I don’t remember the content of this work, mostly because I have lost touch with the things I mention here it’s been almost a decade. Stumbling upon it today and looking through it is nice though. I find it has an interesting thread that I’d be able to develop, have I more time to edit it. I remember well the time of writing this - December 2009. This was meant to be intellectual trolling essay, but I guess it turned out nicer than that, bearing few foreshadowings. I think it is a decent work, although it needs some clarifications and more credit to those who inspired me to write it.
This was written prior to the rotten tomatoes being go-to-destination for movies, prior to Facebook IPO and its growth saga, prior to Snapchat, prior to AR/VR and prior to the nationalist movement that took over the world in 2017 with Brexit and Trump, raising existentialist agenda. This was written under Infected Mushroom tracks and bottle of Jameson in the course of less than a week.
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In some aspect, modern society could be referred to as a virtual one, which happens to be a common case and is the result of all the spreading media possibilities and its channels we have today, as well as the commercial role of art, entertainment industry and the contemporary literature of the twentieth century. Pretty much is said on how visual media is influential, the textbooks of McLuhan serve as basis and the rest can be derived from the modern internet space and best-sellers on the popular bookstore shelves. The discussion below will be not addressed that much around how but when, why and where did it (virtual society) take such a role in our culture and through which tools.
If how is the most common question and it likes to interact with the daily concerns of a modern man, the real essence of it all can be found and later explained in the answers to the questions of “when” and “why”? They embrace both the society’s current mentality (état d’être) and take into account the gaps of the decade changing influence. At the same time the other most important section in the answers to “when” is the understanding of what made industries influence the society and what was the necessity, every action with the possible question “when” implies the necessity of the accomplishment of its superior task. And this following method can help to decipher any meaningful event that had shifts and gaps. “How” brings chatter and noise around the event, while “when” brings reasons and contexts of it (thus source), and where brings even more partiality context appropriated to each culture and its history, in this case “why” serves nothing but to make the reasoning go deeper into the subject. Finally, what can be more expletive of an event if not decomposing it through time and space notions, ones so close to Bergsonian duration and Heideggerrian being.
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To talk about the modern society and the role of the visual diversity in it, we can resort to some useful written texts, serving us as some sort of anchoring into the topic, both authors describe being and can be seen as contributors to the modern theories of our society through their impressive works. The decision of picking these works is not a positive science and science of ethics is implied.
Hunter S. Thompson at his seventeen poses a question: “So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?”
It is quite clear that the most of us will identify ourselves or merely choose the man who braved the storm of life and lived, because Dr. Thompson here is likely to emphasize intertextual oxymoron synecdoche by constructing partial difference between lived and existed. Most of us if not perhaps all prefer to live and not to exist. This is discreet textual editing that works like a good “Annie Hall” monologue, had it prior storyline to lead reader/watcher to pick an emotion that author has implied by subverting the duality of the context he’d put it there firstly.
And now we’ll check another citation from Dr. Thompson’s which came later in 1961 from “The Proud highway” where he describes his life as following: “I am surrounded by lunatics here, people screeching every time I pull trigger, yelling about my blood-soaked shirts, packs of queers waiting to do me in, so many creditors that I’ve lost count, a huge Doberman on the bed, a pistol by the desk, time passing getting balder, no money, a great thirst for all the world’s whiskey, my clothes rotting in the fog, a motorcycle with no lights, a landlady who’s writing a novel on a butcher-paper, wild bear in the hills and queers on the roads, vats of homemade beer in the closet, shooting cats to ease the pressure, the jabbering of Buddhists in the trees, whores in the canyons, Christ only knows if I can last it out”.
And here he describes the whole life like a film scene in the precision of every element; it is like being in the room where all these scenes are being projected around and filling the space like accessories complete the furniture. Maybe it is the realization that if you live your life, you are hardly to be happy. That’s what we are going to find out next. And to mention that from this passage a lot of things can be clear to demonstrate the American modern culture. It is the way he describes it, it is the hell which lives in this so called “room” but still at the end and after mentioning the whores, Hunter S. Thompson turns to Christ. It is worth noting that the narration is subjective to help distance text from engager and it as well serves to erase reader’s own subjectivity into the projection, it helps to construct again. This text has a colloquial appeal to it or slang talking way of expression of subject and still it leads to the conclusion of us thinking that no matter where subject is, what situation it is in, it is more likely that American will refer to religion in one way or another. This is over exaggeration but it bears cultural connotations of wider literature and creative material. Text is over exaggeration in itself, apart from the literate assumption, and it can be exaggeration because of the above mentioned “slang” usage and “too familiar to make you feel me” approach from author, but it leads towards more interesting discovery – turning to Christ in one way or another – that is the character distinction privy to Westerner (particularly American), prior classic texts referred to Christ on multiple occasions from heroic standpoint and it was not only American/Hollywood trait, but overall western trait, interesting with this text is the usage of Christ, its position as “conclusionary” and its add-on to the character, this is James Dean era moment and this James Dean is appropriated to American culture, not European that could share heroic character theism prior to that signatory moment. This whole narrative is apprehended through the western cultural angle and “Whore and Christ” introduction is like splitting the atom, where American is one particle and the rest of European is another. This leads us now to eventually speak and discuss the differences between the American culture and the European one, mostly French (because of the exemplary text of Sartre) and what roles does atheism and theism play there. This will be our “where”/”space” moment.
