You Don’t Really Want All This Stuff: The Century Of The Self

The Century Of The Self is a fascinating BBC documentary available on YouTube that gives a history of public relations (basically Nazi propaganda techniques with a more friendly name) and its far-reaching implications in our society and the world. The documentary features Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who pioneered this dubious practice.

Bernays took the psychological discoveries of his uncle, mainly those of how humans have a sense of need or emptiness or a need for an unknown fulfillment, and have them correlate the idea that those can be fulfilled with consumer goods. The concept was so successful it went on to be used by politicians, corporations, the military, and pretty much anyone in power. The concept of planned obsolescence is tied to this, as manufacturers needed a way to get people to buy more stuff, and replace the stuff they had. The magic wand was supplied by Bernays, whose effective techniques make consumers feel like they are lacking if they do not have the latest and greatest. Sound familiar?

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Office Extras

The U.S. version of The Office is going to end with the next season (season 9), and I’m glad to hear this.

The Office has been abysmal since Steve Carell left the show, and wasn’t all that great for his last 2 seasons. Season 8 has been an abomination. The characters are no longer anything like the wonderful personas that were established early on in the series. They’ve turned into poor caricatures of their former selves, acting out of character. The humor has become ham-fisted. The deterioration of the show curiously parallels the overall storyline of the excellent “Extras“.

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Breaking Bad: Season 5 Premiere

I’m a huge fan of AMC’s Breaking Bad. I consider it to be one of if not the best television series ever produced. I finally watched the first episode of season 5 (which is also the final season) and was extremely satisfied. The writing, acting and story are all still top-notch and it reminded me of why I love the show so much.

I recently re-watched The Sopranos, and while also an excellent television series, the story fades out as the seasons go on. Not so with Breaking Bad, it gets better and better as it progresses. And I’m glad they’ve decided to end it. Too many television shows try to wring out every last drop from a concept, and usually sour the series by doing so (I’m looking squarely at you, post-season 7 of The Office).

Can’t wait to see how this season plays out. And if you’ve never seen the show, you can watch all four previous seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix Instant.

House

I had no idea that House was ending this season. Despite the last few seasons which seemed a bit repetitive at times, the writing was still top-notch even when the plots got predictable or outlandish — even for House standards.

All said, it was a great show that I got into late, but glad I gave it a chance. They went out on a strong enough note, and the series finale seemed appropriate for the show and its characters. Kudos to everyone involved in the production for bring something fresh to the TV screen.

Now to gear up for the last season of Breaking Bad, another fine example of terrific television.