Sunday, June 01, 2008

Post-Modernism in Action

Am I the only one out there who thinks that this ridiculously long Democratic primary season closely resembles a movie? This election cycle reminds me of a film about Democracy: some sort of bizarre combination of Bulworth, Network, Hoosiers, Primary Colors, and Wag the Dog. Those are just the first few examples that come to mind off-hand; I'm sure there are many others that would fit the bill.

When a Presidential candidate makes a reference to her own parody on Saturday Night Live, tries to corral it to win votes, then finds the very same program once so staunchly in her corner totally slamming her a few weeks later, it is clear-cut evidence of the way we have evolved in the twenty-first century.

Political candidates, according to the conventional wisdom, are not supposed to use their own satirical portrayal to aid them on the campaign trail. However, this election has slaughtered several sacred cows and may continue to do so.



Some argue we have entered a period of late capitalism, whereby there truly is nothing new under the sun and our economic system is on its way out---on a path to a slow burn-out, like the destruction of a star.

In 2006 the British scholar Alan Kirby formulated an entirely pessimistic socio-cultural assessment of post-postmodernism that he calls "pseudo-modernism."[17] Kirby associates pseudo-modernism with the triteness and shallowness resulting from the instantaneous, direct, and superficial participation in culture made possible by the internet, mobile phones, interactive television and similar means: "In pseudo-modernism one phones, clicks, presses, surfs, chooses, moves, downloads."[10] Pseudo-modernism’s "typical intellectual states" are furthermore described as being "ignorance, fanaticism and anxiety" and it is said to produce a "trance-like state" in those participating in it. The net result of this media-induced shallowness and instantaneous participation in trivial events is a "silent autism" superseding "the neurosis of modernism and the narcissism of postmodernism." Kirby sees no aesthetically valuable works coming out of "pseudo-modernism." As examples of its triteness he cites reality TV, interactive news programs, "the drivel found [...] on some Wikipedia pages," docu-soaps, and the essayistic cinema of Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock.[11]



Obama's campaign appeals to the part of us who love to champion the underdog. How interesting it is that while we Americans love to champion the underdog, we almost always go home with the winner. But this time around, the underdog has become the winner.

It's absolutely thrilling to see a thing like this: the Cinderella story personified. It appeals to the romantic in all of us. Clinton tries to bill herself as Rocky, but if anyone should lay claim to that title, it's Obama.

Underpinning any rags-to-riches, Cinderella story is the societal assumption that although it would be nice to see it in action, this sort of thing never happens. Not so. These sorts of things do happen, but they happen quite rarely. Obama's rise to power is the classic feel-good story and Clintonian drama aside, when Barack declares victory in the Democratic race, I will allow myself the ability to bask in the optimistic glow of his ascent to power.

1 comment:

Westcoast Walker said...

Great & thoughtful posting!

A good example of the absurdities of "pseudo-modernism" can be found in George A Romero's latest film "Diary of The Dead". During the early stages of a zombie apocalypse there is one character who is obsessed with filming it and documenting it, meanwhile his friends are gradually mutulated and killed, and yet it doesn't seem real to him unless he can see it through a camera or watch other people's experience of it online.

Basically he has no capacity to relate to a very real and visceral threat that surrounds him and lives constantly removed from actual reality. Anyways, I thought it was an interesting parallel after reading your posting.