Anke Engelke used to be very funny. Today she is walking through Hamburg with the actor Bjarne Mädel for an environmental program on SWR entitled “We can also do it differently”. Both of them look like a couple of biology teachers who have inherited and are now canning apricots full-time. He is allowed to grill neck steaks once a month, but only if they come from the organic farm. Of course someone like that would be more pleasant as a neighbor than Alexander Gauland or Fynn Kliemann. But of course it wouldn’t be cool either. Because that fucked-up happiness comes out of the faces of Bjarne Mädel and Anke Engelke, which you only radiate when you know that you’re on the right side.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek lately. And I think that good art and good artists also have something to do with soiling their nests. It was the same with Schlingensief. Or at Kinski. Without any kind of friction with society and the zeitgeist, without some public abuse, it’s just despondent. This is the spirit from which the maximum number of wall tattoos with slogans such as “When life gives you lemons make lemonade” can arise. I mean, Bernhard for example, he said such beautiful sentences. “The mentality of the Austrians is like a donut: red on the outside, brown on the inside and always a little drunk.”

But Bjarne Mädel and Anke Engelke don’t soil nests and certainly not their own. They want to show how great everything is. Which of course has to be possible. Maybe they also do what has recently been called “cohesion-sensitive journalism”. Or maybe they just took MDMA and their synapses are exploding from all the serotonin. In any case, they get into an electric bus from a company that belongs to the VW group and is of course run by a Torben and a Sascha.

Anke Engelke says: “Schick!”, and Bjarne Mädel suddenly talks like the press spokesman for the local transport company when Heike from the HR department buys a round of champagne for her birthday: “The special thing is that you can rent it if you need it and talk to bis divided into five people, all driving in the same direction. In addition, the buses are electric and run on green electricity. That’s good for the air in the city and definitely more pleasant than looking for a parking space for 20 minutes. And it’s cheaper than a taxi too.” And in the background there’s cajon acoustic guitar music, which is used in image films for disposable olive wood forks or barefoot shoes.

It all sounds super nice and easy and really fair. But the image of humanity behind it leads straight into the abyss. People who “are all going in the same direction”, as the girl tweets on this bus from hell, are the new ideal in a time and a society in which lateral thinking has become a dirty word. Sure, the lateral thinker protests were dull, and there were Nazis and lunatics, but lateral thinking in itself, that was the prerequisite for progress up to that moment. Seeing things differently than others used to be a special ability. At least it’s right now.

And truths are only truths if they are “consensus”. A professor from Lüneburg recently wrote about the “poison of doubt”. And she really meant it. Yet doubt is a prerequisite for progress. Doubt uncovered the Watergate scandal, Doubt led to the heliocentric world view. In the Winnetou films there is the character of Sam Hawkens. His catch phrase is: “…if I’m not mistaken.” And that is precisely the difference between a humanist of the Enlightenment and a mad absolutist. The man of the Enlightenment believes in his own fallibility, he thinks about it. The absolutist believes he is infallible like the pope. The absolutist calls doubt “poison”.

Anke Engelke and Bjarne Mädel then drive out into the country. Terminus bus stop. And then they stand there and say something like: “Somewhere it’s over.” But the nice man from the Hamburg transport company, who of course always accompanies them, smiles like a benevolent sovereign. And then the “Elbmobil” arrives, a bus that you order via an app. “Looks like a normal bus, but it’s the future,” says Bjarne Mädel. By the way, that already existed in 1983. It was called a shared taxi, and if you were too drunk to get home in the only pub within a 10-kilometer radius on the Swabian Jura, you simply called the shared taxi or the disco bus. The only difference: the app was called Fernsprecher at the time and was in the smoking room.

Anke Engelke then travels to Ghent to have a very nice Belgian show her the advantages of the car-free city. And of course the sun is shining in Ghent, as everywhere else. Because cycling is only fun in the sun. Snow, rain, black ice or people who are physically unable to take part in the traffic of the future will of course not exist.

The show has six episodes. There are only winners. Like Axel Prahl and Annette Frier and Sebastian Vettel. Prahl is known from the Münster “crime scene” as a beer-drinking inspector in St. Pauli clothes. Anette Frier was on television at the end of the nineties. Funnily enough, as the successor to Anke Engelke on the weekly show. And Sebastian Vettel drove in circles very quickly with very high fuel consumption for years, which made him so rich that he can now tell others that he doesn’t like it when you use a lot of gas.

And of course all these beautiful and successful people also meet proven experts. Maja Göpel is there, a transformation scientist who can speak well, but cannot write her books alone. Or Kristine Simonis, an entrepreneur who offers cycle tours and writes about herself and her family on her website: “I haven’t flown for years and avoid driving […] For us, traveling by train and bus is relaxation from the first moment of the journey.”