The Society of Spectacle

The Society of Spectacle

Hi everyone! Today’s video is gonna be a
little bit different than the usual stuff, because it’s not going to be about
TV series but it’s going to be about pop culture. The more I watch YouTube and
mainstream content on YouTube and the more I find it interesting in terms of
how it is packaged and consumed by all of us really. So today I will mix YouTube
with politics and philosophy. So the whole concept of this video started when I watched Tana Mongeau’s – I think that’s how you pronounce it – I should check that,
hold on Let’s so let’s go back. The whole concept
of the video started off when I watched Tana Mongeau’s video about VidCon the
very lengthy one, the rant about VidCon so way before this all Tanacon thing
started and in that video she basically redirected people to a Logan Paul’s video
that she used as a sort of way to validate her points about security at
VidCon. So I went and watched Logan Paul’s video because I thought it was odd
that he experienced the same kind of treatment if you wish since he’s so
influential and I remember he was featured heavily in the YouTube rewind in
2017, and I was appalled by how much he turned his experience into an
entertainment product. He claimed that he had no idea that his
presence would cause such havoc which I have a hard time believing because
despite the recurrent mockery around the Paul’s brothers in that they are not
particularly smart, I do recognize in them a business cleverness – I’m not talking about their content whether you like their content or not – I’m talking about the
fact that they obviously created an image, maintained that image and managed to insert themselves into a popular narrative – so that to be so blindly
unaware of the consequences of his presence I found it hard to believe. But
even if were the case simply apologizing at the end of the video yet
editing it in a way which makes it so grand, makes me feel like he actually
didn’t care at all about what was happening. Which is incredibly similar to
the whole issue of his other video about the suicide forest in Japan. The
problem at least for me mainly wasn’t that he found a dead person, the problem is that how we handled that in post-production and how he packaged that video to appeal to the audience. In that specific situation his fans or any other casual passerby could have been seriously hurt by the stunt that he pulled and obviously
VidCon freaked out because of it and security wasn’t expecting that type of
situation so they didn’t exactly know how to respond at first. And you know if
that would have happened, we all could have easily jump into the bandwagon of
you know this company doesn’t make it safe for their attendees to celebrate
the event. Yet all I could see in the comments for the videos are people
feeling sorry for Logan and for the fact that it was mistreated by security. Now
it’s not news that we have learnt to vent about every single thing, even very
personal ones online especially on YouTube. Some youtubers make this their branding really and I don’t think there is
anything wrong with that per se. However there is a stark difference a level up
if you wish or several levels up into that current methodology and instead the
current mainstream methods of transforming and packaging our
experiences in such an alluring way. Basically we’re all the count being
easily fooled into the spectacular spectacular packaged form of reality
entertainment. How we approach personal problems and how we externalize them instead of internalize them nowadays it has become such a form of entertainment
that it’s astonishing if you think about it. Everything is expected to be turned
into a sensationalized shared feeling. A few months ago I had a death in the
family and my reaction was to get some time alone and trying to process
everything that was happening. Cut to a few weeks later and a few
friends they were shocked that I didn’t share that on social media and I was
shocked that they were expecting me to. I’m sorry this is not a fucking press
release this is my grief we’re talking about. And this is where Guy Debord
and his Society of Spectacle come into focus. Debord has said that Basically the spectacle
is a modern form of existence based on a self-portrait of power and an
interrupted monologue about and within itself. The real world is replaced by a
series of images which succeed at making themselves regarded as the
epitome of reality. As Shortino and Wright point out Although many commentators tend to relate the Society of Spectacle strictly to mass media and or advertising, Debord as stated how
important is the system of social relations. According to this society having is important, but appearing to have is paramount. It’s not surprising then that Debord’s theory strongly relates to capitalism and how the problems that capitalist societies have aimed to solve –
namely scarcity of resources – are now solved yet we still believe in faulty
needs of appropriation continuing to fuel societal relations which have
become obsolete. The spectacle then is why we don’t challenge this status quo. So how does Trump fit into this argument and why have a placed him
alongside Logan Paul into this? Well, politics have become a form of
entertainment in the successful attempt to keep people interested. In this environment of continuous distraction which is the most successful candidate in Love Island? I meant in the run for
presidency? Arguably former reality star Donald Trump is a much more entertaining
character than the so-called robotic Hillary Clinton. True or false becomes irrelevant. Which is the most thrilling narrative? Trump’s tweets are an obvious performance of
entertainment consumed by millions of people and treated as political canon,
although what he posts may be incorrect impractical or downright deceitful.
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in 1883 considered the modern state as
the new Idol, an annihilating system producing lies. Similarly to Debord’s
statement of the spectacle being the opium of the masses – something which in
turn he obviously got from Marx – Nietzsche also believed that social
movements such as what we would classify populism under nowadays, are rooted in
the psychology of resentment. Trump and his followers seem to be an ubiquitous
representation of this. Similarly to the effect fostered in the UK by the Brexit,
Trump and similar leaders have managed to exploit, articulate and mobilize this
resentment packaging it as a gladiator spectacle. We should go back to a state
of higher awareness and consciousness about the state of our current society
and today many of people try to do that through protests which have been and
continue to be obviously extremely important to make changes in our society
yet fail into making a change of society. Debord and the Situationists called
this ‘recuperation’, the way in which the system acknowledges the complaints
of its rebels, yet preserving its structural conditions. Instead in order
to create a true transformation of society and human consciousness, Debord developed the term ‘detournement’ which can be translated from French as
something like rerouting. This practice is also quite often used in humor that
tries to turn the spectacle into itself and that’s why it becomes highly
subversive. Generally, the concept aims at appropriating an existing mediated
popular idea and then repurposing it to create and convey a message which is
critical and or contrary to the original message. For example a detournement is used when slogans and logos representative of a capitalist society are turned against
themselves to challenge the original meaning. Detournement techniques have
been used to convey so-called situationists pranks, and were later implemented in the
punk movement in the late 70s. Detournement also requires a familiarity with the pre-existing image that wishes to
convert, that’s why it needs to be a popular idea. Believe it or not an
example of detournement which can be quite effective are memes. Not all
memes obviously. If we simply convert an image without associating an actual
opposite meaning to it, then we’re simply still reproducing the same image all
over again. However if we modify that image so that we alter its message in a
subversive way, then memes can be a quite effective form of detournement. Memes
can also be a strong form of detournement because as humans we think in images and we subconsciously find familiarity and comfort into images
which were we have already learnt to see. So to conclude I’m not saying that
we should all embark into a catastrophic revolution but we should definitely
learn to at least recognize the spectacle and try our best to disrupting it at
least for our own personal development. From a more capitalist standpoint I would
like to borrow Thomas De Michele’s words when he says From a more abstract standpoint we should try to construct situations which are at
their core authentic experiences, both personally than communally.

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4 thoughts on “The Society of Spectacle”

  • Thank you for another compelling video essay! I stumbled across your channel a few weeks ago and really enjoyed your analyses, so I immediately subscribed. Your analysis of this Age of Spectacle that we currently live in is poignant, and definitely something that we should be recognizing and addressing in our own lives. The bridge you created from social media to politics was also brilliant and seamless. Thank you again for the wonderful content!


    Sorry for the caps lock, but the whole thing is just such a bizarre culmination of everything messed up about the society of the spectacle and you nailed it with all your cutaways.