I fly quite a bit and hate the exercise itself, so I'm always looking for reasons to pick particular airlines. As a massive documentary/mondo fan, I'm very partial to Qantas. They give me a reason to choose them. Thank Christ (or any other imaginary god), they boast a magnificent doco channel in all classes called 'The Edge'. As the name suggests, it leans towards more edgy, confronting material -- definitely NOT the sort of material you expect from an airline, even an Aussie one. But Aussies are pretty relaxed when it comes sex and words like "fuck", "cunt", and "tit". Nudity is all over free Aussie TV and words reserved for paycable in the US are thrown around like dwarves in a bowling alley after 9pm. I think it shows some maturity.
I don't think I've discussed it before, but I find that American cultural invention, the "F-Bomb", an insulting, childish, pandering bunch of hypocrisy. A product of strict, puritan broadcast standards, I'm sure most Americans wouldn't propose it if given the opportunity. Only a cynical bureaucrat would con himself into believing that he was doing the world a favor by demonizing such a word. Such easy "favors" are what these morons do so well. Such nonsense only gives the word extra zing and teaches children that it is "naughty" (therefore, they want to use it as often as possible). Why don't we just drop the charade and focus on more important stuff, harder stuff, like providing real socialized health care for the population, not a watered down compromise that puts smiles on the faces of big business?
But back to 'The Edge'. On a recent flight, I was lucky enough to see Discovery Channel's fantastic -My Shocking Story-, a superb series that focuses on human anomalies such as Tree Men. These poor, unfortunate souls suffer from massive, disfiguring body warts, a symptom of the human papillomavirus.
In 'Treeman Meets Treeman', one Indonesian Treeman meets another born in the same locale. A third Treeman is revealed as the episode progresses, and we discover that, though based in Holland, this Treeman's father was also born in the same section of Indonesia. Aside from some fascinating medical facts, we're served up some truly magnificent visuals of the Treefellas hanging out together, comparing warts, and being delighted to find that they're not alone.
Everything about this series is stellar, and it satisfies both freak cravings and deeply-rooted sympathy most of us feel for unfortunate human beings whose lives are a challenge twenty-four hours a day.
Other humans of immense interest in this series include the 'Freak Show Family', 'Octoboy' (no relation to Octamom), 'Human Spider Sisters', "Giant Head', and "Real Wolf Kids'.
These "freaks", once the cinematic domain of 70's mondo movies, have graduated to prime time, and I couldn't be happier.
We humans are fascinated by those so similar yet very different to us. We share the human connection, but are intrigued by the way the physical can disassociate us from others. These shows re-connect the broken line and foreground that which was once shunned and deliberately forgotten.
I salute the bravery of these individuals.
So, if you fly Qantas, you're in for some mind-blowing entertainment.
Also on 'The Edge' and caught/enjoyed by this writer was another excellent documentary on my favorite subject -- dolls! Sex dolls in this case, but robotic ones. In 'My Sex Robot', the Real Doll phenomenon may be coming to an end with actual robots vying for the currently occupied pillow beside you. Some Real Doll enthusiasts check out the plastic vaginas on offer and admit that the robot makers are edging closer to producing something approximating the human experience (without the human complexities, of course, which can be a bad thing and a good thing).
The always reliable Louis Theroux is also appearing on current Qantas mini-screens with his 'Medicated Kids', a knockout doc on the disturbing trend of drugging your sprout in order to control the little bugger. Strict, consistent parenting used to do the trick. Now drugs allow parents to skulk away from firm parenting.
All these docs (or parts of them) are also available internationally on TV, tubes, torrents, cable systems, and friendly public broadcasting systems.