We're only making plans for normal


Adam Curtis is the king of the cut-and-paste social commentary documentary, and this short is very much in that style (if not quite the Curtis standard).


Offering up a point of view on moving beyond lockdown, it challenges the desire for a return to normality and questions whether we even know what 'normal' is any more. Particularly those who have grown up in the truly abnormal post-millennium period, moving from the Twin Towers and all that followed, to the 2008 crash, Brexit (if in the UK) and now Covid in rapid succession, all against a backdrop of climate change, growing economic inequality and information overload. Topped off more recently with the shocking events of George Floyd's death, and the Black Lives Matter mobilisation that has followed on.


What's interesting is that we've arguably been here before. I was a teen in the late 70s and early 80s, and there are clear parallels: a period of political and economic turmoil, systemic, public racism and counter-protests, the everyday threat of terrorism on the streets, state-led dismantling of our public assets and industrial base, massive public health challenges (AIDS), and imminent nuclear destruction of course. But despite this, and maybe due to the pre-internet/fake news factor, some level of certainty and (comfortably naive) distance was retained in the population at large (I'm not saying this was a good thing by the way, as far as social justice issues, just the way it was when information was much harder to come by). And a hope that we could and would change things for the better (mutual assured destruction aside).


It didn't feel like everything was happening. To everyone. At the same time. With all the conflicting arguments why/not. And the sense of hopelessness this brings. The constant cognitive dissonance and daily paradox were missing. There were issues yes, significant ones for some people, but back then things also seemed simpler, more understandable; more black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. At least to this teenager. You knew what you were fighting for, and could see solutions. Normal was, to a degree, worth saving. Even the missiles were pretty clear cut and binary: tomorrow you would be alive or dead. There was none of the creeping existential dread of the unseen threat that is climate change.


Whereas today, for those who've grown up in or through what has pretended to be 'normal' since 2000, why would you want to go back to that? It's never worked for you. It sucks. Better to find a new normal. And now we have the opportunity to do that together.

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© 2020 Something's Happening by Jon Howard

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