Posted: January 6th, 2023
Baudrillard hyperreality essay
To what extent do we live in hyper-reality? Draw on Baudrillard’s Simulations and use examples from the internet and social media to provide your answer.
Do we live in a hyper-real world? This is one of the most debated questions in many places across the globe. To begin answering this question or this discussion it would be paramount to define hyperreality. Baudrillard, for instance, argues that hyperreality is some form of social reality whereby reality is simulated or created from models, or even defined by reference to the said models. In other words, it is some form of reality that is generated from ideas. Baudrillard is not alone. Other scholars such as Umbreto Eco assert that hyperreality is some form of “authentic fake” with another scholar known as Peter Sparrow arguing that hyperreality is the “virtual irreality”. In philosophy, reality is known as the state of things that actually exists, as opposed to how they may appear or might be imagined by different people across the globe. However, by the look of things, it appears that the real is being replaced by the not so real at unimaginable speeds. Baudrillard hyperreality essay The pace at which virtual images are adopted and subsequently embraced by the media and the movie industry is an indication that human beings are slowly but surely moving towards a hyper-reality. So what exactly do all the above definitions mean? And do we live in a hyper-real world? This article offers deep insight into this question, especially by making references or drawing on Baudrillard simulations.
Jean Baudrillard: Short Autobiography
Jean Baudrillard lived from 1929 to 2007. He was a French Philosopher in addition to being a cultural analyst starting his academic life as a Marxist sociologist and deeply interested in the consumer society. He is regarded as one of the most controversial philosophers whose main ideas and concepts have for long been used to comprehend the effect of living in a postmodern environment that is with us today. His main argument was that as of today, we live in a world of simulations characterized by a distorted sense of reality or hyperreality as he referred it to.
It was during the 1980s and 90s that Baudrillard moved or rather turned away significantly from structuralism and Marxism to post-structuralism. He somehow transformed to become the high priest of postmodern culture. Baudrillard seem fascinated by how the media has affected the perception of people’s reality and the world. In his conclusions, he argued that the postmodern media-laden condition, people experience something he referred to as “the death of the real”. He argued that as of today, human beings live their lives in the realm of hyperreality, connecting or finding a relationship more and more to deeply things such as music videos, television sitcoms, virtual reality games, Disneyland, or simply things that merely copy or tend to simulate reality. So, was Baudrillard right in his assertions that we live in a hyper-real world? Baudrillard hyperreality essay By looking or closely examining current trends, it seems that Baudrillard was right in his arguments that individuals are living in hyper-reality, especially in this modern age of ours.
The World As We Know It
Looking at latest trends happening today, it is undoubtedly right that to some extent, human beings are gravitating towards hyper-reality. Baudrillard suggests that the media can now go ahead and create a number of idealistic representations of reality that are turning out or outperforming actual reality. A closer examination of this statement reveals that a significant percentage of what the media is engaged with lately is outperforming reality through the creation of idealistic representations. The media is not alone. A lot of the movies we see today seem to be blurring reality and so are television sitcoms just to mention but a few.
Today, nearly everywhere we go, we seem to be bombarded with a whole lot of images, adverts and logos that are all geared towards conveying a message to us, making attempts to appeal to a certain side of human beings. According to Baudrillard, a significant percentage of such images blur both reality and imagination, incorporating or bringing forth a world mixed of the two. For example, a visit to the city of Las Vegas is highly likely to leave one fascinated but utterly confused at the same time. If one gets a chance of visiting the Venetian Resort, he or she will most likely understand why reality seem to be blurred based on the fact that the Venetian Resort, is a hotel that imitates the Italian city of Venice, to the extent of Venice’s famous canals becoming some of the Resort’s main artificial features. This is an apt example of hyperreality that is here with us today Baudrillard hyperreality essay.
Jean Baudrillard postulated that as of today, human beings live in a world of simulations and some form of artificialness. He goes on to say that the impacts or effects of living in a world characterized by simulations and artificialness are a distorted sense of the real things. Baudrillard, in his book, ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ also took Disneyland arguing it becomes a perfect world where chances of dreams becoming reality is high and therefore by indulging ourselves in this imaginary world, human beings are able to escape the realities that are present in the real world. As noted earlier, Baudrillard is known to have been a controversial figure. In one of his writings titled, ‘The Gulf War did not take place’ Baudrillard suggests that the media did set the agenda on the narrative war- arguing that the war which many did see on TV failed to match the real events.
Baudrillard does not stop there. He goes on and on to try and prove that the world is embracing nearly all aspects of hyperreality at unprecedented speeds. To him, reality has somehow transformed to become a cybernetic game that was left behind, with individuals failing to notice it until now. As of now, it seems hard deducing former reality from hyperreality, and majority of people would fail to notice if reality returns. It must be noted that Baudrillard does not suggest when this loss happened, though it can be deduced fairly easy from his work.
