Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Stop Boris! It almost goes without saying

He can't keep his hair out of his eyes.
He can't keep his foot out of his mouth.
He can't keep his **** out of other women.
Just the person to be left in charge of a city as large, powerful, complicated and problematic as London!

This post might not seem to have much to do with reading the media but then hegemony (see the work of Gramsci and Stuart Hall for instance) would be a useful thing to start thinking about Boris with. As would any feminist perspective you could think of (Judith Butler's perhaps).
The approach that most interests me, however, is to consider Boris' participation in our culture of celebrity and what Baudrillard's theories of simulacra & of hyper-reality might tell us about this participation. For Baudrillard simulation - copying - was the key aspect of modern existence because nothing was real and everything was in fact a copy of that which had once been real. The result of this dominance of simulation was the coming into existence of simulacra; simulations that had utterly replaced their now distant and dim originals. Which in turn left us with no access to 'the real' whatsoever. Rather all we can know is the hyper-real; that mediated world of simulacra we can experience through the ubiquitous communication media of our time.
The explosion of the realm of celebrity in our current socio-media world is the perfect example of this. Once celebrity emerged from something else (beauty, notoriety, ability, luck, fortune, etc) and was a property of people. Now celebrity can be manufactured, allocated, and consumed - it is simulated from past models - and has replaced people possessing a particular property with simulacra infused with the simulation of celebrity during the manufacturing process. Celebrities are of course hyper-real as we only know them as media constructs and because of their ubiquity we really do know them. Consider the simularca called 'Jordan' and its counterpart 'Katie Price' and how hyper-real they both are.
Boris then is a simulacra in that he is a simulation of so many duffers and cads from 1950's British cinema (alchemically combined) and our understanding of him is hyper-real in that we know him through the media and only through the media. It may be time to take the red pill, or any other colour, rather than the blue.

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