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True Detective: Philosophy and Television

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Interesting article about the nexus between philosophy and television, and how critics perceive it in a medium, until recently, shorn of any intellectual artifice.

The author gets right to the point.

True Detective is a well-acted and compellingly plotted mystery, which is held back by its occasional pretensions to intellectual seriousness. Above all, True Detective stands accused of engaging in philosophy.

I have not seen HBO’s True Detective, but I’ve heard of it. It’s a glacially paced police procedural about a 17-year chase for a serial killer. One of the main characters, Cohle, is bit of an odd duck. Cohle is a brooding detective with a sharp mind. He is also an introvert with a tendency to go on philosophical tangents. An example:

I have seen the finale of thousands of lives, man. Young, old, each one was so sure of their realness, that their sensory experience constituted a unique individual; purpose, meaning, so certain that they were more than just a biological puppet. Truth wills out, everybody sees once the strings are cut off all down.

And it’s these philosophical meanderings that have some critics calling the show ‘pretentious’ and ‘intellectual’ or outright nerdy. Television viewers, it seems, prefer television to be not only tasty but easily digestible—in essence, “show, but not tell.” If they wanted to see somebody wax philosophical they would watch some undecipherable European art film, preferably shot in black-and-white. And nobody watches those. This leads to the conclusion that philosophy, as a subject of study, is not taken seriously by the general public, let alone television critics.

Please read the article in its entirety. I can’t do it justice by summarizing it here. It’s well-written and a damn good read regardless if you like philosophy or not.

(via the week)

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Written by niraj

March 17th, 2014 at 3:26 pm

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