Can’t Get You Out of My Head
Part 1 Bloodshed on Wolf Mountain
Directed by Adam Curtis (2021)
Adam Curtis has come out with another great documentary series this year, the first to be widely promoted since his 2016 series Hypernormalisation. The theme of this series is understanding why our democratically elected representatives have handed governance over to unelected financial, banking and managerial technocrats (eg the EU, UN, World Economic Forum) instead of representing us.
I confess to being somewhat addicted to Curtis’s work. The erasure of history has been essential to the end of the democratic process, and his work is full of hidden history that people aren’t taught in school.
In Part 1, Curtis outlines the gradual rise in hyperindividualism that happened both in the West and the Communist East following World War II. He begins by examining overall trends in public attitudes in post-war Britain facing the collapse of her empire, in Communist China in the prelude to the 1966 Cultural Revolution and In the US during the “white flight” to the suburbs.
The segments on Britain mainly focus on the political career of Michael X, born in Trinidad as Michael de Freitas, a black revolutionary and civil rights activist in 1960s London. The evolution of his political career continues in Parts 2 and 3.
The segments on China focus entirely on Jiang Qing, a movie actress and the fourth wife of Mao Zedong. Branded mentally ill and confined to virtual house arrest for many years (on the orders of Joseph Stalin), she was recalled to power in 1959 when Mao’s enemies sought to depose him. She assisted him in launching the 1966 Cultural Revolution that effectively disposed of them.*
The sections on evolution of US culture focus on the social isolation, anxiety and mild paranoia white Americans experienced when they abandoned the close knit communities of US cities.
For me the most interesting segment of Part 1 concerns a friend who served in the Marines with Lee Harvey Oswald named Kerry Thornley. Thornley, with friend Greg Hill, created the Discordian religion and Operation Mind Fuck. Their main work was to parody the upsurge in conspiracy theories by planting the fabricated conspiracy in numerous media outlets that the Bavarian Illuminati was behind the major political assassinations of the 1960s (among other false conspiracy theories).
*The Cultural Revolution was a violent sociopolitical purge in China lasting from 1966 until 1976. It was launched by Mao and his wife Jiang Qing to encourage students and working people to rise up and violently attack any teachers, bosses and party leaders suspected of abusing their authority. See An American in Mao’s Cultural Revolution