Monday, September 17, 2012

Society of the Spectacle

In today’s society, media consumes almost everything. As technology has continued to evolve, we have become extremely obsessed and dependent with the latest toys and gadgets whether we realize it or not. As human beings we can’t help but want the best of the best or to be up on the latest trends. 

According to Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, “the domination of society by “intangible as well as tangible things” attains its ultimate fulfillment in the spectacle, where the real world is replaced by a selection of images which are projected above it, yet which at the same time succeed in making themselves regarded as the epitome of reality” (36). What he means by this is that images are very powerful tools. Media is basically entertaining our society so much that it is distracting us and altering our perception of reality.

As Debord stated, the spectacle is totally colonizing our social life. According to Josh Wolford’s article Media Consumption Booming in America, all media consumption has increased 20% since last year and as per their survey, responders reported 8 hours and 11 minutes per day spent on television, radio, and the Internet. For example, our cell phones now have become the most convenient source of media. Our phones have turned into more than just a device that lets us connect to our close relatives and friends instead our phones connect us to the world in seconds with just one touch.  The spectacle has empowered us to believe that we need these devices such as the iPhone. Along with the images we see on television, billboards and magazines, these images are just constant reminders that illustrate that this is how things should be. 

Its impact goes much farther than just wanting to buy these items. Consumers want to live the way the commodity as a spectacle portrays. Any time you turn on the television, you see beautiful, skinny people/celebrities that are being spokespersons for whatever beauty product or diet supplement that they want us to use. Portraying these images of beautiful and super skinny people persuade the audience to want to be just like that. The media is using beauty and body image as a tactic to undermine the average body shape to advertise fashion and its products to their consumers.

The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself. In a way these media images are embedding themselves into our brains. The sad thing is Debord wrote this in 1967 and 45 years later, we are very much submerged with media. And still Debord is accurate especially when he stated, "the spectacle is a permanent opium war designed to force people to equate goods with commodities and to equate satisfaction with a survival that expands according to its own laws” (44).  The rules still apply.

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