To introduce the cultural interpretations gap, let’s switch continents and take J.P Sartre’s Erostratus as an example. “You really have to see men from above. I put out the light and went to the window: they never suspect for a moment you could watch them from up there”.
First we have to mention that Sartre is a good example in a way that his existential approach is contrasting the difference between these two cultures: American as a believer one and French much less (it is also interesting to note here that the interpretation of the religions in these two countries are strongly supported by the films and media, when in United States we can find a “God’s channel” it is quite unlikely to hear a news presenter to talk about religion in France, if it’s not a new law against wearing a head-cover). The other point we can see in comparing these two passages is that Dr. Thompson is often talking in his text about other human beings, about being surrounded by others, even if he feels dirty by talking about them he is able to articulate this vision and make the reader feel the human presence, while in Sartre’s misanthropic text we can find a phrase like this: “… It’s much harder to consider people as ants when you’re on the same plane as they are: they touch you.” First the narrator is locked in his 7th floor room and is all alone and he’s stressing his hatred towards the human beings in a sarcastic way. It must be said that French culture is more misanthropic than American (although its measurement is not due to literature or visual media and the measurement units are based on our emotional intelligence), and that is very often translated in behavioral, “surface” culture but not if we look more closely at the reason of their acts. Whereas in American texts it is frequent to meet a sociopath character (the last and very impressive one was the Daniel Plainview adapted on the screen by P.T. Anderson from the novel “Oil”), but compared to the French protagonists the Americans sociopathy is bare bones glued right up on the surface. This is nothing but layered complexity of the characters that we meet in different texts. In French literature or films reading the “interior monologue” is much more useful, rather than in American, where the actions and emotions behave like grammar’s present-tense. This later implies the importance of the literacy of the reader and the translation of the text but this consists of more complex linguistic system, while what it gives straight away is understanding the complexity of the character arcs.
Both Thompson and Sartre treat spatial layer differently which is interesting indicator for the reader. This is a literate technique that is mimicking the visual focalization. Thompson explores from on-the-level without any specific introduction of the visual angle, because the narration is subjective this is as well enforced, while Sartre includes adjectives that drive the spatial angle, this plays a much bigger role in narration than being a mere adjective. This is as well two culturally appropriated techniques that respectively emancipate and transcends to the authors identity. This small textual feature is both the merging of space and field. We can not have virtualism unless virtualism takes over in all the consumptive forms. Here culturally different context driven texts merge in lending visual tricks from sibling fields, enforcing author’s narrative on reader.
So the reason why we referred and compared these two authors from different continents is that they are able to illustratively describe the differences between their respective societies, both living in the same time and demonstrating the different état d’être-s, all of which contribute to easily ground up the understanding of why our society frames itself in certain way and dematerializes reasons of particular subjects through which the concepts are transgressed into general being.
Sartre and Thompson were the personalities who were on the opposite sides of Atlantic, living in different societal constructs but both arrived to some extent technical similarities through literature – this leads to a broader epoch driven collective consciousness. To move ahead we can note the importance of the intertextuality in both of their works, as it is the one of the most interesting and developed writing mechanics in the XXth century, both in writing and in other creative or analytical texts and mediums. Thompson calibers his texts and conveys the textual treatment in a very direct manner, as he uses, in the long passage that we cited above, the different scenes viewed from one narrative position. His writing manner which partially reflected his personality has somewhat of an offensive character to the reader; meanwhile Sartre’s treatment has a more global generalized scheme. Sartre is focusing on the imagination of the reader, when he tells a story of a misanthrope he makes us put our imagination into his protagonist, giving him our own sentiments, he enriches interpretation of him and makes identification more clear. This latter procedure is a comprehensive tool and seen in many visual works. It is one of the main tool in author’s arsenal today in the art and media. It is very efficient in influencing audience through intimate individual connection and society with its subtle effect as well more profound. It is notable that this is an author’s tool, because newscasters who tend to influence the viewers need more media res editing and voiceovers, this is not due to the general audience being not educated, but because of airtime restrain and media policy – thus the format at its core.
