Personal Parables #6

Bernard and the Genie: The bit where the Genie eats a Big Mac, then hears Mozart and think’s they’re both amazing, then hears Barry White and think’s he’s even better.

I’m not sure of anyone saw this 1991 Christmas TV movie other than me, but it was great! Directed by Richard Curtis, staring Alan Cumming, Lenny Henry and Rowan Atkinson with cameos from Melvyn Bragg and Bob Geldof.

The embed here should take you straight to the moment I’m referencing at 23min 54seconds but the whole films is there. Go on, watch it.

Anyway, the idea that stuck with me, even at the age of 13, was that someone from far in the past, with no social or historical experience of modern food or  music would be able to recognise them as excellent.

More still, that he’d hear Mozart first and think it’s an improvement from the music of his time, but then hear Barry White as better still. As if music and everything in the world is successively improving in quality, like a sort of evolutionary survival of the fittest.

If the Genie heard some grime now would he explode in delight further still? Or be able to detect the improvement in the 90s Big Mac to the 2016 extra pesticides and GM version?

I thought of this clip earlier this year also when reading the reporting of ‘Do Speakers of Different Languages Hear Music Differently?’. Though I do with that article didn’t have that question mark.