Name:Stephanie Micallef ID:429697(M)Course:Bachelor of Communications with Philosophy, Year 3AcademicYear: 2017-2018, Semester 1 University of MaltaFaculty of Media and KnowledgeSciences In what ways do media and communicationreflect their contextual time & space in society? With reference tosociological literature, examine in detail one area of your choice that wascovered during the course. Refer to the local Maltese context with referencesto studies and examples. Study-Unit:Sociology and Communications Code:SOC1040Lecturer:Dr Valerie Visanich Postmodernism is a late 20th century concept related to theskeptical, critical interpretations of the arts, architecture, literature,philosophy and culture amongst others. It indicates a shift from thetraditional view of modernism.
In this essay I will be speaking aboutpostmodernism and how it is involved within time and space in society. I willalso be mentioning hyperreality and its approach to media. Moreover, I will bediscussing postmodern theorists and their opinions on how postmodernism andhyperreality affect us in today’s world.
Finally, in this essay, examples fromdifferent contexts will be given. Postmodernism ismade up of a mixture of distinct artistic styles and media with a recurrent integrationof images which are associated to consumerism and mass communication of thelate 20th century postindustrial society (Pynchon, 1966).Additionally, postmodern media tends to adopt parts of different media fromdifferent genres, to create new media. Postmodernism ignores conventions suchas time, space and narrative to create a hyperreality. This is the “deliberatedistortion of reality.
” (Lynes, 2013). The postmodernapproach to media is against the idea that any media product or text has ahigher value than the other. Judgments of value rely on different tastes. Thus,anything can be art reaching different audiences. There is no true distinctionbetween media and reality anymore as our world’s ‘reality’ is defined by imagesand representations.
This is a state of simulacrum (Bhattacharya & Hooton,2010). Some great postmodern examples would be artists like Madonna, Lady Gagaand David Bowie through their creation or recreation of different identities (Bhattacharya& Hooton, 2010). If advertising is taken into consideration, manyadvertising promotions do not try to copy what is already there, but rathercreate something new from imagination. This then becomes our reality. Postmodern writersargue that our society today is over-visual in the idea that we rely more onimages, videos and anything which does not last longer than 3 minutes. Ourreality is now controlled by popular media images found in advertising,television images, film and video games amongst others.
Thus, culture no longerreflects reality. Postmodernist theorists tend to ignore the continuity frommodernism and instead focus on the differences between the two approaches. Jean-FrancoisLyotard’s Postmodern Condition startsoff with the hypothesis that “the status of knowledge is altered as societiesenter what is known as the postindustrial age and cultures enter what is knownas the postmodern age.” (Lyotard, 1985). Moreover, Lyotard claims that bothancient and modern cultures legitimate themselves by “telling and retellingstories which give cultures purpose and meaning” (Gerlach, 2013). According toLyotard, Postmodernism is a playful engagement with many conflicting micro-narratives.These are alternatives which have been brought out by questioning the actualmeta-narrative (Lyotard, 1985). For Lyotard, dominant power ceases to exist.
However, now there are dominant language-games. Additionally, there is nodominance which political resistance needs to deal with (Bignell, 2000). Lyotard rarely usesmedia examples. However, it can be seen that media culture plays a negativerole within Lyotard’s argument as it states that one of the ways how power legitimatesitself is through the use of the social function of communications technology (Bignell,2000). It does this “by storing, working with and restricting access toinformation.” (Bignell, 2000).
Thus, forLyotard, media culture, specifically computerized communications media areassociated with the modern, not the postmodern “with order and the potentialfor totalitarian control, rather than the diffusion and decentralization ofpower.” (Bignell, 2000). “FredricJameson and Jean Baudrillard, detail the postmodern moment as a new,”schizophrenic” mode of space and time” (Foster, 1983). According toBaudrillard, our era is that of the death of the subject.
