The Best Episodes of The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom
Last Updated: May 19, 2019
The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom is a BBC documentary series by British filmmaker Adam Curtis, well known for other documentaries including The Century of the Self and The Power of Nightmares. It began airing on BBC Two on 11 March 2007. The series consists of three, one-hour programs which explore the concept and definition of freedom, specifically "how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today's idea of freedom." What does freedom actually mean today? This series of films by BAFTA-winning producer Adam Curtis argues that our freedom is a limited kind of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today's idea of freedom. This model was apparently derived from techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War. Genetic biologists, anthropologists, radical psychiatrists and free market economists took it further until it became a new system of invisible control.
#1 - The Lonely Robot
Season 1 - Episode 2
The second episode reiterated many of the ideas of the first, but developed the theme that the drugs such as Prozac and lists of psychological symptoms which might indicate anxiety or depression were being used to normalize behavior and make humans behave more predictably, like machines.
#2 - We Will Force You To Be Free
Season 1 - Episode 3
The final program focused on the concepts of positive and negative liberty introduced in the 1950s by Isaiah Berlin. Curtis briefly explained how negative liberty could be defined as freedom from coercion and positive liberty as the opportunity to strive to fulfill one's potential. Tony Blair had read Berlin's essays on the topic and wrote to him in the late 1990s, arguing that positive and negative liberty could be mutually compatible. He never received a reply, as Berlin was on his death bed.
#3 - Fuck You, Buddy
Season 1 - Episode 1
In this episode, Curtis examines the rise of game theory during the Cold War and the way in which its mathematical models of human behaviour filtered into economic thought with particular reference to the work of John Nash, who believed that all humans were inherently suspicious and selfish creatures that strategised constantly.