The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis

Part 1-Happiness Machines:
Part one documents the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays who invented ‘Public Relations’ in the 1920s, being the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.

Part 2-The Engineering of Consent:
Part two explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud’s ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses. Politicians and planners came to believe Freud’s underlying premise that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany, and in response to this, they set out to find ways to control the masses so as to manage the ‘hidden enemy’ within the human mind.

Part 3-There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed:
In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas, which lead to the creation of a new political movement that sought to create ‘new people’, free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people’s minds by business and politics. This episode shows how this idea rapidly developed in America through “self-help movements”, into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.

Part 4-Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering:
This episode explains how politicians turned to the same techniques used by business in order to read and manipulate the inner desires of the masses. Both New Labor with Tony Blair and the Democrats led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group which had been invented by psychoanalysts in order to regain power. Both set out to mold their policies to manipulate people’s innermost desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learned to do with products.

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About workequalsworthequalsinnocence

Working with animation, video, painting, drawing, installation and intervention, my interdisciplinary practice examines the complex position of culture within neoliberal capitalism and critiques modes of social control, while exploring the potential for art to function as a site of resistance. I am specifically interested in how modes of violence are perpetuated collectively through popular narratives, concepts of justice and denial of accountability. Frequently engaging with communities and collectives, my practice eschews individual authorship in favour of collaboration. This has included an ongoing commitment to working with women and youth who are in conflict with the law, through the creation of art projects in prisons as well as at numerous centres that support marginalized people. In 2008, I completed an MFA through the Public Art and New Artistic Strategies program at the Bauhaus University (Weimar, Germany). My work has been shown nationally and internationally in festivals, screenings, artist run centres and museums. I am currently employed as an Assistant Professor of Studio Arts at Concordia University. http://jessicamaccormackrmack.tumblr.com/
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