Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Frontline Rules

Frontline, to me, has gone beyond being a great show, it's become an institution. When I hear those first few bars with their string and the brass staccati, I get goosebumps. It's the only show that I'm currently watching by myself (I watch a couple of other shows but those are with friends and more of a social event).

On the Frontline website you can watch new programs as soon as they come out as well as 61 archived episodes.

There are two episodes that demand to be watched:

Tank Man: The story of Tiananmen Square and its role in shaping the economic reform of China

I was still a child when the protest were staged and then crushed, but the memory has stuck with me and led to intense curiosity about that time in 1989. I still remember the day when I first watched this online. I was absolutely hypnotized. The events surrounding Tiananmen Square are crammed with such extremes of human behavior, it's dizzying. I have never been more proud of humanity than when I saw Chinese protesters confront the the fisrt divisions of the Chinese army not with guns, or Molotov cocktail or even anger but with reason and compassion. They turned back armed men sent their to kill them, if necessary, with nothing but their minds and hearts.
I have never been more ashamed of humanity, though, than when another division of troops, more hard-line this time, came a few days later and shot and killed people whose only crime was asking for the rights of free speech and assembly. A section where unarmed protesters were shot at but refused to retreat, resulting in volley after volley of gunfire forced me to pause the show, sit in the dark, and regroup before I could continue.
The last third of the documentary, dealing with the economic liberalization of China, while lacking in drama, is still equally compelling.

If you want to know what's happening in Burma right now, watch this episode... I imagine it the Burmese military is not behaving much differently than their Chinese counterparts.

The Persuaders: exploring the cultures of marketing and advertising in America

Not quite as weighty but still fascinating. It's worth watching just observe to Clotaire Rapaille in action. A French psychiatrist who lives in the a Versailles-like mansion located in American suburbia, he is what would happen if Dr. Strangelove climbed out of his wheelchair and walked into the boardrooms of Madison avenue.

There's also the hilariously absurd story of Song, an airline with an advertising campaign so clever that consumers could not figure out what it was Song did or sold.

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