By Elizabeth Prata
Summer is time for reading and watching TV. At least, that is what I do more of during the hot months and the time off from school. I write more, I study more, but I also enjoy more media in these off hours of weeks. Unabashedly.
However, the problem is finding GOOD things to watch. Also edifying, non-problematic (i,.e. not grossly immoral). I found a few items I’d like to share.
Blue Miracle is a feel-good clean movie based on a true story. Set in Baja Mexico and starring Dennis Quaid, the story line is that a down and almost our orphanage owner is facing financial ruin, while at the same time an almost hopeless washed up alcoholic former tournament winning fishing captain is on his last legs. Together can they win the big prize? On Netflix.
The Food that America Built is a multi-part documentary about the food titans of the Industrial Age. We often hear about the Railroad Barons and the Coal Barons and the Steel Barons and the Oil Barons like Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. They were pejoratively called “Robber Barons.” They were men who took advantage of the times and the place to accumulate mass wealth during he Gilded Age, AKA the Industrial Revolution. They were capitalists who foresaw the future and applied a genius idea, and came up roses.
Well, that happened with Food Barons too! When the Industrial Revolution happened, people moved to cities to work in factories, figuring it was better than working for a farmer sharecropping or something. The problem was, there are no farms in the city! Doh! There was no refrigeration and no food supply chain imports by train, because railroads were just being built. People had no access to good food. So some capitalist food geniuses came along and invented corn flakes and grape nuts and snickers bars and Hershey’s milk chocolate and ketchup and frozen foods. It is a REALLY interesting show. On Hulu.
By coincidence I was also watching an award winning documentary on Youtube called The Century of the Self. I’d been noticing as I was reading through Matthew in my Bible study, how often the Pharisees were able to swing a crowd. They fomented riots, they persuaded masses, they manipulated minds. I was thinking about how people can and do that. But how? I googled and found this seminal documentary that explains exactly how they do. It’s fascinating, and covers the rise of the first Public Relations propagandist, Edward Bernays (Freud’s nephew). His methods combined with new methods of getting American’s to try new ideas in food (like newfangled idea, “breakfast”) evoked so many similarities even though they are two distinct documentaries. Like wine and chees, the two documentaries make a good pairing.
The Century of the Self documentary is kind of chilling though. It explores the idea Freud had that underneath it all people are awful, they are bad. Christians know people are implicitly bad due to our sin nature, Romans 3 explains that fact that we are all sinners. Freud detected that with his secular mind, which is correct, but thought he could solve it with Psychoanalysis, which is incorrect.
Influenced by Freud, journalist Walter Lippman had said “The mechanism of the mass mind is unrationality, animality.” He called us “The Bewildered Herd”. Freud thought that the animalistic behavior of man tends to emerge too easily when he is in a crowd. He said that unconscious forces in human beings could be triggered when they were in crowds. This also is true. It’s why God said to the people to disperse after the Flood, scatter and fill the earth. People do have a mob mentality and our animalistic tendencies come out when we are en masse. Lippman reported on it, Freud wanted to solve it, Bernays cashed in on it. He was practically solely responsible for turning America from workers to consumers, the notion of democracy into a palliative. All in all, fascinating documentary. How Bernays did it and how easily, was the chilling part. I had to stop and check to see if I was brainwashed.
I watched The Bling Ring, film about a set of bored wealthy kids who broke and entered into celebrities’ homes and stole stuff. It’s based on a real ring of thieves really called The Bling Ring. I knew better, since the movie was by Sofia Coppola, who to my mind has not made a good movie yet, but I watched it. I fast forwarded, abandoned it, and then looked up the real story of the kids who were eventually aught and arrested for their millions in thefts.
Fatherhood with Keith Hart and Alfre Woodard is based on a true story of a father who lost his wife just after she gave birth to their daughter, and him coming to grips with single fatherhood. It was a good family movie and only liberal slightly at the very end. On Netflix.
On Amazon Prime, I watched The Duchess of Duke Street. I remember this on Masterpiece Theater in the 1970s. After Upstairs Downstairs ended we were all hungry for another Edwardian series, and Hawkesworth produced again. This series, with two seasons, takes us on the real life journey of Rosa Lewis (in the series named Louisa Leyton Trotter) a Cockney maid who rose to become proprietress of the most posh hotel in London and the finest cook in England- and drew the attention of King Edward VII, with whom she is rumored to have had an affair in the 1890s. I liked it the first few episodes, but the main character grated on me as we went on. I don’t know what kind of personality she had in real life but the portrayal of this woman was such that I grew to dislike her more and more. She was ungracious, abrupt, and rude. I’m sure the TV show exaggerated that, since one cannot be in a service industry and remain open for long and treat people rudely, or maybe she was just that way with her servants and staff. I did love the waiter Merriman, a super actor named John Welsh, portraying her head waiter with sly humor.
I’m fascinated by her story, her cuisine was startlingly different than the usual heavy fare served at that time. She was a genius in the kitchen and apparently an amazing business woman, her hotel stayed open until the 1960s. One of her clients was Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston’s mom). The rising French cooking star Escoffier called her “The Queen of Cooks.” You might enjoy the period drama, I did like it especially the beginning, and maybe I’m too sensitive.
I have to throw back to previous times to find clean programs, so I’ve been watching some old, OLD shows, lol. Marcus Welby, MD, on Youtube, a show that was on TV from 1969-1976. I also enjoy Kraft Suspense Theater on Youtube too, one hour dramas featuring up-and-coming stars.
Godzilla vs. Kong was a fun movie, very well done. It had heart, great special effects, enough backstory but didn’t bog down the newbie tot he Monsterverse, and had a great ending. I actually paid for that one on Amazon Prime.