Marshall McLuhan made a difference between television and cinema in his “understanding the media” work. McLuhanian propositions of the media are more concrete and anchored in the physicality of the technological consumption - the process and our senses. He anchors the technological progress as the fact and prolongation of the human body. The approach on the media types here and hereinafter is based on McLuhan's definition but not interpretation. For the interpretation of the consumed content, we will base reflections on Debray's mediology, which examines more on the act of transmission and its influence on the viewer and goes deeper into the input and output of it on the culture. If a poster can lead to a legislation, then there was mediology included that made the ideological transmission to materialization possible. Debray was mostly focused on the influence of the media on culture and society, saying that Citizen Kane could change kid's life while 320 types of cheese couldn't and it all became possible because media and content became more accessible and homogeneous due to commercialization. We will consider that this conflict (subculture and commercial) towards society is inapplicable, because in virtualism creators have the same access and quality will bear the determining factor in distribution. Thus our concern is not the commercial versus cultural, but what the content itself is and what is left for us to interpret in between the lines. Due to this juxtaposition dichotomy of McLuhanian media and Debray’s mediology we will not completely abide to McLuhan’s reference to the TV (cold) and film (hot). Because per McLuhan film does not require activation of any extra senses to technically interpret the image and story while TV does require us to activate and participate, but it is all applied to the physiology and technology, so when we grow out of this framework and apply the content interpretation, the understanding of hot and cool changes. Hot is a layer where medium involves active interpretation skills, whereas cold medium leaves no room. This is interesting juxtaposition in itself because here McLuhan’s physiological definition of technological and sensory consumption is countered by the interpretation function of brain and content consumed. So we consider that television is something considered as a “cool” medium because of its mass informative flow on the audience, while film is “hot” because of its interaction process with the individual spectator. This was very fresh approach and considerations were subject of discussion in late 60s, today though as the post-modern culture is defacto societal application theory, we can suggest that even the television became “hotter”. And this is due to the use of intertextuality. Giving no food for thought (binary through cold and TV) and giving some food for thought (binary through hot and film) and through the progress of format and the viewer – the connectedness of visual texts is blurred.
Films contributed and keep contributing to our culture and at the same time they are in direct and “very private” dialogue with us, so each of the filmed emotion, each of the pronounced word in the film plot had aimed plurality first at the mass audiences and second to everybody in a very intimate and special way. What made television in the past decades hotter is that it took from cinema its interactivity style of open interpretation window through reality show formats (when not on air, story lives and which P. Weir had predicted in “The Truman Show”) and diverse pop culture broadcasts that we as an audience, consume differently than other television productions. So the main thing in both of TV and cinema is the possibility of interpretation and if films had this tool generally and before, the television acquired it since some time now and tries to enrich itself to become more efficient and be a stronger competitor to its “hot” film industry. Of course some of the industry whale corporation both hold stakes in televisions and studios and it is a tool to put diversification into the mix but more theoretically from a humanitarian perspective, all comes down to these two major medias as the powers that can influence and control their audiences. Television needs the hotter power to have deeper influence, because its format and broadcasting power has larger and more efficient result, while cinema has deeper and long term results – both serve the master of the specific needs. On a futuristic level - television will become more cinematic, while cinema will become more television-urgent (13 Blocks).
We can say now that Sartre was someone who initially aimed “hot” per Marshall McLuhan’s point of view (as he was trying to influence us with our own thinking possibilities) and Thompson was using “cool” tool because he was playing with the read-in-the-moment-flow structure.
This is interesting to mention because it shows us that already from 1941 (for Sartre’s “Erostratus”) and still in 1961 (for Hunter S. Thompson’s “The proud highway”), both were dealing with their readers in a way Marshall McLuhan synthesized later in 1964.
Sure all this can be applied to other authors and even to those before Sartre but the point here is that with these two passages we aiming to deconstruct the society we live in today though spatial variation (binary continents) and staticity of time. These passages are a good description of cultures and our mental states and this way we are closer to construct the environment for our answer on the question of “when”.
While parsing American youth (Thompson) and comparing it to the French misanthropy (Sartre) we juxtapose these two concepts and factor their contribution on our modern society and its the visual impact on it.
Trivializing is a process that excelled through decades and is one of the tactics of the intertextual procedure. We live in a fast-paced developing world today and we see everyday more than a thousand of images (including moving images) and our minds have a tendency to fragmentally collect them, even if they are not useful. The whole audiovisual industry (cinema included) became sort of a self-advertising machine (on a déjà vu basis) with the images that we have difficulties to associate to something or remember them, a shot from a scene becomes fragmental and lives its own life in memory, disassociating itself from its imposed context and this way our mind and imagination becomes the main actor in reconstructing the visual shots, products and ideologies they represent and thus re-established role models of the life style imagined anew. It is a hot kind of a media and it is a frightening paradox that we are the participating actors with our imaginations there. It is something we can call virtualism (an eventual intertextual exposure in the media world through us). As children as we have dreamed about immersive video games where we could live in a virtual world, but in fact virtualism arrived differently. The difference is that this time we are risking to have imagination filling in the gaps, making uncertified connections leading to a scenario that was not vetted, whether this leads us to the existence or living is a speculative subject. There is a French documentary director Chris Marker whose films specialize on societies and their matters and there is one particular film “Sans Soleil” which in translation means “Sunless” where he is narrating and analyzing the fact that our world is rapidly becoming not real but more surreal or even virtual. The subject of the futuristic exploration was early 80’s Japan, mostly showcasing not the technological advancement but the solitude of us within virtualism that this advancement brings, afterwards progress only expanded this solitude geographically, anchoring it, erasing collective real memories and substituting them with intertextuality, fragmented virtual shots, making kids future gods of their own solitude. Technology is the prolongation of our human body per McLuhan, but if the more body we get, the lesser human we become – can we then say that we are dystopian replicants from the Blade runner. In this process of virtualism a role of human is enriching his non organic tools and acting solely, detaching himself from solidarity.
