HYPERREALITY, CONSUMERISM, AND THE COMMODIFICATION OF EVERYTHING
a course about 'reality' and how business, advertising and media affect our notions of it
In January of 2005 we did recognizance research in Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park, and Hollywood,
in hopes of creating a class soon to help students think about the way business often creates alternate realities both intentionally and inadvertently through
media persuasion, market-world construction, brand-marketing, internet alternatives, and other means (the strange worlds of casinos, etc)
Business is not an institution, but is the dynamic multifaceted conglomeration of multiple
heterogeneus interests pursuing profit through product or service distribution. In its wake, 'business' has a profound impact
on the ways we think the goals we pursue, the 'norms' we consider normal, and also helps direct our interests and so, inadvertently,
directs us away from particular values, goals and interests. Insofar as business does this, business helps construct our culture and our lives.
The Purpose of this course is to help us think about the ways in which business creates alternate realities through media and advertising,
and how these affect our society, values, and purpose for living. The class would travel west by airplane, to Las Vegas,
then drive to the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Park,Then we will head for Hollywood, Disneyland, and Beverly Hills,
eventually travelling back to Las Vegas..
"A society which allows an abominable event to burgeon from its dung heap and grow on its surface is like a man
who lets a fly crawl unheeded across his face or saliva dribble from his mouth - either epileptic or dead."
In the construction of Immortal Fame you need first of all a
-- Umberto Eco "Travels in Hyperreality" (1975)
"If everything on television is, without exception, part of a low-calorie (or even no-calorie) diet, then what good is it
complaining about the adverts?By their worthlessness, they at least help to make the programmes around them
seem of a higher level." --Jean
You will visit and see new places
No doubt you will meet interesting new people:
We will also spend time in the desert, on a technology fast at Joshua Tree National Park, while reading and talking
We will also consider the failed attempt at a utopia-creation: the SALTON SEA:
"Santa Barbara is a paradise; Disneyland is a paradise; the U.S. is a paradise. Paradise is just paradise.
Mournful, monotonous, and superficial though it may be, it is paradise. There is no other." --Jean Baudrillard
How have TV and Media affected our culture? How has it been helpful? How has it been harmful?
Merchants of Cool
"20th century advertising is the most powerful and sustained system of propaganda in human history
and its cumulative cultural effects, unless quickly checked, will be responsible
for destroying the world as we know it. As it achieves this it will be responsible for the deaths
of hundreds of thousands of non-western peoples and will prevent the peoples of the world
from achieving true happiness. Simply stated, our survival as a species is dependent
upon minimizing the threat from advertising and the commercial culture that has spawned it."
Advertising at the edge of the apocalypse
How have virtual realities, hyperrealities, media and marketing realities affected REALITY and
our perception of our daily lives, our values, and our desired goals?
"There is no more disturbing consequence of the electronic and graphic revolution than this:
that the world as given to us through television seems natural, not bizarre.
For the loss of the sense of the strange is a sign of adjustment,
and the extent to which we have adjusted is a measure of the extent to which we have changed.
Our culture's adjustment to the epistemology of television is by now almost complete;
we have so thoroughly accepted its definitions of truth, knowledge and reality that irrelevance
seems to us to be filled with import, and incoherence seems
--Neil Postman"Amusing Ourselves to Death" Chapter 5
This course could change you and your perspective for the rest of your life,
so be careful.
For more info, or if you've got some suggestions for this class, contact andy gustafson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tentative Syllabus for Course