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21st Century Mythologies

BySidsel Norgaard

Oct 18, 2014

The Selfie, The Kardashians and The Apple Icon are some of the random phenomena being investigated in 21st Century Mythologies, presented by the acclaimed writer and critic Peter Conrad. The description of the radio series seemed very interesting in my opinion, and when every program only consists of 11 minutes, it seemed like a very easy way of being enlightened on a specific phenomena.

But when the first episode is concerning the screw-top wine bottle I’m instantly beginning to yawn, because it already seems a bit boring in relation to some of the other fascinating phenomena. But the structure of the program is actually very good. Conrad is not talking only about the screw-top wine bottle, but also interesting facts about everything concerning wine and the century that we’re living in. The program starts with a slow and smooth jingle, inviting you to relax and just let the flow of information roll out of your speakers and into your mind. Conrad’s voice is similar to the jingle, very smooth, but when the program’s topic is the screw-top wine bottle his voice may instead put you down to sleep.

So, it’s easy to lose concentration, but he’s actually constantly dragging you back in with his beautiful metaphors and intelligent quotes by the French semiotician, Roland Barthes. The series is actually made in relation to the similar works of Barthes in the 1950s, but his works in the last century seems to get more attention, than the works of our century, which should be the main topic.

When all is said, Conrad is taking a great perspective on the importance of investigating what Barthes is calling “the ideologies of the myths” that in Conrad’s words: “whisper in our ears and dictate our desires, press our buttons and pop our corks.”    

Whilst thrilling for wine-enthusiasts and interested academics, but for others, it may, unfortunately instead, be very dull. A slow start, hopefully the next phenomena will be more exciting.

Our regular column ‘The Netflix Fix’ celebrates the increasingly important medium of television streaming – in truth though, Netflix is only one of many intriguing technological advancements that have changed the way consumers  enjoy their required dosage of entertainment in recent years.

Perhaps overlooked in this regeneration of the media industry is the move that British radio has made to make content more accesible and indeed, more innovative via the smartphone and tablet friendly app.

Radio has always been the most portable device: cars carried the soundwaves, builders brought it into freshly plastered bathrooms and it’s always been on summer lawns – informing the hips of teens which way to sway.

The iPlayer Radio App, which encompasses all BBC Radio stations (including local radio) entitles the audience to download shows for on-the-go listening, to devour  podcasts and archived shows and find brand new content that daytime radio generally leaves to the black hole of the internet.

It really is an exceptional example of the type of development (long overdue) that will give radio the respect it deserves and has lost in the wake of television’s “Third Golden Age” and film’s continued dominance.

Whether you’re wanting to tune into old episodes of the delicious Goon Show or ready to become embroiled in the maddening beauty of Mark Gatiss ‘s (Yes, Mycroft from Sherlock) Black Butterfly – which is a geniunely unique take on detective fiction starring his brilliant protaganist Lucifer Box (imagine an even more ostentatious Holmes and you’re somewhere close) then this is a must have app.

The times they are a’ changing and radio is changing with it – perhaps though, as rugged builders and sunsoaked teenagers proved, it was always going to happen.

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