In the Glow and Glam of the Spectacle

Everywhere we turn, a Madison Avenue cocktail for the senses. It’s all around us: endless repetition and hypnotic pulsation lulling us into an intoxicating spell until we surrender to its inevitability. How might we disrupt, counter, and break this fantastic illusion?

We turn to Guy Dubord, founder of the French Situationist movement and author of the revolutionary treatise, The Society of the Spectacle, who wrote: “The main goal of the ideology of the ruling class is thus to sow confusion.” Debord was saying that through the narcosis of the spectacle, the ruling class lulls the masses into pleasureful submission: ads, political campaigns, cable news, billboards, sports, fashion, you name it. It’s all around us. Glitz and glam everywhere we turn.

The Situationist revolution introduced the radical new idea that it is the role of the artist to divert the spectacle towards the empowerment of the individual. Yes divert, or détournement as they called it in Paris. It was not the creation of mere objects, paintings, sculptures, and other aesthetic retinal pleasures that would change the world (they utterly despised the artworld). It was the appropriation and transformation of mass media and the subsequent critique of seduction and disinformation. They declared the remix a new political medium and a call to action! it was the transformation of the urban experience via collage, performance, political organization, demonstrations, and other forms of suversion. It was the altering of the psychological landscape of everyday life that they searched for: breaking the spell of the spectacle by turning the spectacle on its head. They often failed, but they generally turned minds. Their ideas permeate our contemporary culture, most obviously the Occupy Movement that has attempted to alter the political status quo through the disruption of the urban environment.

If Debord’s ruling class is now the 1%, what can we do today? How can we break the grip of corporate money and the inevitable onslaught of disinformation. While our democracy slowly recedes into a distant memory what is there to do? Stay tuned: this and more on The Post Reality Show: TALK MEDIA! Without a sponsor, beholden to no one, and a studio broadcasting to the world, now that’s power!