REVIEW: Can’t Get You Out of My Head – Why NZ on Air should weep


As the NZ Government looks to plunge $50m on corporate media and woke cultural propaganda via NZ on Air, the BBC give us this extraordinary example of what intelligent public broadcasting can do with Adam Curtis’s incredible 6 part documentary, ‘Can’t get you out of my head‘.

You can watch the bootlegged versions on Youtube right now and I suggest you do that before they get taken down.

It is rare to have intelligent TV and NZ on Air should weep that they have never managed anything like this before.

The psychology of the West, our fears, our individualism, our neurosis, our loneliness, our emptiness, radical notions of change, radical ideas to overthrow the old – ‘Can’t get you out of my head’ does more to explain the why of the present than anything else I’ve witnessed.

Why can’t we have a documentary examining the impact of neoliberalism on NZ over the last 35 years?

Why must it always be on trend identity politics virtue signalling or depoliticised bullshit?

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I love STUFF’s current NZ on Air funded attempt to reprogram all men with the gelded Males of Wellington telling us how crap we are and how much we all need to change.

Jaw droopingly there’s even a female columnist explaining to men how shit they are as the introduction.

Could you imagine if that were reversed?

Could you imagine the outrage if it was men telling women how to behave?

Of course not!

Can’t Get You Out of My Head is an incredible journey of the political, philosophical and cultural currents that have led us in the West to where we are now – a dystopian cacophony of angry voices that trusts no one usurped by the individual above all.

The similarities between cancel culture and the Cultural revolution are fascinating and the old angers of white people fearful of the crimes their way of life have created turning upon them seems to prop up the entire West’s mindset since World War 2.

It is rare for TV to be able to provide oversight and insight – this is possibly one of the best explanations as to where we in the West find ourselves than anything you’ve ever read and watched.

The Guardian loved it…

Curtis’s overarching thesis is made clear at the beginning, perhaps to avoid accusations that a documentary-maker, too, can be one of the tricksters and manipulators of reality at which his creation is about to take aim. “The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make. And could just as easily make differently – David Graeber 1961-2020” runs the opening caption.

From there we move swiftly yet steadily through the dancehalls of 50s London as the empire crumbles, as an influx of immigrants arrives to what they had been told was their homeland. How the seeds of American paranoia were sown and the conditions under which they sprouted and flourished – the fertile soil of the JFK assassination, the waters of Watergate, the Valium sold as harmless until it became clear it was anything but, the growing domination by China – is laid out. The chance technological solutions to relatively small problems that led to a capacity for mass surveillance and to unimagined power being handed to banks, giving rise – effectively – to a shadow system of government.

The power dynamic, how it shifts, how it hides and how it is used to shape our world – the world in which we ordinary people must live – is Curtis’s great interest. He ranges from the literal rewriting of history by Chairman Mao’s formidable fourth wife, Jiang Qing, during the Cultural Revolution to the psychologists plumbing the depths of “the self” and trying to impose behaviours on drugged and electro-shocked subjects. He moves from the infiltration of the Black Panthers by undercover officers inciting and facilitating more violence than the movement had ever planned or been able to carry out alone, to the death of paternalism in industry and its replacement by official legislation drafted by those with hidden and vested interests. The idea that we are indeed living, as posited by various figures in the author’s landscape and (we infer from the whole) the author himself, in a world made up of strata of artifice laid down by those more or less malevolently in charge becomes increasingly persuasive.

…Compare the intelligence and brilliance of Can’t Get You Out of My Head with NZ on Air & RNZs ‘The Citizens Handbook’.


If you thought Spinoff TV was bad, sweet Jesus the barely watched Citizens Handbook with  20000 views in a year (which then halves for the second episode) is the same type of undeservedly self important Wellington wank we’ve all come to know and despise.

Now I appreciate I’m not the target market for Citizens Handbook, clearly this is for those who love the ‘talent factory’ of ZM, the Edge morning breakfast madhouse and people who think The Project is current affairs.

Don’t get me wrong, spending $400 000 for smug holier-than-thou preachy pious bullshit is totally RNZs DNA, but why can’t we get real satire and not the overproduced woke circle jerk that the Citizens Handbook descends into within seconds?

Why can’t we have Can’t Get You Out of My Head and why must we get Citizens Handbook instead?

I challenge all of you to watch all 6 eps of Can’t Get You Out of My Head and all 6 episodes of Citizens Handbook and tell me which one actually provides oversight and insight?

It is depressing as Kris Faafoi throws another $50m at woke corporate media that NZ on Air could never, will never manage to make anything half as intelligent as Can’t Get You Out of My Head. 

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  1. 55 million injected into; Public interest journalism.
    Support democracy and ensure NZs had access to trusted information.

    I have big concerns with that rhetoric.

