• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

21st Century Mythologies

BySidsel Norgaard

Nov 11, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the first episode of the radio series 21st Century Mythologies on BBC Radio 4. In the series, the acclaimed writer and critic Peter Conrad investigates random phenomena from the 21st century, for instance the Selfie, The Kardashians and The Apple Icon. However, I was not truly convinced, when I reviewed the first episode concerning the Screw-top wine bottle, but I wouldn’t give up on the series just yet.

It’s time for a follow up, and this time  the episode investigates the phenomena of “Celebrity Pets”. Still, it starts with the smooth jingle, but Conrad’s voice is actually more enthusiastic and upbeat than before. However, it’s still easy to lose concentration, perhaps because of the massive flow of information, which unfortunately is not as well structured as last time.

The celebrity who’s mainly investigated is Paris Hilton, and her Chihuahua, Tinkerbell. In fact only a few other celebrities are mentioned sporadically, and they all have dogs. So, it doesn’t seem very representative.

Even so, Conrad has some very interesting ideas about the phenomena and provides historical facts, and these facts and ideas will stick to your mind, because they’re given in the right context. For instance, he’s very concerned about the boundary between human and animal, and the fact that this line is almost invisible, because the celebrity pets are being treated as fellow humans.

He also mentions the animals’ Instagram accounts, which is a truly fascinating thing. Unfortunately, this fact is only mentioned quickly, and doesn’t get any further investigation.

Roland Barthes’ work, which seemed to take too much space in the last programme, is mentioned, but this time not far too much, and only in appropriate circumstances. My conclusion is that it’s still a segment program for particular listeners, but it has a lot of very interesting facts, which I’m sure the common listener would find very fascinating. 

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