Virtual world, virtualism can be dangerous today because of the propaganda it bears with it. In French culture laicism is and was prevalent, we can also refer to this fact basing our speculations on the “total absence of religion” in the media. It might be constitutional in France to separate religion and government but the newscast and media is not the government, but the prolongation of it which culturally threaded laicism in itself. It is taboo to talk about religion as it is about salary and you can find yourself embarrassed if you are French and if someone asks you about your belief, but as religion itself is becoming unpopular the ethics is as well becoming looser. Laicism and these ethics embedded in culture creates and more room for a person to develop individualism, enclosing few beliefs through ethics, therefore it gives more room for intertextuality driven fragmental virtualism to feed itself in these cultures, it is even almost illusionary to think that culturally rich France which has its demonstration through physicality breeds the virtualism the best. And what can bring the absence of the Christian religion in a country rich with Christian history having more practicing Muslims (and a country where headcover wearing is being banned, in the sake of security)? The simpler answer is it is a step towards the globalization, and thus refusing national identity. It is difficult to speculate on this topic as it is very intimate to those who believe and ethically obstructed. But the fact is that the media is a contributing factor in this case, leaving point blanks in the discussion of this topic through laicism, through ethics and in case it needs to discuss something it does it so in the name of security – another “hot” adoption and extreme one. And again - Sartre is not the actor here of course, he’s a thinker whose popular work “L’existentialisme est un humanisme” serves as a prediction of what is happening now.
Point B regarding the French culture:
American tourist: How to get to the Eiffel tower?
French passerby (with a blank face): Desolé je parle pas anglais.
This is the most trivial objectification of the relationship from a French towards an American. When observing the French new wave of even the current television it is much likely to see the intertextuality built around American culture and ideologies and that is where it takes an interesting shift. It happens that there is a dissonance between common knowledge and the French treatment of Americanism in culture, interesting is that through intertextual reference to US instead of its own is a pure definition of a spatial collective solidarity, rather than national epochal. This further deepens the dissonance and ambiguity of cultural text treatment and reference and embed ethical codes in French society. Films or entertainment productions (non franchised) carry references to the American productions more often. This manifestation can be anchored by J. Baudrillard and the cultural perception through time and space. It is seen as a very natural approach and quite true, indicating on a point that France is an old culture with rich history, so in a Franco-American dichotomy it is perceived as a time culture, while American as a space one, through overreaching commercial and entertainment dominance partly to the visual imagery. The reality we live in today thus puts emphasizes on the world, where we are no more able to utilize our history, we become dependent global products and they are of rich spectrum and through intertextuality and fragmentational memory overload they shape our aspirations as well. It is in a sort destructive manifestation but it is more likely to be the only reality we are faced and the one that will turn the globalization course into a normal “framework” as the main goal would be to reconstruct the world, renew the world, through collective solidarity, homogenized through virtualism. This is not a step towards a failure but a step towards the creation. It does bear contradiction to some extent over the virtualism but it only aids the globalization process to be more soft, more efficient and culturally fair.
What is interesting in Jean Baudrillard’s work is how he treats America. With his often cynically neutral tone, he tries to work on our subconscious and deliver to us the fact that the modern world’s cultural iconography is never emancipated from America, and it seeps well beyond the culture. It is also easy to find criticism over American policies. He refers to the Vietnam War as a reality show, saying it occurred on the two stages, one of which was the military and the other virtual one. Here again we see the importance of the virtuality which is expressed as an angle of almost everything, we see how the modern thinkers like to use this term and apply the world to it, almost bend the war over it, but to admit it is not an over-usage but rather obvious observation. Alongside with the Vietnam War he expressed himself on the 9/11 in “L’esprit du terrorism”. This work of his dresses the 9/11 as the gate to the era where the war as itself will finally incarnate virtually. But in fact it is not about media or television or films directly (it is about waging a war from a long distance and one where the known aggressor is hidden. The war where someone needs to take the responsibility for the death tolls and when this someone is either a person or a group, but most importantly when this someone is hidden, it looks like an internet conversation). At the same time, it is rather interesting to find that there is some Austrian independent filmmaker who made an editing from the big budget movies after 9/11 and reconstructed the horrible events, again passive-aggressively criticizing America. Europe is America’s conspiracy theorist’s buddy inflated through socialism. Because politically stakes and agenda must be aligned in the west over the proliferation of fear, the rebellion is alive and well in quasi-underground culture. Europe has no way out but to act like this, because of the pressure from insufficient virtual dominance over the globe through the lack of funds. So then again if we take all this French and European theories and interpretations of dreamed America, they still seem to envy its culture because of its success, can this be considered the side effect of virtualism or just the competition of cultures is to be seen as virtualism’s spatial dominance develops.