Jean Baudrillard is aFrench sociologist and philosopher. He believes that today’s world has beenreplaced by an imitation world in which we only look for simulated stimuli(Zompetti & Moffitt, 2009). Simulation is a recreation, reconstruction orimitation of an event or object. “Simulation threatens the difference between’true’ and ‘false’, between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’.” (Baudrillard, 1981). It isthe process by which reality is taken over, while simulacrum is the conditionproduced, particularly “a system where empty signs refer to themselves andwhere meaning or value are absent” (Sandoz, 2003). We live in a worldof copies, look-alikes, fakes, substitutes, simulations, reconstructions andreplicas. Hyperreality is the concept of being better than reality.
It is theinability to distinguish simulation from reality. Moreover, it is an imitationof simulation or a process. It could be said that it is ‘the authentic fake.’ “Hyper-realismis often spoken of as something that involves images and is assumed to be morereal than real, where the ability to discern the real from the unreal or imagebecomes impossible and in many ways insignificant.” (Parry-Giles, 2007).
Hyperrealisticreproduction involves art, history, and also nature. Hyperreality is astate where the real and fiction are mixed and combined together to the pointthat there is no straight division as to where one ends and where the otherbegins (Tiffin & Terashima, 2001). In hyperreality the imitation oftenbecomes more believable than the real thing (Crystal, 2017). A state ofhyperreality is when “images refer to each other and represent each other asreality.” (Bhattacharya & Hooton, 2010). The reality which existed beforethe image is no longer the only reality we see. For Baudrillard,when media starts to represent reality very closely, they start to incorporate themselvesinto the daily ‘real’ experience, until it is almost impossible to tell betweenthe mediated and the real. Thus, the simulation becomes confused with reality(Sandoz, 2003).
This is what happens on Reality TV. Moreover, Baudrillardstates that contemporary society is organized and maintained by simulation notby political economy (Durham & Kellner, 2016). According to Baudrillard,the world we live in is made up of simulation and hyperreality where thesubject becomes a precession of simulacra.
Baudrillard speaks of a ‘catastropheof modernity’ which he says is what reality, meaning, identity and other moderncategories break down into (Durham & Kellner, 2016). Hyperreality leavescertain effects behind on its audience. Some of the effects are the following.Firstly, hyper-real images may get audiences who start looking up to hyper-realimages and start seeing them as role models, even though the images do notportray real people (Boorstin, 2012). “We lose sight of the men and women whodo not simply seem real because they are famous, but who are famous becausethey are great.” (Boorstin, 2012). Secondly, the audience suffers fromsimulation confusion in which we mistake realistic fakes for what they imitate.Thirdly, content is turned into the realm of experience instead of trying tocommunicate the truth.
Thus, how we are affected by the medium becomes the mainway of explaining things (Sandoz, 2003). Baudrillard believesthat today abstraction does not limit itself to a map or a mirror andsimulation is no longer something which refers to something else. Today societylives with the real without an origin. Simulation no longer reflects beings andappearances and rationality is no longer obligatory. Reality is no longerimitated, duplicated or made a parody of. This is hyperreality.
(Baudrillard,1994). In his essay The City of Robots, Umberto Eco writesthat we create re-creations and themed environments attempting to emerge somethingthat is better than reality, since the real is not enough (Traveling throughhyperreality, n.d.). Eco believes that there is a need to create things whichare more thrilling, more fun, more adrenaline pumping and most of all moreintriguing than the ordinary daily life (Traveling through hyperreality, n.
d.).In his essay, Eco gives his readers a tour of the United States, whilereviewing and mainly criticizing the United States for trying to recreate thereal by evoking images of fake art, nature, history and cities (Travelingthrough hyperreality, n.
d.). He went on a tour of the United States to get a lookfor himself which copies and replicas were being shown in museums and other touristattractions (Eco, 1986). Hismain argument is that these imitations do not simply copy reality, but rather, tryto refine it (Traveling through hyperreality, n.
d.). Thus, what is beingpresented is an even better version of reality, which is in turn entirelyfalse. Eco also discusses Disneyland. He sees it as a fancy place which hidesits real motive, which is to pitch sales. Eco believes that this reflects today’sworld as it seems the same as how businesses try to offer us things which aremade to look better than what is real with the motif of selling things life(Traveling through hyperreality, n.d.).
