The culture adabei

Bangers of the television to burst: first candidate is gert scobel

Gert scobel, host of "culture time" on 3sat, "morgenmagazin" on ard and "tv for life" on zdf, is a very smart one. How he basks in his own smartness, how his eyes gleam at every successful twist, pardon volte-face, that surrounds the subject of his presentation. Brain research? Kant? Finnish punk rock? No problem, scobel knows what he’s talking about, can squeeze a clever quid out of his brain tube on any topic, and slap on another stroke of wisdom.

Looking at the jesuit sophomore and former berkeley student, you can imagine how, even as a schoolboy, he excitedly "here! Here" and snapped his fingers, because he had already read the psychoanalytical interpretations of kafka when he was twelve. Of course he has to get rid of that immediately.

With scobel everything is cast as if in wax. It’s not about the work and the enjoyment of it, but about the most sophisticated, derrida-washed explanation and the most arabesque introduction. The occupational disease of cultural journalists, who no longer have to pay admission for anything, who get stacks of books sent to them every day, who have to orient themselves to the feuilleton of the sz and faz, make art, literature and theater and all the clutter a kind of flipbook for someone like him, which rattles through your fingers.

You can tell he’s bored with culture: another writer who just spouts banal stuff in response to his, scobel’s, sophisticated questions, another well-intentioned independent film from burkina faso that you have to report on but don’t want to watch, the usual suspects of contemporary culture (grass, lars von trier, jeff koons) that you have to celebrate, regardless of whether they’ve produced anything significant, the well-honed provocation of showing a shaky camera or an iggy pop video. Then scobel and the editors of kulturzeit have a bit of a stomachache, want to break out of the box thinking and the ghetto of openings and perhaps not save the world, but explain it, bring it closer, then they quickly expand the concept of culture, it’s all one anyway, and do a little politics. Middle east conflict, bioethics, fundamentalism, at least you can still taste a bit of real life – and if you look hard enough, a bit of real blood, too.

Gert scobel has a problem. He is just too smart for this world. His comments on culture are cleverer than culture itself. During interviews, which he gives himself, he is bored by the predictable questions, asks counter-questions and leads over into the philosophical. He is more at home up there. But the stress of knowing everything, of moderating, of prefacing, his envy of roger willemsen, the constant good-humored model-schooler-ness have not left the aged 44-year-old unscathed. His right upper lip tightens, a widespread sign of inwardly bursting ambition and the resisting body. Like a bulging bicycle inner tube with a bulge forming in the rubber.

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