Adam talks to British journalist and documentary maker Adam Curtis, whose films include The Power Of Nightmares, The Century Of The Self, Bitter Lake and HyperNormalisation.
Thanks to Nicky Waltham and her editor friend Doug Bryson for helping me put this episode together along with my regular production support pal Seamus Murphy Mitchel.
Visit adam-buxton.co.uk for related links.
Music and jingles by Adam Buxton
Hi Adam, long time listener-lurker who had to sign up to say thanks for this episode. For me, Adam Curtis has always hovered somewhere between a kindly, slightly mysterious uncle who knows everything, and the character actor in the Avengers who lures Peel and Steed to his giant mad-mansion where he's plotting to weaponise the common cold. (On the basis of this podcast, I'm imagining him in the second setting.) Lots of things I'd disagree with in his analysis, but there was one point of fact (i.e., not-fact) that really bugged me. It's not correct for Mr C to suggest that civil rights took off in the U.S. in the 1960s because white liberals were brave enough to travel to the South and sit down/stand up beside African American protesters. The solidarity and cooperation of white students (especially in the 'Freedom Summer' of 1964) played a role in pushing forward the agenda, but it's maddening to hear the story of civil rights dramatised in a way that identifies white solidarity/validation as a decisive factor. A ton of African Americans risked serious physical harm/death for more than a decade before the white kids came on board; and the African American drivers of change stayed at the table long after white students had gone home. If anything, white liberals and their hang-ups about race were more of a drag on racial justice than a force for positive change -- something Martin Luther King Jr. recognised in his infamous observation that the "white moderate" was a bigger threat to equality than the Ku Klux Klan.
I'm sorry to sound all heavy on you, but much of Curtis's argument about the "oh-dearism" of today's liberals depends on a romantic and historically-challenged view of liberals of yore. I fully expect to post more on this after future podcasts with Buxton-approved Thought Generals.
I'm probably in a small minority here, but I find Adam Curtis's work somewhat verbose and not very compelling. I can see a basis for some of what he says, and it's good to view everything with a questioning scepticism, but sometimes things just happen and the reasoning isn't what you might think.
Sure most of us get information via a media filter, which can skew the facts, but conspiracy theories are equally deserving of scepticism. I find Adam Curtis's work veering close to conspiracy theory.The closer you look the more you find, and your interpretation is not necessarily correct.
In Oh Dearism it's featured as part of Charlie Brookers program - think Brooker would make a great guest on the show - what do you say Professor Buckles?
Am a big fan of Adam Curtis my favourite being the Power of Nightmares which was fascinating so enjoyed the show
Congrats on the comedy award - yours and Herrings are the two I look forward to listening to in the car or while resetting rooms.
An old podcast but when you and Joe were talking about instead of a show called Skins one called Pens about the kids who behave themselves I was howling with laughter with your silly voices talking about the intro to Skins.
In case anyone was wondering I think the nine inch nails song Curtis mentions is called right where it belongs. Which side of the glass is in the lyrics.
Buckulator 5000, this Adam x 2 podcast was the toppist. And same as Mr Curtis, I don't do soshal meeja so this digital ouja is my only means of sending you my high praise.
I concur 100% with Curtis' take and could almost have written his script. It was the antidote to the technocratic bien pensant guff spouted by Eno 9who's records have) in your earlier podcast. I wonder if that might be why Curtis was so bristly at the mention of Eno here?
Lastly, your previous podcast with Mark Maron gave me an out of body experience. It's so odd to hear you both using my name, in a music discussion about the late jazz legend.
Cheers for all the chuckles Buckles!
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