In De Bord’s “The Society of the Spectacle,” he presents many statements challenging the spectacle and examining how mass production has infiltrated all of society, and urges the end of taking everything we see and hear and read at face value. One of the statements that really caught my eye and stuck with me was “The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”
This statement, combined with the films and clips we watched during Monday’s screening, as well as the news footage of the riots we watched in weeks past, really made me think about the social aspect of the spectacle–specifically, how what we see and hear affects our treatment of those around us, and those around the world. The images we see, be it in the news, on the movie screen, on TV, and especially in commercials, absolutely dictates the kinds of opinions and prejudices we hold. For example, throughout Phil Patiris’ work, the war is repeatedly called “the war on terror,” or other such monikers, immediately labeling our “enemies” as others, deserving of alienation and extermination, all in the name of keeping us safe. Consistently, “the other,” meaning those not like us (see Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’ for more on that), is presented through film and television as a variety of characters, depending on the social, political, and economic climates. During the cold war, it was the Russians. Post 9/11, it becomes the Middle East, despite the fact that the Middle East is made up of a huge variety of not only different countries, but different cultures and rich histories, all of which are erased and lumped together into one idea of “the enemy.”
Our relation to the people around us and all over the country, continent, and the world, is all influenced by the media we are presented. For a lot of us, privileged enough to be able to get the education necessary to see past these superficial representations of people we are supposed to hate and dear, this fact can often be lost–simply through the educational and social bubbles we are surrounded by on a daily basis. How are we to know what kinds of women are beautiful, and what men are handsome? Where can we see the kinds of things we need to buy in order to be happier people? When isn’t the media pushing an agenda on us, often so subliminally and subtle that even the savviest of us are still affected by what we are sold? All of this is just something I started to think about after reading that particular sentence.