Sport was vicarious violence for the masses. Reality TV had morphed into cruelty, envy, spite and group hate.
The Hunger Games was a dystopian fantasy-thriller on this theme, taking place in a world of circuses and fast food.
Mass culture was steeped in Pop Idol, American Idol and all the other reality shows.
Young proles were ritually exposed, humiliated or capriciously promoted to head-spinning, five-minute fame.
The Hunger Games reflected a form of post-ironic accommodation. It was an attempt at satire but soon became a spectacle for the bourgeoisie.
The vicious use of instant celebrity status to oppress and dull the public wasn’t presented with distancing black comedy.
The humiliation of failure on a real reality show was mortifying. The contestants’ ordinariness made their aspirations painful to watch.
Their dignity levels plunged below zero as they were egged on by producers to be increasingly outrageous.
It was cheap spectacle, exploiting a desperate need in most people to stand out, be noticed. Reality TV represented the last gasp of individualism.
Stimulus: Whipping up hatred is one of the conditioning techniques used by the capitalist media in Western countries.
It’s cathartic, relieving us of repressed anger towards inequality and exploitation.
These hate objects range from so-called dictators in developing countries to homegrown ones like immigrants, homosexuals and paedophiles.
There’s a reason for demonizing difference. It’s social manipulation, a form of brainwashing. The media create these hate rallies [spectacles] to distract us.
Response 1: In our capacity as writers and artists we reveal the negativity of the ‘society of the spectacle’ as Debord called it.
Response 2: Why pick out paedophiles? Homosexuals were seen in the same light 60 years ago.
Immigrants have always been demonized. Recent media paedophile hysteria is a perfect example of a spectacle.
Members of the Frankfurt School coined the term mass culture to indicate that a bogus culture was constantly being manufactured by a newly emerged culture industry (publishing houses, the movie industry, the record industry, electronic media).
The rise of this industry meant that artistic excellence was displaced by sales figures as a measure of worth.
A novel was judged on whether it was a best-seller, music succumbed to top-twenty charts and films were admired for their box-office returns.
The artistic merit defining the vanguardist was abandoned and sales increasingly became the measure and justification of everything. Consumer culture now ruled.
The term “avant-garde” has been appropriated and misapplied by various sectors of the culture industry since the 1960s.
It’s been used as a marketing tool to publicise popular music and commercial cinema. It’s now common to describe successful rock musicians and celebrated film-makers as avant-garde, stripping the word of its proper meaning.
All cultural products, including people, have become commodities with little or no meaning. The culture industry is so vacuous it leads to the belief that the individual’s an illusion, manipulated by figures of authority in the dominant class.
We will liberate ourselves through the creation of open-ended, participatory situations.
We will develop a critique of the global spectacle-commodity system.
We will reject all morality and legal restraint
We will fight for the abolition of work, total subversion and a permanent worldwide revolution with unrestrained pleasure as its only goal.
By the start of the 21st century US presidential elections had become the supreme bourgeois myth.
They sold “democracy”, called military invasion “humanitarian intervention” and justified drone attacks to “combat terrorism”.
This was the spectacle of democracy, one that every four years renewed a pact with US imperialism and gave it the moral audacity to impose its will on the world.
This was the spectacle of a presidential election. Like Roland Barthe’s bottle of wine selling health and happiness, it sold “freedom and democracy”.
As the biggest spectacle of American politics, the presidential election looked increasingly like a massive commercial, spread over a year or more and given blanket coverage by the capitalist media.
It was the commodification of democracy. Always ‘new and improved’, it had become a glorified soap opera. This surreal show, this exercise in lies and illusions, was near its end.