In hyperreality, as propounded by Baudrillard, simulators work on making reality coincide with their models of simulation resulting in something unreal. For instance, looking at production, one can simply attest that it is now primarily virtual made of unreal circulation of values. Movies and television sitcoms consist of a larger percentage of what can be termed as hyper-reality content or material that does not represent any form of reality at all.
Going back to the onset of Baudrillard “postmodern” phase, Baudrillard begins one of his important essays also known as ‘The Precession of Simulacra’ by recounting the feat of the initial map-makers in a story by Luis Borge who made a map so detailed and large that it covered the whole empire, that existed in a one-to-one relationship with the underlying territory. Baudrillard hyperreality essay The map designed is a perfect replica of the empire. However, after a while, the map begins showing some signs of fray and tatters with the citizens of the empire beginning to mourn its loss. As it appears, by designing a new replica of the map, Baudrillard asserts that the real or initial territory has turned into what he terms as, ‘desert of the real.’ In other words, in the maps’ place, a simulation or rather simulacrum of reality has taken place and the frayed mega-map is all that is left behind.
Closely related to the above, it is important to note that the term ‘simulacrum’ as used by Baudrillard dates back to Plato, who used the term to describe a false copy or identification of something. Baudrillard has gone ahead and built his whole post 1970s theory or beliefs of media effects and cultural aspects around his own notion or beliefs of the simulacrum. According to him, a postmodern culture that is dominated by increased social media use, films, TVs, and the internet has led to the destruction of real things. All that is left are simulations of real things, which by examining them closely are not anymore less ‘real’ than the type of reality they simulate.
As Baudrillard puts it, in our culture, individuals take “maps” of things that appear real such as films and television among others as more real as opposed to the actual lives that people live in. Baudrillard seem saddened by the fact that that television “friends” such as sit-com characters seem more real or alive to the larger population as opposed to their flesh-and-blood equivalents. This is even made more real based on the fact that a lot of individuals are lately communicating via e-mail or other social media sites, a trend that is not short of encouraging acts of simulation.
It is at this juncture that Baudrillard later philosophy of culture seem to have been mapped in terms of three important aspects: first, the orders of simulacra, image phases, and the three phases of utopian and aspects of science fiction writing that he regarded to be corresponding to the three phases and orders.
First, on grounds or aspects of the orders of simulacra Baudrillard argues that there is the symbolic order, the first, second and third order. Under the symbolic order, the society is organized as more of a fixed system of signs that are distributed based on rank and obligation. Here, the question of reality does not arise as the meanings of signs are already established in advance by the creator. Under the first order, a competition for the meaning of signs begins with simulacra working on restoring the ideal image of nature.
The second order of simulacra is characterized by mass production of replicas or copies of a single prototype. Reproduced things are more of the real as their prototypes with achiness mainly used. Lastly, the third order of simulacra is more of the present age that is dominated by a significant number of simulations or things that lack originality or prototype. This is an era characterized by instances of genetic engineering, virtual reality, computers, and opinion polls just to mention but a few.
Apart from the orders of the simulacra, there are the Phases of the Image, characterized by aspects of art. First, art reflects a basic reality such as gothic paintings depicting the birth of Jesus, replete with signs of divinity. Secondly, art makes and seem to pervert a basic reality, such as baroque paintings of an impossibly beautiful Jesus making his ascension to heaven, just like Superman. Here, art seems to display or marks the absence of reality at all. In fact, according to Baudrillard, art bears no relations to aspects of reality at all. He provides an example of virtual reality female reading head news lines to the larger population? Is that fake or real? This question seems to have lost meaning completely.
Lastly, Baudrillard addresses the subject of utopias and science fiction arguing that there is no need of promoting science fiction or writing. According to him, the utopian order is in existence here and now. Moreover, he argues that utopias should not be given a chance incase people desire for reality arguing that if people got everything right, then life would be beautiful. Third, Baudrillard argues that as of now, the classic science-fiction of the age of mass production such as robots that are made to explore mars, alien invasion, space exploration, and intergalactic wars among others are here with us, thereby distorting reality.
Lastly, Baudrillard argues that the end of science fiction, whereby the real is absorbed into hyperreal and cybernetic world is taking place. However, in short, Baudrillard claims that as of now, human beings are living in “desert of the real,” or more of a cultural space where aspects of film, television, and computer images are taken or perceived as more “real” as opposed to the non-media physical reality that surrounds human beings. According to him, this loss of the real things or reality is not so difficult to comprehend, even if it seems difficult for us to accept it. Jean Baudrillard ideas depict themselves through three related ideas mentioned below.
