in Leroi Jones’ (Baraka) The Moderns: An Anthology of New Writing in America

William Burrough’s The Naked Lunch

A YouTube Clip of Taking Down the Financial District: The Ending of Fight Club

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club: A Novel

Little Known X-Files’ Spin-Off Pilot Episode of The Lone Gunmen Eerily Imagined A Plane Crashing Into The World Trade Center

A Portrait by Gerard Malanga: “William Burroughs Takes Aim at NY's Twin Towers, from Brooklyn Bridge, 1978”

Adam Curtis Documentaries Currently Found on YouTube:

Pandora's Box (1992)

The Living Dead (1995)

Modern Times: The Way of All Flesh (1997)

The Mayfair Set (1999)

His Finest Achievement & Magnum Opus: The Century of the Self (2002)

The Power of Nightmares (2004)

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007)

All Watched Over By the Machines of Loving Grace (2011)

Bitter Lake (2015)

HyperNormalisation (2016)

Talkhouse: “Tim Heidecker [from Tim & Eric Show] with Adam Curtis”

Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine

Matthew Snyder’s Syllabus & Course Theme for Fall of 2016: “Presidential Material”

Jim Rutenberg in The New York Times: “Can the Media Recover From This Election?”

Nate Cohn in The New York Times: “What I Got Wrong About Donald Trump”

Nate Silver in FiveThirtyEight: “Why FiveThirtyEight Gave Trump A Better Chance Than Almost Anyone Else”

People Pretended to Vote for Kennedy in Larger and Larger Numbers After His Assassination: Peter Foster in The Telegraph: “JFK: The Myth That Will Never Die”

YouTube Clip of Alex Jones Getting Coffee Thrown onto to Him While in Seattle

Fredrick Jameson on the True Nature of Conspiracy Theories in His Famous Work, Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1992):

The technology of contemporary society is therefore mesmerizing and fascinating not so much in its own right but because it seems to offer some privileged representational shorthand for grasping a network of power and control even more difficult for our minds and imaginations to grasp: the whole new de-centered global network of the third stage of capital itself. This is a figural process presently best observed in a whole mode of contemporary entertainment literature -- one is tempted to characterize it as "high-tech paranoia" -- in which the circuits and networks of some putative global computer hookup are narratively mobilized by labyrinthine conspiracies of autonomous but deadly interlocking and competing information agencies in a complexity often beyond the capacity of the normal reading mind. Yet conspiracy theory (and its garish narrative manifestations) must be seen as a degraded attempt -- through the figuration of advanced technology -- to think the impossible totality of the contemporary world system. It is in terms of that enormous and threatening, yet only dimly perceivable, other reality of economic and social institutions that, in my opinion, the postmodern sublime can alone be theorized.

Perception Management: A Working Definition

Adam Curtis’ Remarkable Analysis of Neoconservatives and The Taliban in The Power of Nightmares (2004)

The BBC Director’s Finest Achievement & Magnum Opus: The Century of the Self (2002)

Edward Bernays’ Propaganda (Published in 1928)

Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool (1968; Released on Criterion in 2013)

Jaime Weinman in Maclean’s: “The Problem With ‘Problematic’”

Gore Vidal: A Working Biography

James Kirkchick in The Daily Beast: “Why Did Gore Vidal and William Buckley Hate Each Other?”

Morgan Neville’s Best of Enemies: Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley

Christopher Hitchens: A Working Biography

The Future Is A Mixtape: Episode 004: “TDS: Terminal Dystopia Syndrome”

Dave Eggers’ Half-Burnt Satire & Confused Omelette: The Circle

Strange Horizons: Estrangement and Cognition by Darko Suvin

Takayuki Tatsumi in Science Fiction Studies (V:11; PII): “An Interview with Darko Suvin”

David Graeber in The Guardian: “Why Is the World Ignoring the Revolutionary Kurds in Syria?”

David Graeber on Real Media: “Syria, Anarchism and Visiting Rojava”

InfoWar: “David Graeber: From Occupy Wall Street to the Revolution in Rojava”

ROAR Magazine: “Murray Bookchin and The Kurdish Resistance”

About PissPigGranddad in Rolling Stone: “American Anarchists Join YPG in Syria Fighting ISIS, Islamic State”

The New York Magazine: “The DirtBag Left’s Man in Syria: PissPigGranddad Is Coming Home from Syria”

IMPORTANT CORRECTION: Matt’s claim that HyperNormalisation--the term--came from two Russian brothers, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who were both Science Fiction authors, is DEAD wrong. The term "hypernormalisation" is taken from Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation.

