Saturday, August 25, 2012

Education via the Teevee

Some people might say, "Lauren, spending eight or so hours a day watching TV surely cannot be good for you." And I would say, "FALSE! Sometimes I learn shit!" Here is some of it:

1. Tonight Isaac put on some Nazi show (there is always a Nazi show on some channel, it is an American law) about Hitler's "inner circle" and then promptly took a 1.5 hour nap on one of the couches (Yes, we have multiple full-size couches, what do you think we are, animals?). I was basically playing Fitz the whole time, but I was listening since Fitz does not require much intellectual strain. Not only did I learn about how Hitler loved him some adolescent ladies (a disturbingly high percentage of whom at least attempted suicide after getting involved with him), but that he was LITERALLY somebody's creepy uncle. Geli Raubal was the eldest daughter of Hitler's half-sister. Though there is no direct evidence Adolf and Geli ever had a romantic relationship, he sure treated her like they did. An abusive relationship, that is. She moved in with her uncle in Berlin at 19 apparently pretended to go to medical school for awhile. When Hitler found out she and his chauffeur were planning to marry, he fired the chauffeur and basically started treating Geli like she was a prisoner in her own home. She couldn't go anywhere on her own, despite the fact that Hitler would be gone for long boring periods of time doing political stuff, and anyway in 1931 she shot herself in Hitler's apartment. AWKWARD.
It's totally normal for 19 year-old girls to want to hang out with their fascist uncles all the time, right?
Hitler was apparently distraught. Then he probably came up with a way to blame Jews or queers or something for her suicide and quickly got together with Eva Braun, who was actually like 21 or something really old compared to most of Hitler's exes. Was he really doin' it with his niece? Responsible historians would probably consult more than one random TV documentary and Wikipedia and say we can never know for sure, but I am not responsible. I say even if they weren't doin' it, Uncle Adolf totally wanted to.

Pretty much just like this. Fabulous image found here.
 2. Later on, I learned about phlogiston on the Science channel. What is phlogiston? you might ask. Well, besides my new band name, it's a fake element or something that 17th- and 18th-century alchemists believed was in stuff, but was removed by/caused fire. Or whatever, just read the Wikipedia article. I mostly just enjoyed how many times the British scientist host guy said "phlogiston" in one hour. I also love that olden times people believed in that shit and kept thinking they were proving phlogiston existed when they were actually, like, discovering hydrogen or whatever.

Do YOU like learning stuff from TV? I have some suggestions for you since TV is my life! This may or may not be a multiple-choice situation:

a) If you like that history of science stuff, you must watch historian James Burke's Connections. Only the original ten-episode 1978 run is worth it in my opinion, but he did do two later series of the same name for TLC in the '90s or something that just aren't as good. Connections is delightful and British and nerdy and James Burke wears the same awesome white '70s suit in every episode. My dad suggested I check this out, and my nerdy little soul was not disappointed.

b) Are you more into history-history? Then you should check out Medieval Lives. Written and hosted by former Monty Python-er and apparent history nerd Terry Jones, this 2004 eight-episode series takes on the middle ages in Europe (mostly England). Each episode focuses on one iconic medieval character type ("The Knight" or "The Peasant") and presents fascinating as well as absurd and humorous facts about how middle ageans actually lived. With cheesy costuming and skits, obviously. I heard about this one from the lovely and talented Kate Beaton's Tumblr.

c) Or are you too cool for learning? Are you into fake, IRONIC education instead? Then you should DEFINITELY check out Look Around You, a 2002 spoof of British educational films from the '70s and '80s. Each fantastic ten-minute episode has a scientific theme. Watch while the "facts" and "experiments" build in absurdity. Seriously, it's so good. I haven't seen the second series from 2005, which apparently takes a different set of films on because it's not on Netflix. So I can't tell you anything about that. But watch series one. You will laugh so hard, you won't care about how confused you are. Netflix recommended this to me for obvious reasons.

Apparently I only like educational shows from the UK. Go figure.

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