In previous posts I have mentioned the “hyper-real”. This is a concept of postmodern theorist – Jean Baudrillard. This is where the world becomes ‘more real than real’. Larger than life. Here it is – watch the video:
Information overload! In postmodernism this is the blurring of the lines between human beings and machines, reality and image. This is a world in which reality can be simulated, Xeroxed or copied. This is the society of the spectacle: Jurassic park dinosaurs are more real than real dinosaurs; the shark in Jaws is more real than a real shark; war in video games is more real than real war.
“Blood isn’t really blood until you see it on the screen” (Clockwork Orange.’71)
“Politicians & celebrities become popular for being popular” (Roderick, R. 2009)
This is the world of the advertising slogans where the commodification turns reality into a hyper-reality. This is a world where children learn morality from computer games rather than parents. This is the world of ecstasy. Thrill-seekers thrive in this world.
Where will this lead? For once I offer an ELT worksheet to go with a video:
However, it must be said that Jean Baudrillard is not completely negative about this hyper-real world. Rather, he suggests ‘strategies’ to deal with this world. In this postmodern world of excess productivity and commodification, Baudrillard suggests a renouncing of the Marxist view, in which products are assessed for their use-value and exchange value, and re-introduces the symbolic value of goods as seen in traditional, pre-industrialized societies. Furthermore, he proposes that we should embrace both the symbolic values and their symbols, copying them through creative play to express meaning – just as musicians will copy musical ideas to create their own.
Evidently, there are correlations with TEFL where language learning is a creative play. Role-plays are used for practice by copying and manipulating linguistic structures to create meaning. In the classroom, language is fun to play with – whilst creating meaning.
This is the postmodernism of Jean Baudrillard. Admittedly, in this blog the surface of this subject is barely being scratched. Hopefully, however, it gives some idea of the Jean Baudrillard’s discussion on the ‘hyper-reality’.
Anyone seriously interested in a deeper sociological discussion/lecture – I direct you here.
Phil Newman. 2006.