Baudrillard’s “hyperreality” is a parameter to consider in building the narration of virtualism and its distinction from it. Criticism towards American culture from European thinkers is the expression of basic jealousy, a jealousy of being advanced in spatial dominance, in having more tools and better investigative field to explore and build the metaphysical spatial concepts, but this criticism seen from the angle of hyperreality proves to be a praise. Hyperreality in itself is the expression of the fragmental intertextual based reality, expression of something that is more than real, without reference of the original, and hyperreality can not comprehend the aspects of the virtualism, because hyperreality founds itself on the absence of materialism, excluding McLuhanian media interpretation and intertextual audiovisual texts, while virtualism uses the fragmental gaps of these material texts and references and wholly reconstructs quasi-real. Hyperreality suggestion from Baudrillard means that the society we live in today is not only consumer but the self constructor. And the criticism serves the self-constructive goals, which if not masochistic are of an appraisal value. Suggest that we are the part of the consumer society, and we consume moralities as we do consume the products, this way we are the ones who constructed and invented hyperreality to only consume it and this way hyperreality cancels out our consumer moralities, making only one of them valid while the other becomes self-deconstructive, because of the negative dualism of hyperreality and consumerism, we merge the valid consumerism model with the virtualism. Virtualism compared to the hyperreality can withstand the consumerism deconstruction because it has more spatial traits, because it is more evolutionary and self-efficient in survival, through the reflective demonstration (media). The consumerism-hypperreality formulae shows us that when criticism towards American culture is triggered, it criticizes the society it believes in (while deconstructing it). To be clearer and to support this concept, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s suggestion comes as the logical basis application to this kind of interwoven and complicated social perceptive constructs. Wittgenstein finishes his work “On certainty” with juxtaposing dualisms “I dream” and “It rains”. Suggest that hyperreality is: “I dream” and consumerism is: “It rains”, so when in his work Wittgenstein says that “I dream” can be pronounced out loud when asleep it is not much of a true statement for the person who sleeps, moreover it is actually the same if he said “It rains”, even if in the dream it was raining, because in the dream there is only one logical reality, when actually the subject is in dual state conscience. As for what concerns Baudrillard’s constructs the only one reality and structure can persist. So American culture can be seen as Vietnam War virtual winner (according to the virtualism the major factor in the societal development) or as an inter-aggressor, a hyperreal actor to which the critique attribution is with no reference, but then again this is difficult to deduct because of the already clear dominance of its vitualism and the foundations of the intertextuality in it. Hyperreality is for real “I dream”, while virtualism is “it rains”. To counter this statement the morphology of dream can be applied, but this served as an anchoring example to make a statement that surreal, virtual or hyper can exist in one state.
After all it must be clear that the point made in this work over the subconscious sympathy and expletive criticism towards one entity from a group of entities and through fragmented destabilized solidarity indicates that the globalization pace the future takes, is leaning towards the way American culture developed in its emergence, the spatial path, not the epochal or to say in relating to this paper a path towards the virtualism not the history. Simply epochal structure enables multiple narratives to coexist on one axis, when spatial structure is more evolutionary giving the ability to the fittest to survive and propagate the sentiments, making axis more homogeneous.
Because we deal with a nascent social structure the biggest actor in how it shapes itself is the youth. We visited some aspects of European, mostly French social codes and ethics, which differ from the American codes, if in former the religious bumper sticker is a social faux pas, in the latter it is a form of free speech.
Again we will return to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson to point out to his passage and how he described his youth and proposed his reader the choice of a happier man.
In fact, the problem of the youth in American culture has a much larger outreach as it concerns the youth in most of the corners over the world, the proliferation of the US media and pop-culture makes most of the western and (soon) eastern cultures’ up and coming generations to be immersed through the intertextuality of the American one, thus the generalization and application. In case we refer to the American youth it is because of the massive footprint in the media that it has.
The narrative problem that media is feeding youth concerns the war, the traumas, the violence and the mass aspiration to morally “fail”. The new spatial structure that attracts to the new audience did not on purpose inherited the hero narrative but the iconoclast. Lot of films can serve us as examples because the modern film market (independent particularly) is oriented towards this particular narrative. It is not the discussion about the films and their cinematic qualities like how good or bad they are, but it is about the influence these films make and more precisely why do they make it. The film on which we base our research is Greg Araki’s “The Doom Generation” made in 1995. A highly typical postmodern underground teen film which opens with credits like: “A heterosexual movie by Greg Araki”. Yes from the very beginning we are transposed to this very colored, postmodern and pervert “flick” which spurts out the B-movies feeling, the trash of the 90s culture (flick because of the often strobe lightnings used in the movie to stress the new technological era, thus the slang “flick” seems also appropriate). There are three main characters, one teen couple and Xavier (aka X) who we interpret as the devil. The story of this “flick” is like a road movie where the couple is going nowhere (another Greg Araki teen-trash B flick), or to be more clear are escaping random people who decide to kill the girl. At the end we understand that they have no final destination and that the couple is stuck with X, who is interpreted as a devil because after he appears in the storyline the troubles begin to chasing the couple. X is always in a right time and in a right place to save the girl, until they stop some place on their way to nowhere to sleep and a Nazi group rapes the boy and tortures him with religious statues. The “flick” ends with the shot on the girl and X in the car and them heading on a foggy road to “nowhere”. That’s the plot, very dark one, beautifully shot (in