Century of the Self

Title: Century of the Self

Director: Adam Curtis

Distributor: BBC

From the producers: The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests? Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.
“We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. […] Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”

– Paul Mazur, a Wall Street banker working for Lehman Brothers in the 1930s, quoted in Century of the Self

Available as a free download from Google Video.

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