What is Spectacle?
Google definition: “visually striking performance or display”
- Consumption over active participation
- Something you watch
- Designed to keep you quiet/ satisfied
- 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.