an experimental trashy way) and sadly driven. The main idea of the film is the loneliness of the teen soul and the insecurity it endures even when related to the other through relationship commitment. They are so vulnerable together and alone, that they accept to be guarded by some devilish stranger, who is able at the same time to fulfill the empty space in the relationship by infiltrating into it and this way creating the love triangle. The most embarrassing thing about the story is to watch the characters being so desperate and as a watcher to accept their state and then to feel compassion to these empty human beings. And through compassion there comes the fascination. It is notorious trick to dispose us positively to the negativity. As a spectator it is horrible to feel, while watching these “doomed kids” surviving, that we would trade shoes with them to experience and endure something so devoured of humanity, to feel the extreme adrenaline they are feeling, to run from the ugly salesman with a loaded gun and who is also pervert and whose head is then chopped of and still talking and spurting. The ultimate feeling of this “flick” is that Doritos pack and that spurted out ketchup or blood. We do not miss the plot or the characters involved (because for the average viewer this is unidentifiable plot and a character) but through fascination we want it to live it through though, or to at least have a voyeuristic peeping hole to see it unfold live. At one point this is why films are the hot by McLuhan. They implement the narrative, they do references from James Dean types or Marilyn Monroe types, they imply pop culture and solitude, they are the texts full of things we can relate to and through these they squeeze in the plot that is unlikely to be appealing and still they make you wonder, they birth compassion, they leave things up to you to decide. It is not only being a spider-man for a little boy, it is also being chased and being assaulted for the audience, and relating to stigmatized and taboo’d topics through storylines is as intimate as it gets. This is a paradox and horrible reality, this is what Hunter S. Thompson explains in his passage. We, at our young age, are more like the creatures who want to relish wildly, we are sort of a Freudian proposition of the youth. In this particular case it is not about the influence of cinema on us, but it is more like what we want to see and what we are offered to see. This is a feedback loop that exists though, we are the products and we consume the observational product of us. Cinema does not influence us, but we influence it, and to break this feedback loop we resort to the intertextuality again in this case through epochal structure to explain it. But the more intimate the narrative the more cinema distinguishes itself from other modern social activities and media culture. Sometimes it stays out of the virtualism and only serves as a pure intimate interaction between film and its watcher and to confess this type of intimacy is rather rare and thus precious. It is something that the television will have difficulties to achieve yet. Apart from this type of cinema and director (who represents the minority) there is another charismatic person in the film/photography field who tries to portray the society through the opposite of “hero” but within the same cinematic means. This person is Larry Clark, a famous Tulsa native photographer of 70s who influenced directors such as Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola among the others. His first work in photography “Tulsa” is also a story that talks about drug abuse, arms, violence and war. On the first page of this photographic book we read: “was born in tulsa oklahoma in 1943. when i was sixteen i started shooting amphetamine. i shot with my friends everyday for three years and then left town but i’ve gone back through the years. once the needle goes in it never comes out.” This synthesizes his whole framework, in addition it is possible to feel the nostalgia in this citation and it is really scary. But Clark (who later directed his first film in 1995 “Kids”) is not like Araki trying to sublimate the awfulness of the teenagers’ dark world but tries to judge it objectively. Sure cinema is not at all an objective medium but at least in his films the aesthetically impact is not that cinematically intense as Araki’s. Larry Clark is able to deliver a character’s rawness and desperation through a very objective and simplistic angle, he is the exact opposite of Hyperreality, his work is strapped off of any intertextuality (Bully excluded), he grounds himself very much to the realism and it comes from a simple factor of casting a kid without a makeup and a smile.
In 1993 in Hollywood, Florida a teenager was murdered. This tragic event was highlighted and later adapted into a novel and in 2001 brought to the screens by Larry Clark. The film tells the story of two friends Marty Puccio and Bobby Kent. Bobby known as known to be a bully, who Marty and his other friends once decided to kill. The idea came from Marty’s new girlfriend who was already pregnant from him. There is nothing extraterrestrial in this story, Bobby gets killed and the teenagers who participated in the murder get arrested and jailed. “Do you know where are your kids at 4AM?” ends the film trailer, like instilling fear in parents, while being just a drama to the kids.
The “Bully” story has something fascinating though and this film compared to others of Clark has a very special ending – objectively speaking the ending is informative but subjectively it is infused with lot of cinematic work, this is by the end that we see Marty getting death sentence and others life imprisonments or up to 10 years. “Sure” after the appeals the verdicts were less harsh but still they appear in their original decisions by the ending credits in the film and the film itself is not an easy test for the watcher to make sentiment conclusions. You know the truth, you are presented with the murderous act but you’re not able to navigate through its origin, it is so woven within the peers and in this particular case you have to identify yourself with the characters you mostly like for their silliness and you even hardly can imagine someone that silly can kill. You also risk to like the uneducated Marty Puccio because he is the one who is bullied at the beginning of the film and by the end you might try to question the horrible act of crime. As in “The Doom Generation” here the idea of being someone who committed the murder will pass your mind and you will feel guilty (that is the difference between Araki’s “flick” and this one), even if you feel that the atmosphere in “Bully” is dealing with some nostalgia directed at the watcher, the watcher will confess to himself at the end of a film that after all the identifications has been established and grieved, the guiltiness prevails. It is although obvious that Clark tries to deliver exactly this, through the use of music, lights and frame freezing by the end of the movie when the sentencing appears and he enhances it on the Puccio through the earlier scene with his younger brother.
