Spectacular moments of commodity society

Spectacular moments of commodity society
SHARE
THIS



To be fair I don't know that much about modern Hungarian Marxist philosophy.

But I know what I like (bourgeois humour). So, I like what I know.

My route in has been through bits of György Lukács. Lukács is credited as the author of the idea of reification.

For Luk√°cs reification literally translates as the 'objectification'- or 'thing-ification' if you prefer – of social life or social relationships and their subsequently re-expression as relationships between objects rather than people, as characterised by many aspects of what we would describe as 'consumer' culture.

In simple terms, Luk√°cs is describing a process by which the previously 'authentic' experience is transformed and then rendered 'inauthentic' by its incorporation into the totality (the all-pervasive supremacy of the whole over the parts) resulting in alienation.

One of the most quoted descriptions of this kind of alienation is in this passage from Don Delillo’s 1985 novel ‘White Noise’.

White Noise* is widely regarded as a case-in-point post-modern work – if you are familiar with the work then you will appreciate the irony in the knowledge that novelty pseudo-academic intellectualism being a key theme is not lost on this writer 😉

*In a detournement footnote, apparently DeLillo originally wanted to title the book ‘Panasonic’, but the Panasonic Corporation injuncted. Fact fans.

The characters, Jack and Babette Gladney return home from a trip to the supermarket:

'It seemed to me that Babette and I, in the mass and variety of our purchases, in the sheer plenitude those crowded bags suggested, the weight and size and number, the familiar designs and vivid lettering, the giant sizes, the family bargain packs with Day-Glo sale stickers, in the sense of replenishment we felt, the sense of well-being, the security and contentment these products brought to some snug home in our souls – it seemed we had achieved a fullness of being that is not known to people who need less, expect less, who plan their lives around lonely walks in the evening.'

(*Prole note: Upon reading I understood this implicitly and instantly as being the same idea as ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ by the Clash)

The most striking contemporary example of this kind of reification is, of course, Facebook.

And in particular the the notion of Facebook 'friends'.

In which the idea of 'friendship' – an aspect of authentic social life and social relationships – that has, in effect, been 'objectified' and indeed commodified by Facebook.

Indeed, within Facebook we even refer of ourselves in the third person. Eaon shared person x's photo and so on.

The 'friend' product is, of course, at the core of Facebook's business model and monetisation strategy.

We will all be familiar by now with the point that; in the Facebook environment it is the user (or 'friend') that is the product for sale.

Facebook sells the product (and its data by-products) to advertisers, and then re-packages it up and then sells it back to us as the social experience.

The cycle is complete – and gets completely spectacular – when we understand that this idea of the Facebook friend is not only reduced to reified commodity but is also now increasingly becoming the way we understand the nature of authentic friendship, to a degree.

Whereas that fact might have been spectacular enough in 2011, today we can see other 'possibilities' around further objectification afforded by the next wave of mass media technologies.

In particular the likes of Google Glass and other augmented reality technologies. 

But first, keen eyed readers will note that I've semi-referenced Debord's ‘Society of The Spectacle’ in this note.

Among the many descriptions of the Spectacle the following is perhaps the most key to this discussion.

'The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification.

As a part of society, it is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges.

Being isolated and precisely for that reason this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation.

The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.'

Obviously my novelty pseudo-academic intellectualism finds the synonym connecting The Spec-tacle and then Google Glass, the almost uber-mediator of social relationship by images, ironic and funny.

Let's read that again.

'The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification'.

That Facebook/Spectacle analogy is one I picked up from journalist John Harris <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/30/guy-debord-society-spectacle> who also notes:

'[Debord] is talking about alienation, the commodification of almost every aspect of life and the profound social sea-change whereby any notion of the authentic becomes almost impossible'.

To end this note, perhaps the inevitability of Google Glass – and augmented reality as a mass media proposition (ie spectacle) – is one in which it usurps (or indeed incorporates) Facebook as 'the invasive force of the 'spectacle'.

There is the possibility that Google Glass actually takes the idea of the Spectacle as ‘social relation between people mediated by images’ to new levels of alienation in the guise of authentic social life.

Both Luk√°cs and Debord would possibly note that these new social(sic) technologies that are presented and accepted as a social innovations that allow the users to better participate in the world, are just as easily described as reification mechanisms designed to reinforce the spectacle of pseudo-communication producing not connection but only further alienation.

To be continued…

(I imagine my membership to social media club is being rebuked as we speak).

Eaon Pritchard is head of strategy at Sputnik Agency Australia

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Image lead story UnLtd’s ‘Big Clash’ Raises Over $120K, With Media Owners & Media Agencies Crowned Champions
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

UnLtd’s ‘Big Clash’ Raises Over $120K, With Media Owners & Media Agencies Crowned Champions

With over 50 companies taking part, the fourth annual Big Clash cricket tournament has been the biggest yet, raising $124,000. The event once again brought the industry together for a great afternoon of cricket, drinks, music, and charity activations. This year, the event was expanded to have Media Owners, Media Agencies, Techies and Creatives all […]

SCA’s Profit Drops 21% Due To “Years Of Heavy Lifting”
  • Media

SCA’s Profit Drops 21% Due To “Years Of Heavy Lifting”

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has experienced a negative first half of the 2018 financial year, posting a dramatic drop in overall profit and a slight drop in revenue. The group’s net profit after tax fell 21.2 per cent to $48.5 million in the six months to 31 December 2017 (compared to the previous corresponding period), […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Lord Of The Fries Pays Homage To Kanye West & Kendrick Lamar In Clever Ads Via Milkman
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Lord Of The Fries Pays Homage To Kanye West & Kendrick Lamar In Clever Ads Via Milkman

