Postermodernism, Societal Assumptions and Authenticity

By: Jordan

Postmodernism deals with the question of society and the world in comprehensive terms, “One could say that postmodernism’s central goal is to put all assumptions under scrutiny in order to reveal the values that underlie all systems of thought and thus to question the ideologies within them that are seen as natural. This means that the idea of authenticity is always in question in postmodernism.” (Sturken/Cartwright 313) This is the paragraph that I took the most meaning out of in the entire chapter; it explains the ideas of postmodernism in simple terms.  I personally feel as though our society is all about simulation, reflexivity, intertextuality and pastiche, especially in the couple decades that I have lived in, it seems as though these ideas are only getting more and more prominent.  Simulation seems to be a growing matter in popular culture, especially in America.  I feel as though video games are simulations, and the goals of the video game creators and producers are to make every game more personal and more “realistic”, whether realistic means depicting the situation accurately or making the graphics look real.  This is all to take these people out of their lives for the moment and turn them into some kind of bad ass invincible warrior. (I’m sure I might be offending a number of people with my bashing of video games, no offense intended.)  The discussion about the World Park, just outside of Beijing, is another example of what I feel is a simulation.  It is a realistic, yet unreal, depiction of the many wonders of the world.  The main thing that bothers me about this idea is that there was tons of money spent replicating something that is already there, and it’s not like it’s going to be “better”, because it won’t even be the real thing, and also the fact that in this day in age technology has advanced us so far and traveling is nothing compared to what it used to be, you can drive all across the country thanks to our never ending maps of interstates or you can hop on a plane and be across the country in a day, yet people still feel the need to experience simulations, when the real thing could easily be at your fingertips.  It is just hard to grasp sometimes that our society is in such a comfort zone of technology, finding out things on the web in an instant, text messaging people across the country, we are all just so blinded by technology, which is unfortunate because I do personally feel like it’s a huge step towards progression to have information at our fingertips and to be able to stay in contact with people we care about, I just think that there could be a greater balance.

The ideas of reflexivity, intertextuality and pastiche are all very closely related, it’s all about taking ideas and growing from them, changing them or even making fun of them.  The way I understood reflexivity was a way of distancing “pleasures of the text” from the “structure of the show” and in postmodern pop culture most of the critique has been tempered with humor or is not put in the text.  A pastiche can be compared in many ways to a parody, or a “spoof” in terms of movies.  The idea of a pastiche ties back into the idea of postmodernism questioning authenticity.  To my understanding, the purpose of a pastiche is not to ridicule the piece of pop culture it is modeled after, but to simply be a comparison to try to extract the dominant meanings of the book or movie or piece of art.  Often times humor has to be used to help people understand these ideas being presented. I think often about the shows that we have on television that’s sole purpose is to make fun of everything going on in the realm of popular culture, shows such as South Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons.  These shows all use animation, which seems almost “American” and “innocent”, because it’s a cartoon.  They also use humor to tackle these ideas they make fun of, it’s hard to understand if they do this to make us try and realize how much of a joke our society is, or if it’s to make us realize we take everything to seriously, I guess that is where our own judgment comes into play.

I feel as though the society has just come to a point in which ideas are being eaten up and regurgitated in some other way with maybe a few tweaks, it seems as though not much in this world is very authentic anymore.  It’s all a remade idea or a simulation of what really is “authentic”.  I feel like America experiences these issues more than any other country; it’s hard to find anything very authentic here if you’re looking at popular culture, if you look into each household then, yes, maybe there will be some authenticity, but looking at us as a whole and the way popular culture depicts our society to others makes us look like we are one big ever changing unauthentic sphere.

This  youtube video has highlights of a certain south park episode about World of Warcraft, in relation to my blog post it is an example of a pastiche.  There are one or two somewhat gross parts in the video, just a warning for anyone unfamiliar with the nature of South Park.

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