ˈspɛktək(ə)l/

noun

a visually striking performance or display

an event or scene regarded in terms of its visual impact

“Now the death of God combined with the perfection of the image has brought us to a whole new state of expectation. We are the image.” ~John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards

 

“Magical thinking is the currency not only of celebrity culture, but also of totalitarian culture.” ~Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

Welcome to the spectacle. Or perhaps I should say the kind of spectacle that has become the face of entertainment that pervades our westernized cultures. The way that the spectacle succeeds is that it isn’t so much about fooling us into believing its lies as real, but rather that it is we who ask to be fooled. We seek to suspend our sense of reality, to pursue a space of escape. The spectacle pulls us in because we lend our willingness to its agenda. If we are honest, in this post-truth age, we will admit to living in an age of spectacle. And it is from this that many of us receive our interpretation of reality. Since the middle of the 20th century onwards the ‘western spectacle’ has been in the form of media advertisement and propaganda. We may think that we’ve only recently arrived at the age of the spectacle, where Disneylandification is becoming the norm, and Super Bowls are interspersed with scantily-clad singers, and TV programs appear in the slots between advertisers. Yet the whole spectacle show has been a form of function creep ever since telecommunications first emerged as a social phenomenon. The image has been with humanity since the first dawn of our arising; from cave paintings to hieroglyphics to cuneiform clay tablets. The major difference is that today the spectacle of the image has not only gone global, but it has also gotten inside of our heads.

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