The answer to the question of why Clark is doing this is clear, in difference with Araki, Clark is an experienced observer of the society and his surroundings and his goal is not to provoke superficial feelings that will make us yearn for the “bad”, but his goal is to make us feel both extremes and then judge the situation for ourselves. To look at the murder through the objective angle and to look at the murderer’s as those kids he shot amphetamine once – his/our peers.
These might be out of the scope of virtualism, but the point about these films is that in our societal structure, the young generation is very vulnerable than it may appear, and it is not associated to the fact of its age, because it would make this argument obsolete compared to all other generations as well, but it is exactly through the lens of the virtualism that this generation is becoming vulnerable and susceptible for the cultural manipulation. The disturbing truth is that the youth is a violent division of each society, was it Thompson in 1961, or Puccio in 1993 or now the audience who will watch these films. Not to get influenced but to support characters’ violent acts, through compassion is not likely to change even with directors like Clark, because even if he brings the story to the screen in the most objective way, he himself was that rebellion who “shoot” himself back in Tulsa and as even he says “Once the needle goes in, it never gets out”, so this is how youth will perceive or receive the real and pure or completely distorted virtual reflection of our modern society on their TV or laptop screens. The medium itself is soaked in violence, the tools are violent within themselves, not us. This again looks like the feedback loop but because the tools are more pronounced the actors are more visible.
It is clear that the films discussed above were just to illustrate the regressive moral aspect of the modern youth in the virtual post-modern world. It was about morally “failing” that is becoming an appealing narrative within the virtualism. Other films can be found very contributing to the well aligned good moral interpretations and they usually carry rich hero values with themselves, but in our case important thing was to demonstrate how two peer, independent directors would bring the violent subject to the screen.
Censorship is the process which can control and provide a comprehensive (if well structured) monitoring for the visual world. This can be viewed as a really controversial power of the XXI century, as it was strongly criticized in the XX century in soviet-union and in the United States known under the Hays Code. Rejected in the United States in late 60s, it had a power to control the audience and influence it in numerous ways.
The communities worldwide till the 60s, especially in United States were subject to watch only the films that were licensed (strictly or loosely). This means that the nudity, drug use, sex, perversion and other potentially harmful scenes to the audience were censored, or very consciously examined with the possibility of film shelving. It is interesting that pretext for these were the impact on the audience who goes into the film, but the effect of the cinematic and visual work in general goes beyond the direct audience and seeps through the indirect. The fact that there was the committee to censor the visual work from the big studios and independent authors was prone to the commercial interest in the committee. Much could depend on the rule of the committee, its implementation and sanctions and any time there is a dealing with somebody else’s work from a group of people with power the unfairness arises. Code was not created by the government, the majors adopted the code to avoid government censorship, choosing self-regulation to the one by government.
We have to imagine the modern world with this censorship system in place, a world where we would not be able to have had “The Doom Generation” and “Bully”, who knows maybe the feedback loop in the younger generations could have a different impact then, and could have shaped a different set of aspirations. But this is not to make an argument to “what if” but to rather indicate that a censorship in a different culture at a different time and under the different regime acted in its own way, it has a footprint on Thompson’s work and any other contemporary author’s work who uses intertextuality.
Other positive point in censorship is (it is going back to the intertextual subtleties) that within its strict rules, the authors were obliged to find some other ways to express their distinctive positions. That means if someone wanted to criticize (imagine Chomsky as director) American political course, firstly his speech could be banned, but he as well could find much more subtle ways of transmitting his message through cinematic and audiovisual techniques. And as we have pointed out several times - the more subtle the message is, the more profoundly and efficiently it will influence the audience, it is the virtualism.
Censorship as the Hays Code in the United States could be seen as the lighter one with its emphasizes on sexually explicit content, while in the Soviet–Union many of the renown filmmakers such as Tarkovsky and Klimov found their first film drafts censored due to to the ideological divergences. Tarkovsky and Klimov would not hold the same ground in our society if their first drafts were granted a release because either it would abide the code or it would be cold as medium. A censored project’s social implications are amplified by the censoring fact and the director continuing to preserve his censored message in the next iteration becomes a figure himself. The product might be stripped off of its direct message but it also brings in more techniques that would amplify the message through subtleties.
That was our society nearly 40 years ago. Today, in the MTV era, where hip-hop video clip culture is as daring and expletive as an R rated film during the daytime, Hays Code application can not be used. This is the edge of what can virtualism achieve on its R-rated-side. We can find how the “idols” are influencing again the vulnerable youth with everything that is Boobs and Champagne. And the paradox is that as the years go by the up and coming number of the artists is growing, making it look like that every teenager has been aired on MTV TRL. The problem with MTV is that it is perfect example of cool media, leaving no space to the spectator to identify with the clip or reality-show context or its artist. The more it becomes hot though, the more the watcher is inclined and connected to the artist, the better the interpretation and identification can happen. Virtualism on the non-R-rated side has inclinations for that, because spatial understanding through virtualism is diminishing and channels are squeezed the more access and openness there is of interaction.
