Monday, September 17, 2012

The Society of the Spectacle

It should occur to the human race, that we live in a society where conformity has taken over the dominant percentage of people. As a whole, we fail to acknowledge that we are being highly persuaded by what we watch and see on our television screens, radios, and billboard advertisements. We have even joined these media outlets together to be received on one device.  These varieties of images are put together and have generated a new relation amongst people known as a spectacle.
            The spectacle has empowered our minds to believe that images in media are more than visions, but they are reality.  It becomes a part of our consciousness resulting in an inability to separate what is real and what is not.  This inadequacy to determine what is real and what isn’t concludes in a failure to also regulate what is a need versus a simple desire.  Debord says “Consciousness of desire and desire of consciousness are the same project . . .” (53), implying that we can no longer tell the difference between wants and needs.  This fake reality we have created for ourselves has taken that ability away from us.  An example of society as a spectacle, is the impact of the iPhone.  There was a time where the most advanced mobile device was a beeper and people did just fine communicating with each other.  Today, it has advanced to a point where, not only do we need a device that can connect us to others, but it needs to be an iPhone.  Is it that we really need this device, or have we surpassed our desire for the electronic because the media has embedded in our brains that we need it? We as people, unify based on the media that this device is a need.  The picture below demonstrates how people will wait in line for hours to get this superficial need of theirs.

            The idea that culture becomes media, branches from the commodity of the spectacle. The repetitive exposure to persuasive images in general has made the desire for commodities.  Also, the fact that media has become very much mobile, we have a constant relation with the intentions of these illustrations. “By mobilizing all human use value and monopolizing its fulfillment, exchange value ultimately succeeded in controlling use.”    We no longer have to burn our eyes on the television, which some still do but we can see the power of the spectacle no matter where we are.  This results in a loss of value for there is such a large quantity of media produced.


         Still, the idea of the spectacle is what allows the economy to exist.  As the media continues to create this reality for consumers, they will continue to buy. Therefore money will continue to be made off this spectacle.  “One society discovers that it depends on the economy, the economy in fact depends on the society,” (52).  Debord is saying that the economy needs society to continue to be fed by these false realities in order to survive.  If people came to the realization that they were in fact in control rather than being consumed into this falsified reality, the economy would fail because it would no longer make money off of the biggest class that supports them, middle class.
            The realization is there but the action is nowhere to be found.  As Debord says in this chapter, as time elapses, people fail to see the advancements made in society.  This is the same way that humans will fail to see that rather than take control, they will continue to be pulled more and more in by the media.  Instead of conforming against this falsified reality they will only conform to be disciplined by images, the spectacle.

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