Friday A/V Club: World Leader Predicts TV Will Solve the Planet's Problems

A blast of techo-utopianism from 1929


In this raw footage for a newsreel in 1929, Czechoslovak President T.G. Masaryk praises American innovation and ingenuity. Along the way—starting at 1:22—he offers some thoughts about the utopia to come once television is perfected:

That is the question.
Proctor and Bergman

I sometimes fancy a much greater invention: to see and hear in the distance without any wire. Just imagine. You could observe from your place—say, in the sitting room—the jungles of Africa, what the wild beasts are doing there. And more, you could see and listen to the jungles of our human society. Every man then would be forced to be honest, and there would be no more secret plotting anymore, of all the wickedness. Wonderful, no?

Wait. Is he talking about television, or is he predicting universal surveillance? Or is it both—an early glimmer of the pending day when reality TV and the NSA finally converge? (I'm reminded of the great silent-era science-fiction movie L'Inhumaine, which envisioned a sort of television where the performer views her audience instead of the other way around, changing channels to watch one fan after another.)

If you want to see the whole thing—which also features Godardian edits, a horseback-riding interlude, and a military band—here you go:

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

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  1. I think the entire UK is like this now, right? Don’t they have CCTV in everyone’s bathroom yet?

    if not, why not? that’s a missed revenue stream.

    1. They have yet to take the final step of making every CCTV camera accessible to anyone with cable.

      1. well, it’s SKY over there anyway, so it would suck.

    2. Yeah, and you should see how often they leave the toilet paper empty.


    On December 29, 2014, Hilyard and Davis’ girlfriend, April Edwards, got into a physical altercation, which resulted in Hilyard stabbing the woman with a kitchen knife and fleeing the scene.

    Davis naturally called 911 for help. But when the DeKalb County Police were dispatched, and Officer Joseph Pitts was first to arrive on scene, the situation flipped on its head.

    Three eye-witnesses claim that the officer never announced his arrival on the scene, nor did he identify himself. Immediately, upon seeing the couple’s three-legged dog, the officer opened fire, killing the canine.

    Davis heard gun shots and thought that Hilyard had returned with a firearm. He retrieved his own legal weapon and proceeded to the front of the house where he was immediately shot by the same officer who had just killed his dog.

    Edwards and neighbors all agree that Officer Pitts never identified himself, nor told Davis to put down his weapon. He simply shot the dog, then shot Davis ? both on sight.

    1. yeah, but if we were all on TV all the time this never would have happened.

      Also, the photograph in the article clearly shows the WHY to this story.

      1. What race was the dog?

    2. Now now, the DeKalb Co PD has investigated this and found that their officer was telling the truth and everybody else was just mistaken. The GA Bureau of Investigation will be happy to investigate if the DeKalb Co PD or District Attorney ask them to – not because a group of mere citizens asks them to.

      1. And yes, their faith that the GBI would come to a different conclusion is touching.

  3. You could observe from your place?say, in the sitting room?the jungles of Africa, what the wild beasts are doing there. And more, you could see and listen to the jungles of our human society.

    What an idiot. Sitting room? Try on my cell phone, dummy.

    1. How would you power such a device?

      1. orphans.

        1. seriously, at work the other day they were talking about expanding the town recreation center. I advocated they use the exercise bikes that produce power to operate the building. I laid out how orphans could do it because they don’t have anywhere else to be, since they have no families to miss them.

          They looked at me as if I was joking. I’ll remember to wear my monocle next time.

          (seriously, I did say this.)

  4. “Every man then would be forced to be honest, and there would be no more secret plotting anymore, of all the wickedness.”

    Huh. I wonder how they were jobbed out of the Sudetenland. If only TV had been more ubiquitous…

  5. Actually, TV did solve all of our problems. If you watch Gilligan’s Island closely, it’s just a long series of practical tips to solving major global crises. Sadly, we didn’t get the message.

    1. Practical tips on boat repair were sadly missing.

      1. Which is critical when global warming finally melts the ice caps.

      2. They didn’t repair the boat to highlight the need to cooperate to solve our problems rather than running away from them.

  6. OT: Another impeccable military CGO buttfucked by top brass a la Will Swensen……..lver-star/

    Cannot wait to GTFO.

  7. Now that I read hi Wikipedia entry, he looks like one of those people I’m sorry to have not known about, and that it might pay for more of us to study.

  8. Didn’t I muse some weeks ago in one of these comment threads about how if we could all psychically observe each other, all guilt, shame, fear, misbehavior, oppression, etc. would quickly vanish?

  9. Proctor and Bergman! The great Peter Bergman of blessed memory and the great Phil Proctor! You made my day.

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