Moreover, for Eco, Disneyworld andDisneyland are both ‘absolutely fake cities’ due to their recreated castles andmain streets which imitate the real thing, and robots which are made to looklifelike (Traveling through hyperreality, n.d.). He thinks that these themeparks highlight hyperreality perfectly as everything is made to look better andmore amusing than everyday life life (Traveling through hyperreality, n.d.).
.When one goes back to his daily routine, he finds it boring or bleak.Disneyland shows him that Capitalism is also visible in theme parks, where onewould not expect it. Theme parks are hyperrealities which last only until one’smoney does. Thus, reality does not exist in theme parks. This gives people theability to have a temporary ‘out of reality’ experience (Crystal, 2017). Another theme parkwhich is mentioned is Las Vegas. It is the world’s first urban theme park.
Itis also called the city of imitation as it is a place where the world comes toyou. For instance, one does not need to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower orgo to New York to see the Empire State Building. It makes it possible or peopleto live an imitated experience. This postmodern society, particularlyhyperreality, is more common in the Western world, especially in the UnitedStates. Hyperreality has become a much bigger concept due to the rapiddevelopment in technology. Additionally, much of the United States’ economy isbased on providing consumers with deceptive simulations.
In today’s society, business,entertainment, politics and news are important groups, or better yet,hyperrealities, which use simulation to make money and gain power. In our world today,reality is changed in some way or another. The information which we are fed isusually compressed and taken from a certain perspective which showcases aparticular story. Some theorists argue that people are becoming more attachedto the hyperreal world than reality. However, since every year there aremore and more simulations coming up, we are getting better at not falling forthem. A good example of simulations which are fabricated reality is thenews. Even though most ofthe examples which theorists give are within the United States, hyperrealityhappens all around us, even in Malta.
Case in point, Maxine Busuttil writesabout the way mediatic images are hypperreal and deeply influence us and theway youths build their identity (Busuttil, 2013). Busuttil particularly speaksabout the mall and how it is a safe space where youths are allowed to roamaround freely with their friends. However, she also mentions how they are underconstant surveillance due to CCTV. Malls in Malta have not existed for a longtime and thus are still a fairly new concept. While the primary motif of mallsis for consumer purposes, which Ritzer calls ‘cathedrals of consumption’,youths tend to use it more for recreational purposes (Busuttil, 2013). Youths create theirown image out of reconstructions from trying to imitate celebrities, which canbe seen as mediated images at the mall.
According to Baudrillard, our constantrelationship with messages and images rather than with other human beings, haschanged our perception of time and space (Buadrillard, 1988). He believes thatwe live in a world where we are controlled by images and where we relate tofalse things, since there is no longer an origin to real things. The era we areliving in has become one of consumption due to media. Those who go to the mallto look at the latest trends, to fill their desires which they think are basedon reality, are not really based on reality but on false representations whichthey believe to be real. According to Baudrillard, these false representationshave been made believable due to hyperreality (Miles, 1998).
Postmodernist theoristsbelieve that identities are no longer influenced by social factors such as bysocial class, occupation, gender, ethnicity and age. Lyotard speaks about meta-narrativeswhich he says no longer explain the identities people adopt and the differencesbetween them. According to Rojek (1995), we are deliberate to choose whatwe do in our free time, which products we buy and the lifestyles we live.
In conclusion,postmodern writers argue that our society is constantly being controlled bymedia. Thus, the distinction between media and reality, images and the realthing and experiences and simulations of them is not so clear. It could be saidthat media reality is the new reality.
Consequently, postmodern media oftenrejects the traditional idea that art needs to replicate nature and reality andinstead it puts more emphasis on fiction. This makes postmodernism and entirelynew simulation of reality (Lynes, 2013). Lastly, in today’s society, peoplewant to experience hyperreality because it’s better than the actual reality.
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