Fascination and fashion
According to Baudrillard, nearly all spheres tend to be directed towards the model of fashion and the communication of signs. To him, fashion is the absorption of past signs in the same manner machines absorb past labor. According to him, the consumption of nearly all forms of fashion draws on the endless revival of past cultural forms as empty signs. Fashion is more attractive or beautiful than what is beautiful, since the model is truer than the true. It is for this reason that Baudrillard terms them as fascinating based on the fact that they result in giving rise to a particular ecstatic experience that arises from their excesses.
Baudrillard argues that such fascinating images tend to deter the true and real things or images. Information in the age of the internet, for instance, is ecstatic based on the fact that there is a lot of it out there. Nearly all forms of cultural media are being absorbed into advertising, meaning that there is some triumph of form as opposed to substance. The manner in which things are presented is such that the surface effaces and subsequently covers up any likelihood of a possible depth. According to Baudrillard, advertising tends to destroy intensities while accelerating some form of inertia.
Simulations of reality are all around. It is evident in the current cultural condition of consumerism where the reliance of sign value is of high importance. For example, the Levi or Rolex watches may be perceived as being fashionable and an indication of a person’s wealth respectively. However, it should not be forgotten that the jeans and the watch itself are objects of little value, but rather a huge status symbol associated with them is how human beings derive value. Through the advertisement of different brands, people’s consciousness is somehow tricked into believing that additional value needs to be accorded based on the simulation of reality that certain goods or products have been associated Baudrillard hyperreality essay.
According to Baudrillard, there comes a time when power tends to occupy empty places of power, thereby appearing obscene, ridiculous and impure, eventually resulting into some form of collapse. This, according to Baudrillard, is implosion. Here, he sees the whole system coming crushing down from within. Here, the system seems to be no longer expanding and collapsing in upon itself based on the fact that it has reached its culmination point. The increasing density of simulations is destroying the system and implosion is swallowing all the energy of the real.
Implosion comes about from the destruction of reality-effect and meaning based on the procession of simulacra. The biggest problem here is that signs require a separate reality for it to refer to something, thereby functioning as signs. In the modern regime of simulation that we have, Baudrillard argues that social realities are generated from signs and a couple of models that precede them. This model creates the “real”, the message and the medium all at once. Therefore, reality separate from the regime is either denied, destroyed, eventually incorporated. This make the signs to stop making reference to anything thereby creating a total system of meaning, with its meaningfulness destroyed.
According to Baudrillard, the same issue applies or is happening with all aspects ranging from politics, art, and fashion with the problem being structural in nature. Baudrillard hyperreality essay Once the system has reached its saturation point, it begins crumbling on itself leading to some form of inertia. According to Baudrillard, global cities are slowly crumbling, eating past social meanings and phenomena. To him, they are entire functional zones that are arranged around sites such as massive supermarkets, transport networks, and shopping centres.
Functions of the media
Baudrillard portrays the media as playing a number of roles. To him, the media juxtaposes disorder and some form of disaster as shown in most TV shows ranging from action films, police-camera-reality-shows, dramas, and documentaries among others, to the system’s ideal of order that are shown in adverts that come in between.
The media also inject individuals with some sort of mediated violence that keeps fatality at bay through displaying its signs. Baudrillard asserts that this vaccine covers up the real fragility of consumerism. In short, the media works toward distorting the reality and presenting some form of fiction or unreal spectacle. Media technologies, according to Baudrillard, alter how readers and viewers think. Both the viewers and readers are made to unconsciously decode stories, thereby internalizing the codes that are far away from realities.
The media represents a simulation of an artificial and hyperreal world. A significant number of audiences read the hyperreal representations as reality with Baudrillard arguing that through the media and social sites, what is real is distorted to the extent of creating some form of magical communication devoid of real issues or happenings.
According to Baudrillard, we live in a hyper-real world. Based on what is happening today where simulations of things that are real are slowly becoming more authentic making individuals it difficult to distinguish what is real and what is unreal, it is undeniable that we are living in a hyper-real society. Looking at media content, movies, and television sitcoms, it is evident that reality is being replaced by hyper-real or the not so real context. As mentioned earlier, real life examples of this can be drawn by looking at the concept of meditated reality that is attempting to take over and subsequently alter an individual’s view of reality through the use of latest technologies such as computers and other technological equipments that have been invented. In fact, as mentioned earlier through the Disneyland example, it is apparent that interactive technology is being used to or may allow individuals alter their surrounding landscape in a manner that it appears more living. As Baudrillard puts it, simulations are taking shape with a distortion of reality being the main issue adopted by a lot of media companies and other entertainment sites. Simulated versions bring more value and meaning to us than the original and this is the reason as to why Baudrillard asserts that we live in a hyper-reality society Baudrillard hyperreality essay.
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