I've been binging on Curtis this week. Just watched Century of the Self and have started The Trap. My wife and girls are out of town for the week, so I'm able to indulge in this material on the big TV.
Seems to me there's something necessarily disjointed about these films (though HyperNormalization especially so), since they are about disjuncture. How can you tell a story where everything connects nicely, where the subject is the cognitive dissonance of modern life?
It's interesting, in Century of the Self, Curtis ties the collapse of representational democracy, as I think you put it well, @patanswer, to the rise of modern advertising and propaganda, which he attributes (proximate cause) especially to the influence of one Edward Bernays, father of modern public relations, who also happened to be Sigmund Freud's nephew. Fascinating story—and a more orderly presentation, too—about how psychoanalysis, combined with modern media, has been used for mass control by cultivating the notion of the unique self and playing strictly to its fears and desires.
You recommended the book to me, Mr. @Mark_Jabbour, The Culture of Narcissism, by Christopher Lasch. I've only thumbed through it, but I would think you'd find a lot to agree with in Curtis' argument if you're sympathetic to Lasch's. Nevermind its artistic merit.
What I'm getting so far is that if you look at Curtis' various movies, it's a melange of psychoanalysis, game theory, computer networking, and virtualization that is being used (by competing corporations and governments) to manipulate populations by useful illusions and sheer mindfuckery. This is not news, obviously, but I think what's interesting is the genealogy of the ideas and techniques in play, which Curtis teases out in his way.
But his point is, as I understand it, that if you believe that the world is will to power and human beings are mostly unconscious drives, then democracy, in your world, is not really possible. In his films, Curtis examines the consequences of this belief.
I'd concur with this point:
But Mark, I think your attitude is, if you can't beat em, join em, right? What are the ultimate causes?