Click play on the video below and be transported back to a time when in order to be regarded as a great thinker you had to be able to go on the BBC, sit in a comfortable chair and explain a lifetime's philosophical enquiry in five minutes, and so simply that even the great, British public could understand what you were going on about.

The amazing thing is that there were philosophers who could. The even more amazing thing is that the great, British public would sit and watch them and then talk about what had been said the next day at work.

I must admit a tear came to my eye watching this last night. Imagine a world where the word "liberal" wasn't just employed as a term of derision. Imagine a world where idealism was idolised not dismissed as a human weakness. Imagine a world where you were allowed to imagine, not just in order to make money, but for the pure pleasure of doing so.


GENIUS — 4 Comments

  1. There’s a reason people call the first 20-30 years after WW2 the “Golden Age of Television”. It was a time when the networks didn’t know what would really work, so they were open to trying different things: live drama, intellectual programs, appeals to many interests, etc. Now, it’s all about mass-market selling of the advertisers’ products to the masses, so we have mass-market entertainment, that is, to the lowest common denominator, and also the cheapest stuff they can throw on the air to fill their schedules: reality shows. I am 70, old enough to remember the live dramas and experimental shows from the 1950s and 60s, and the better written, intelligent shows that were more common then. There are still good shows, but many of them are on cable, as the commercial networks are losing viewers and cheapening their products to hold down costs. I suspect there is no real answer for the lack of quality in so much television fare as long as the current advertiser-supported model of TV exists in the US. Sic transit gloria mundi…

  2. This is a good clip, MP. Thanks for posting it.

    Strangelove is right — at least in the US, commercial TV can be pretty awful, but there are still some worthwhile things, and not just on Public Television. One of the probably-unforeseen-but-fortuitous consequences of the fact that most of us in the US have access to a gazillion channels, broadcast and cable, is that very few programs get huge ratings like the networks used to, and thus where expectations are lower, there’s more opportunity for quality “niche” programming to find a place.

    Or, as God said to Lord Russell when he died, “Surprise! (But I must say you really were quite right about a whole lot of stuff.)” “Love is wise; hatred is foolish.” “We have to learn to put up with the fact that some people may say things we don’t like.” Quite right indeed.

  3. In the U.S. even the news programs are there only to lure people to view the commercials. The content is irrelevant. It’s entirely about the commercials.

    How prescient: the wv is “bureact” – I do not look at the wv until I’ve finished my comment, by the way.