Monday, September 17, 2012

Post #1 - Society of the Spectacle

The idea of the spectacle can described as an abstract idea about the power of the image towards its viewers or the public. The society of the spectacle is essentially the people who have been molded into what the spectacle wants them to be. The spectacle is the thing that influences the public to an opinion, whether it is an ad, music, video, and so on. Guy-Ernest Debord explains how revolutionary the image, or the spectacle, has become in The Society of the Spectacle. Through a single image, society's view of reality is changed. The idea of what should be valued and what shouldn't be valued is changed. The idea of what is wanted versus what is needed is changed. Overall the public's depiction of the real world is a skew because of the false reality brought to them through the media. The commodity as spectacle is utilized in a way to subjugate the public into a false reality.

One way that the commodity as spectacle leads to the public's false reality is through mass production. As Debord describes in The Society of the Spectacle, "The loss of quality that is so evident at every level of spectacular language... stems from the basic nature of a production system that shuns reality. The commodity form reduces everything to quantitative equivalence. The quantitative is what it develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative," (39). Basically because of mass production, or quantity, there is a loss of value or quality. If there is enough of something then everyone can have it. Despite losing the initial quality of this certain thing, the overwhelming desire for it balances out for that loss. This becomes a part of society. It allows for the public to believe that this thing they have is of more worth than in reality. 

Apple iPad (Source)

For example, a popular product of today, such as the iPad, is mass produced for the millions. The iPad said to have made a huge difference in today's consumption of media (Rodman 3). Simply purchasing one will allow for the consumer a new experience in digital technology, however, by that time many other consumer will have the product as well. Everyone wants to embrace this new form of consumption. Many consumers wish live with the idea of individuality and having such a product allows for such an idea, when in actuality they are not alone.

Another reason the public yearn for a false reality from the commodity is solely because they enjoy it. People within society become distracted by what they see to the point of actual pleasure. People will honestly believe that this is their way to escape from their own reality and fall into another. This is not because of persuasion from the media but because people simply like it. For example at an extravagant restaurant many people will choose to order dessert after dinner. The consumption of such a luxury is meant for pleasure and not for what food was intended for. Food is essential for human survival to obtain energy, however, in this case it can be considered for entertainment use. The same idea of pleasure can go back with the iPad. People get lost in the world of new technology because they enjoy using it.

Cheesecake... Yum (Source)

Because of the belief in these false realities due to the various spectacles and through media, people in society lose sight of their actual reality. This does not mean that one benefits over the other however. Both the spectacle and the people are interdependent over the other. Yet despite this, it cannot be helped that the realization of a false reality can be easily overlooked. They forget the difference between what they need and what they want. They believe that they need to be part of the new technology of today's generation or that they need to consume the best of foods. They feel that they need to be a part of the society that the spectacle shows them. All of this, however, stems from what they want. The public only wants instead of realizing what is needed.

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