30 November, 2010

30 Nov - Baudrillard and Reality TV

LAUNCHPROJECTS - In his essay The Hyper-realism of Simulation (originally published in 1976), French theorist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard asserts that the use and abundance of media, signs, and symbols has so bombarded our culture that “reality itself, as something separable from signs of it …vanished in the information-saturated, media-dominated contemporary world” (1018). Photography, mass production, television, and advertising have shaped and altered authentic experience to the point that “reality” is recognized only when it is re-produced in simulation. Truth and reality are mediated and interpreted to an extent that culture can no longer distinguish reality from fantasy. Baudrillard terms this blurring of mediated experience and reality “hyper-reality.”
Baudrillard's essay came immediately to mind when reading about the simultaneous successes of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" and her daughter Brisol's performance in "Dancing with the Stars". In Baudrillard's words, "unreality no longer resides in the dream or fantasy, or in the beyond, but in the real’s hallucinatory resemblance to itself." As Baudrillard predicted, in a world of hyper-realism “an air of nondeliberate parody clings to everything." I wouldn't be surprised to see future politicians creating reality TV shows in an attempt to appear more "real" to their audiences. The dumbing down of America via reality TV. Hallucinatory - nightmarish - indeed.
Pictured: Jean Baudrillard, Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin


  1. Love it! It really seems to indicate that we, as individuals, have a great responsibility to ourselves and those around us to experience "presence" as opposed to absenting ourselves from our own lives.

  2. You might also be interested in a little know work by Umberto Eco called "La guerre du faux" (literally: War against the fake) where he expounds the fact that the imitation of reality imitating reality ad infinitum becomes more attractive in each new incarnation, such an abyss creating "better" realities. One might wonder about those lucid beings defending "primal reality" who would be considered fodder for the funny farm...

  3. Thank you for this great feedback. I read Foucault's Pendulum years ago and love the way Eco thinks. I will be sure to check out La Guerre. Upon first blush I would tend to agree..


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