Whenever I despair, or more likely, when I become annoyed, because of the lack of criticality our mass media exhibit, I watch something in French or in Spanish. Then, I come out feeling better about criticality and attentiveness in America. In brief, others routinely do worse.
I have written before about this French documentary series I watch often. It’s called “Thalassa.” It’s about the ocean, in a broad sense, including tropical islands, exotic and ingenuous fishing techniques, and beautiful corners of Europe, even of France, that few know about. Thalassa is served in installments that are two hours long and it’s been on about forty weeks each year since 1975 (1975, not a typo). Both the facts of the long duration of each show and of the long duration of the series itself are evidence of success, I think. I mean success by French television standards. As usual, I want to protect myself against the accusation of taking milk from kindergartners.
Well, the last time, I watched Thalassa, the series, it included twin reports about China-Taiwan and mainland China, the latter technically know as the People’s Republic of China. To explain the split between the two Chinas, the narrative declared that the Chinese Communists had “won the election” in 1949. Correspondingly, according to Thalassa, the official name of mainland China is “The Popular Republic of China.” Yep, I guess it’s popular enough! If you don’t find it popular and you say so, you end up in jail.
The writer of the narrative and the narrator are both idiots. This could happen here, though I think it’s less likely. What I believe is that a successful, important American television series would be edited by responsible people with an ounce of general knowledge, that it would not be left to children or to high-school dropouts. (Here, I am exercising the benefit of doubt. If one checked the French narrators’ and writers ‘ credentials, it might well turn out that they are all graduates of he best French institutes of higher education.) Continue reading