  2. Jacinda’s mobsters seem able to throw more money at corporates and ideologues than at hungry, poor children…

    • Sadly @Johann that’s the truth. Neo-liberalism’s man-bitch TINA is a pesky bastard. I’ve often wondered whether some in Labour simply rely on the fact that the alternatives are worse. Except that there are signs that there are better alternatives emerging. If only they could get past campaigning on trivia

      • Permaculture and Powerdown are definitely worse for banks and corporations because they reduce profits and make people healthier.

        And Permaculture and Powerdown are bad for governments because they reduce the tax-take and reduce the control governments have over the populace.

        I worked out about 15 years ago why there is ZERO OFFICIAL SUPPORT for initiatives that actually work, and perpetual throwing of TAXPAYERS’ money at initiatives that don’t work and make matters worse.

  3. Besides a small handful of outlets such as TDB and the odd real mainstream journalistic piece of brilliance once in a bluemoon, NZ media is mostly rubbish.
    1 news, Newshub, 7 sharp, the AM show, the project, RNZ, New stalk ZB, Magic radio, stuff, NZ herald, the spinoff, all nasty woke trash or equally awful and stale conservative cringe!
    Hang your heads in shame NZ media!
    You are mostly just a toxic dumpster fire of mediocre BS that spreads poorly edited and produced fear articles, division, clickbait titles, cut and paste paragraphs, pay walled propaganda and trivial nonsense!

  4. Don’t be too harsh on RNZ @ Martyn. They’ve got some good people working for them. It’s just that they struggle under the usual cabal of bullshit artists. And it seems the Fa-f-f-f–aa-a-foi is comfortable with it all .
    I’ve been hoping he might pivot in this space going forward except I’m not sure – given his commercially -oriented background in johnalism, that he’s worked out where to put the fulcrum.
    Perhaps another inquiry might do it

    • Some really good people working for RNZ? Thinking, thinking … ah yes, Simon Morris and Phil O’Brien. Let’s see, who else? None, actually. Can’t think of anyone else I’d tune in to hear.

      • Quite a few at Concert FM (although a diminishing number due to the bullshit artists pulling the levers). Colin Peacock – who really should be the editor in chief, and his sidekicks; Paul Brennan, Lynne Freeman, Kim Hill – quite a few really. One or two of the newcomers – the cadets. And as far as people with journalistic values (partisan considerations aside), you could include Lisa Owen, Susie Fergusson and others.
        I bet you’d be surprised at how some of them vote. Or don’t.
        Take the good with the bad. Christ! I sometimes do my best to tolerate “old school Jessie”, although I worry he’s about to bring out a Bible and start preaching at any moment. (There’s something about Jessie – can’t put my finger on it, and even if I could, I wouldn’t really want to)
        You’ve got to remember though, that anyone that’s been through having to cut their colours in the age where the neo-liberal religion became fashionable is going to be at least slightly tainted. I’d line anyone of them up against their commercial radio rivals, and they’d excel.

        Not to say though that there isn’t quite a bit of very ugly dross

      • Ekshully, I forget – because there are those that’ll probably never get a mention. Gill Bonnet is one. Her efforts rival those of Michael Morrah. Most would never be aware of some of the dysfunction that exists in our gummint institutions – INZ and the LI in particular. In fact, I’d credit her and Morrah forsome of them finally having to get off their chuffs and do their jobs.
        There are others. Many find themselves having to shuffle into little pozzies where opportunities arise. Fonseka …. Kilgallon …

  5. An impressive and well spoken rant, Bomber. Sadly government has swallowed the cool aid of woke right wing supremacy so it probably falls on deaf ears.

    Real journalism that effects communities and real solutions from real experts (not paid propaganda) isn’t really out there in the media.

  6. I’ve watched all of Adam Curtis documentaries and this one is the most sobering sums everything up perfectly

      • Part 3 is ffn scary the coal and fossil fuel industry and climate scientists prog that any one single event could tip the scales. We are hurtling towards catastrophe and nothing is being done by our politicians who are all power-hungry psychopaths including NZ govt (s) of present and past.

  7. Thanks for the heads up on the latest Adam Curtis brilliance, Martyn.

    Also essential viewing are Adam Curtis’s ‘The Century of the Self’ and ‘The Power of Nightmares’.

    Nothing beats Albert Bartlett’s ‘Arithmetic Population and Energy’, though.

  8. Thanks for the heads up on that doco series. I made the mistake of watching the first ep of Citizens Handbook. Should come with a warning that it is super anti-White and woke. As in RNZ’s Land of the Long White Cloud ‘white guilt’ series, which thought it was serious, this supposed comedy portrayed James Cook as an effete ponsy English toff. Why do Maori and their woke allies find this completely inaccurate assessment of Cook (a hardworking, intelligent and remarkably compassionate Yorkshireman) funny? I just reach for the off button

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