What is Spectacle?

Google definition: “visually striking performance or display”

Debord Definition:

  • Consumption over active participation
  • Something you watch
  • Designed to keep you quiet/ satisfied
  • Impressive
  • Transports you in some way- -takes us away from our ordinary lives
  • Illusion of participation- its not real- its mediated and constructed

Sometimes the spectacle is something we know is false- e.g. wrestling- we know the match is fixed but we still engage

“The virtue of all in wrestling is that it is the spectacle of excess” -Roland Barthes

“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all life presents as an immense accumulation of spectacle. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation” – Debord

“Celebrity culture and its portrayal of lives whose freedom and dazzle suggest almost the opposite of life as most of us actually live it” -Harris 2012

We become complacent in the illusion.

In football, we participate by booing, cheering.

Purely spectacular rebellion- revolution

Dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity

“As specialists of apparent life, stars serve as superficial objects that people can identify with in order to compensate for the fragmented productive specialisations that they actually live” – Debord (Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter)

Spectacle and/as Theatre:

  • Theatre engages the mind and then the emotion.
  • spectacle engages emotion and overriders the minds
  • Aristotle’s Poetics: – tragedy, pity and fear, catharsis,  purging/ discharge of negative emotion
  • giving the audience what they want, keep them happy- bread and circuses- roman empire worked on warfare at the borders and a placid population at the centre- subsided food prices and lavish entertainment- gladiator fights, wild animals- distraction to real life.

Spectacle of Culture

“[Everything we consume] Embodies a mixture of distraction and reinforcement that serves to reproduce the mode of society and economy that has taken the idea of the spectacle to an almost surreal extreme”- Harris 2012

From “being into having”

The present phrase to total occupation of social life by the accumulated results of the economy.