Creative digital agency Milkman has helped Lord of the Fries (LOTF) pay homage to two of the fast food outlet’s favourite artists through a series of clever art poster adverts. Milkman re-created the latest album covers of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar with a LOTR vibe to highlight the brand’s hip-hop roots and its favourite albums […]

Keep Left Wins PR Account For Greening Australia
  • Marketing

Keep Left Wins PR Account For Greening Australia

PR and content marketing agency Keep Left has been selected by proactive conservation organisation Greening Australia to raise public awareness of its flagship programs and national footprint. The relationship began in 2017 when Greening Australia engaged Keep Left in support of Reef Aid, a project launched with corporate partner Virgin Australia to improve water quality […]

Now Screen Repositions Organic Care Brand With New Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Now Screen Repositions Organic Care Brand With New Campaign

Aussie agency Now Screen has teamed up with Organic Care to reposition the brand in what has become one of the most competitive FMCG spaces. The new campaign, ‘Caring Comes Naturally’, celebrates what Organic Care has created since its inception: products that are as good for your body as they are for the environment. In […]

Can You Speak Data?
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Can You Speak Data?

We're certainly fluent in gibberish, balderdash and claptrap here at B&T, but sadly data isn't part of the lexicon.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Social Change Maker Profile: Emma Heath
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Social Change Maker Profile: Emma Heath

B&T has partnered with UnLtd to showcase industry heroes! Well, it's arguably more heroine in the case of Emma Heath.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Ad Fraud: A Problem We Can Solve
  • Advertising
  • Opinion
  • Technology

Ad Fraud: A Problem We Can Solve

Unlike B&T's mystery office farter, this columnist argues ad fraud is a problem that can possibly be solved.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Why We Pivoted Our ‘Specialist’ Agency Five Times In 15 Years
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Why We Pivoted Our ‘Specialist’ Agency Five Times In 15 Years

In this opinion piece, Gavin McDonough (pictured above, co-founder and managing partner of Urban, shares through his own experience some valuable advice for independent specialist agencies. In November 2017, my brother Ryan and I celebrated 15 years in business. We started business out of my front room in Melbourne in 2002 – not with any grand […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
W+K’s Susan Hoffman Chosen As 39th AWARD Awards Chair Of Judges
  • Advertising

W+K’s Susan Hoffman Chosen As 39th AWARD Awards Chair Of Judges

Susan Hoffman, co-chief creative officer at Wieden+Kennedy (W+K), has been appointed chair of judges for the 39th AWARD Awards. Known to challenge the status quo, Hoffman is behind some of W+K’s most memorable and game-changing ads, including Nike’s ‘Revolution’, Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ and Chrysler’s Super Bowl spots starring Eminem and Clint […]

Experiential Agency Kreate Gets Bought Out By Staffers
  • Marketing

Experiential Agency Kreate Gets Bought Out By Staffers

Leading experiential marketing agency, Kreate Australia is embarking on an exciting growth strategy following its purchase by three of the agency’s existing management team from its UK founder, Steve Evans.

Hurry! B&T 30 Under 30 Entries Closing Friday!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Hurry! B&T 30 Under 30 Entries Closing Friday!

This is a clarion call for B&T 30 Under 30 entries, although it's probably more mariachi band than angelic harbinger.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Hit Network Chooses Comedian Tanya Hennessy To Host Weekend Breakfast
  • Media

The Hit Network Chooses Comedian Tanya Hennessy To Host Weekend Breakfast

Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network has announced that rising radio star and comedian Tanya Hennessy will take over hosting duties for its weekend breakfast slot in 2018. Hennessy will bring content to the airwaves each Saturday and Sunday morning from 7am to 9am with a regular rotation of guest co-hosts. The self-described talker, not walker […]

Straight Up PR Wins Five New Clients
  • Marketing

Straight Up PR Wins Five New Clients

Health, wellbeing and lifestyle PR agency Straight Up PR has welcomed Changing Habits, Unichi Wellness, enerGi, SleepX, and Healthie Hampers to its client portfolio. Straight Up PR’s projects will include bespoke PR services and influencer marketing packages specifically focusing on communications strategy and execution, media and influencer relations, PR launch events, product seeding and gifting, […]

March One Creates ‘Cheese For Change’ Fundraising Campaign For White Ribbon Australia
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

March One Creates ‘Cheese For Change’ Fundraising Campaign For White Ribbon Australia

Independent creative agency March One has developed a new fundraising event for White Ribbon Australia that turns a social moment into a social movement. Starting on Thursday 22 March and going until Sunday 25 March, Cheese for Change will ask Aussies to create a cheese platter that matters by gathering friends, family or co-workers together […]

Sixth Annual IGN Select Awards Winners Announced
  • Marketing

Sixth Annual IGN Select Awards Winners Announced

The winners of IGN Australia’s sixth annual Select Awards were revealed during a huge special event at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney on Friday, February 16. Some 225 Media & Game Publishers alongside 320 IGN Community Gamers attended the annual event. 2017 was absolutely crammed with terrific games and several categories were extremely tightly-contested. The top […]

Meet Your Mentors For B&T Bootcamp 2018!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Meet Your Mentors For B&T Bootcamp 2018!

When it comes to an industry "who's who", you'll find there won't be too much who-ing with this impressionable lot.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
ANZ Unveils Its 2018 GAYTMs
  • Marketing

ANZ Unveils Its 2018 GAYTMs

Mardi Gras is only weeks away and B&T has already hoisted the mirror ball and donned the hotpants to bring you this.