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: A Working Biography

Guy Debord’s Society Of The Spectacle (The Original 1967 Book)

Guy Debord’s Society Of The Spectacle (The 1973 Film on YouTube)

Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry

Mike Davis’ “Not a Revolution--Yet” {His Brilliant Multi-Causal Analysis of Why Donald Trump Won the Election}

Jodi Dean on Why Facebook Crushes Complexity of Thought: “Communicative Capitalism and the Challenges of the Left”

China Mieville in Socialist Review: “Tolkien - Middle Earth Meets Middle England”

Thought Catalog: “14 Unexpected Ways Your Relationship With Your Parents Changes As You Get Older”

The Atlantic: “12 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids”

Tim Lott in the Guardian About Children’s Ruthless Engagement with Irony: “Are Sarcasm and Irony Good for Family Life?”

George W. Bush Telling Americans to Still Go Shopping with Their Families and Travel to Disneyland

Ranker: “11 Ways Dying in Real Life Is Way Different Than Movie Deaths”

David Graeber in Baffler: “Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit”

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days

Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven & Twelve

John A. Farrell in The New York Times: “Nixon’s Vietnam Treachery”

Peter Baker in The New York Times: “Nixon Tried to Spoil Johnson’s Vietnam Peace Talks in ‘68, Notes Show”

Brick Underground: “Stop Blaming the Hipsters: Here’s How Gentrification Really Happens (And What You Can Do About It)

Matt Le Blanc’s Episodes

Chris Renaud’s Dr. Suess’ The Lorax (The Fucking Godawful Movie-Travesty)

Dr. Suess’ Brilliant Book on Ecology and Capitalism: The Lorax

A Historical Guide in How Women’s Rights Have Been Used in War as Seen in Katharine Viner’s Essay in The Guardian: “Feminism as Imperialism”

Zillah Eisenstein in Al Jazeera: “‘Leaning In’ in Iraq: Women’s Rights and War?”

David Cortright in The Nation: “A Hard Look at Iraq Sanctions”

Ricky Gervais’ Extras: The Complete Series (On DVD)

Annie Jacobsen’s Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base

Salon Magazine: “The Area 51 Truthers Were Right”

Christopher Guest’s For Your Consideration

How Adam Curtis Misunderstands Arab Spring, Occupy and Weirdly Ignores Bernie Sanders in Jonathan Cook’s Essay in Counterpunch: “Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions”

The Los Angeles Review of Books: Mike Davis on Occupy Wall Street in His Essay: “No More Bubblegum”

Whuffie: A Working Definition

Cory Doctorow Excoriates His Naive Idea of Whuffie in His Essay in Locus Magazine: “Wealth Inequality Is Even Worse in Reputation Economies”

Dear Adam Curtis: Here’s Some Actual, Real-Life Examples of Organizations Offering Alternatives to Our TDS World:

The Next System Project

Transition Town: United States


Open Source Ecology

Democracy at Work

Community Land Trust Network

Democratic Socialists of America

Corbyn’s Labour Party

Momentum: A New Kind of Politics

The World Transformed

Novara Media

Marshal Ganz’s Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement

Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

John Lynch in Business Insider: “The Average American Watches So Much TV It’s Almost a Full-Time Job”

Kathryn Cramer in The Huffington Post: “Enough With Dystopia: It’s Time For Sci-Fi Writers To Start Imagining Better Futures”

Jeet Heer in New Republic: “The New Utopians” (an Overview of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Works & Other Authors Using SF to Imagine a Better Future)

Radiohead’s Music Video for “Daydreaming”

The New Yorker: “The Science of Daydreams”

The Australian: “The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming”

Anna Moore in The Guardian Explores Our Twenty-Year Relationship with Prozac: “Eternal Sunshine”

Larry O’Connor in The Washington Free Beacon: “Ending the Starbucks ‘Pay-It-Forward’ Cult, for America”

Mimi Leder’s Pay It Forward (Featuring Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey)

The Economist on BlackRock’s Aladdin: “The Monolith and the Markets”

Foundational Articles & Interviews With Adam Curtis:

The Wire Magazine: “An Interview With Adam Curtis”

Vice: “Jon Ronson in Conversation with Adam Curtis”

Paste Magazine: “Adam Curtis Knows The Score: A List of Five Films”