Mythologies Graphic of Richard Clay on defaced Dollar Bill

21st Century Mythologies

BBC Arts

Richard Clay explores how the 1957 book “Mythologies”, by French philosopher Roland Barthes laid bare the myth-making at the heart of consumer culture. After Barthes, the world never looked the same again. Now, following in Barthes’ footsteps, Richard dissects some of the everyday things we still take for granted in the 21st Century, revealing the hidden meanings in everything from money to the Madonna, Wi-Fi to Race. It’s a journey that takes us from Paris to Margate, from Manhattan’s streets to Florence’s Accademia. Richard Clay meets avant-garde artists including Ingrid Burrington, Molly Soda, Rene Matic and Clet Abraham, whose work subverts the assumptions that underpin how we see our world. We are introduced to semiotics, Barthes’ study of signs and symbols, a tool kit that helps us navigate advertising and demands on our attention. In today’s world of relentless digital information, myths, Richard argues, have the ability to hoodwink us more than ever. What might Roland Barthes have made of the 21st Century?


Archive Producer: Hannah Cassavetti

Graphics: Philip K Good

Music: Matt Peters

Production Manager: Clare Burns

Post Production: Coda

Editor: Rhiannon Mayor

BBC Commissioning Editor: Mark Bell

Executive Producer: Russell Barnes

Camera & Location Director: Tom Harrad

Producer & Director: Amanda Rubin