Historian Bettany Hughes retraces the lives of three great thinkers whose ideas shaped the modern world: Karl Marx, Frederick Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

Born in the 19th century, they lived through a time when old certainties were breaking down. Regimes were overthrown by mass uprisings, science was undermining religious authority. Their challenge was to figure out what makes us human in a fast-evolving world.

Genius of the Modern World - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: To Be Determined

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2016-06-16

Genius of the Modern World - Church of the SubGenius - Netflix

The Church of the SubGenius is a parody religion that satirizes better-known belief systems. It teaches a complex philosophy that focuses on J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, purportedly a salesman from the 1950s, who is revered as a prophet by the Church. SubGenius leaders have developed detailed narratives about Dobbs and his relationship to various gods and conspiracies. Their central deity, Jehovah 1, is accompanied by other gods drawn from ancient mythology and popular fiction. SubGenius literature describes a grand conspiracy that seeks to brainwash the world and oppress Dobbs' followers. In its narratives, the Church presents a blend of cultural references in an elaborate remix of the sources. Ivan Stang, who co-founded the Church of the SubGenius in the 1970s, serves as its leader and publicist. He has imitated actions of other religious leaders, using the tactic of culture jamming in an attempt to undermine better-known faiths. Church leaders instruct their followers to avoid mainstream commercialism and the belief in absolute truths. The group holds that the quality of “Slack” is of utmost importance—it is never clearly defined. The number of followers is unknown, although the Church's message has been welcomed by college students and artists in the United States. The group is often compared to Discordianism. Journalists often consider the Church to be an elaborate joke, but a few academics have defended it as an honest system of deeply held beliefs.

Genius of the Modern World - Instructions - Netflix

Church leaders have issued specific instructions to their followers; Robert Latham of the University of California, Riverside, casts their ideology as “anarcholibertarian”. Five specific commands particularly embody the group's values. The first command is to shun regular employment and stop working. This encapsulates the Church's view that to repent is to “SLACK OFF” (sic), in opposition to the idea of working for a living. SubGenius leaders state that it is permissible for members to collect public assistance in lieu of maintaining employment. The second command is to purchase products that are sold by the Church, which its leaders teach was founded by Dobbs to gain wealth. Unlike most religious groups, the Church proudly admits it is for-profit (presumably mocking some religious groups that seem to have ulterior financial motives). Cusack sees the instruction to buy as an ironic parody of the “greed is good” mentality of the 1980s, and Kirby notes that although the group emphasizes “the consumption of popular cultural artefacts”, this consumption is “simultaneously de-emphasized by the processes of remix”. The third command is to rebel against “law and order”: specifically, the Church condemns security cameras and encourages computer hacking. Cusack notes that this instruction recalls Robert Anton Wilson's critique of law and order. The fourth command is to rid the world of everyone who did not descend from Yetis. SubGenius leaders teach that Dobbs hopes to rid the Earth of 90 percent of humanity, making the Earth “clear”. The group praises drug abuse and abortion as effective methods of culling unneeded individuals. The fifth command is to exploit fear, specifically that of individuals who are part of the conspiracy. Church leaders teach that members of the conspiracy fear SubGenius devotees.

Genius of the Modern World - References - Netflix