07 March 2007

The Century of the Self

Falling once again into the ostensive trap of blogging, I would like to point people to an excellent BBC4 documentary up on Google Video. Entitled The Century of the Self it chronicles the influence of Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays on the field of public relations. The man was amazing. Almost singlehandedly he convinced American women to start smoking. The video is in four parts, just follow the links: 1 2 3 4.

We've watched the first part so far, and I was particularly struck by the reengineering of the American worker as the American consumer. There is something ennobling about work, but after 9/11 we weren't told to work hard, and save money, and pay off our debts. We were told to go spend money, for the good of the nation. If anyone has a high-schooler studying American History, or teaches high-schoolers (Mom), this would be an excellent supplement. This is the kind of information that is sadly missing from public education. I mean, when was I going to be told that Goebbels thought that FDR was nifty?

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