American Experience: Command and Control • 2016

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Command and Control presents the terrifying, true story of what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to become the very source of our own destruction. Based on The New York Times bestseller by Eric Schlosser the film tells the story of a 1980 accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in minute-by-minute detail through the accounts of Air Force personnel, weapon designers, and first responders who were there, revealing the incredible chain of events that brought America to the brink of nuclear disaster. In so doing, the film explores the great dilemma that the United States has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?

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Part 1

In the first of this three-part series investigating consumer spending, Jacques reveals how the concept of 'product lifespan' holds the key to our ever-churning consumerism. Exploring the historical origin of planned obsolescence, when some of the world biggest electrical manufacturers formed a light bulb cartel in the 1920s, Jacques reveals how products that are essential to our modern lifestyles are still made to break. During his investigation, Jacques uncovers the process by which a crucial transformation happened and attitudes towards spending were transformed. Instead of needing new goods because our old ones were broken, we learned to want them for reasons of fashion and aspiration - awaking a consumer appetite that could never be satisfied. In the US, he visits a recycling centre where brand-new high-tech goods are destroyed before they have even come out of the box. Jacques also meets some of the companies that encourage consumers to be dissatisfied with what they have and encourage purchases as part of an ever-faster cycle of 'upgrades'. He asks a senior IKEA executive why, despite the company's commitment to sustainability, it still encourages repeated discarding and purchasing. Jacques also talks to a former senior Apple employee who reveals how the company's new focus on fashion, with its colourful iPhones, keeps us buying even when technological innovation slows.

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American Experience: Command and Control

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Part 3

Jacques reveals how the lessons learned from selling to children were used to make childlike consumers of us all. From the rise of product-driven kids’ TV in the 80s, to the man who designed cars that appealed to children, and the contemporary creators of games that hook adults, Jacques asks how spending turned into a game – one that we can’t stop playing.

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