Although the extreme measure that can be undertaken, but does not seem to happen is that the Censorship revives. It is not necessary to establish a new Hays Code, the society has become much more adapted to the television compared to the 60s, but proliferation of the R-rated content and the accessibility of the remote control with no parental control tools on it is going to have a toll, making a young kid an actor in the virtualism leaving intertextual footprints in him.
This concerns American culture, not because it is the most perverse, but because it is able to impose the censorship codes, due to its overwhelming dominance in the media and due to the commercial interest. To compare again the American media culture and the French one, we can mention that France had an appearance of the “cheap nudity” on the public television market recently and that was deemed normal. Point be: France never had a cinematic censorship or any restrictions on any forms of art (only very serious cases could be the reason for the government to forbid film or any artistic project in the field). Meanwhile the RATP (Paris Metropolitan community council) has forbidden any advertising form of cigarettes in their metro stations in 2007–2008. Which provoked that some posters which had cigarettes in them (it is important to notice the strictness of the law, it is not about cigarette advertisement, but any form of the cigarette appearance in any publication in metro stations in Paris has been forbidden since the adoption of the law), were repainted or removed. (In repainting case some of the copyright problems were to arise, one actually concerned the Jacques Tati exhibition advertisements, where there was one shot from French director’s movie, where the main character was riding a bicycle and had a cigarette stuck in his mouth). On the surface this can look like dualism, but in fact censorship of the moving images and those of the static and with commercial interest in them are two serious ways. Spectator do not comprehend both mediums in the same way, where a film or artistic work has a storytelling, the commercial poster to sell a product has commercial goal, whether the watcher is well versed in these differences – this is another subject.
Cigarette and alcohol are not something that is irrationally supervised in the United States. And it does not mean that American culture doesn’t care. Some very simple and common researches can be found, which were conducted in the United States about the influence of the alcohol and smoking in the films among the teenagers. For example Dartmouth Medical School’s research (DMS) proved that the films had a major influence over the teenagers concerning the alcohol.
“In previous studies, Sargent found that images and scenarios depicted in movies are among the strongest influences on young children, rivaling several other factors such as drinking by parents and peers. In his current study, his research team found that 92% of the films in a sample of 601 contemporary movies depicted the use of alcohol. Broken down by ratings, they found that alcohol was used in 52% of G-rated films, 89% for PG, 93% for PG-13 and 95% for R… Overall, researchers calculated that the typical child who took part in the survey was exposed to about 8 hours of alcohol use through movies. “If you think about how many 30 second beer commercials one can fit into eight hours, it’s a staggering number — over 1000…” (©Andy Nordhoff, Dartmouth Medical School, Article Date: 13 Jan 2006–14:00 PDT)
This research is a good illustration of what kind of films include scenes with alcohol use, and the percentage above the PG rating varies only within 6%, showing this way that no matter current “censoring” or what is known as MPAA is not as severe as it was during the Hays Code. And alcohol only testifies that the situation if investigated more seriously in few years can be aggravated, through finally generalizing the violence itself.
While conducting the research, a practicing pediatrician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical School noted that the vast majority of movie scenarios depict alcohol in a positive light, often showing people drinking at parties or bars, unwinding with a drink after work, or leading up to a romantic scene. He believes that parents could improve their kids’ health later in life by limiting their “diet” of movies that portray adult-oriented behavior. “Parents shouldn’t let their kids overeat and they shouldn’t let their kids overindulge in movies,” he said. “One movie per week for a child 10–14 years old should be sufficient, but it’s clear from this research that kids are watching much more than that.”
This research leads to an interesting assumption that the current film licensing committee nevertheless what researchers will say and or how grave the results might be they are hardly likely to bring some changes to either the “movie diets”, or the MPAA release code. This is because MPAA (motion picture association of America) mostly consists of the major studio executives and they need this kind of a slight influence on the younger public, because this way they sell more products, and not that advertisement placement for smoking Marlboro or Absolute Vodka placement, but they sell better spider-man dream, they create a need for maybe just one shot from a hundred million budget movie that will be referenced in some indie movie and of course they will sell more star wars merchandize – this all influences us and this is the “hot” effect, it runs deep into our psyche. It is more like Chris Marker’s vision of the society which became one big advertising machine, where our imagination is completely involved by default. The most regrettable fact is that not only adults’ imagination is trashed but the younger generations’ too is predisposed and prepared for trashing.
There is another research conducted by AMA ALLIANCE which reports that films where the main characters are smoking are highly susceptible to influence younger generations.
It is clear that films influence us in a great deal and children’s imagination is even more fragile and susceptible to that influence. So even if we collect all this research data, if we compare different cultures and how they try to deal with this big media influence problems, it still might be impossible to prevent our younger society from being damaged with influences their parents would not like them to have, because in the grander scheme of the events, with globalization unwind, the media is overtaken by virtualism, where memories are disposable, where continents are on the one axis of societal development, where time is secondary and space dominates it, even as it starts to diminish in conscious size.
And the concern about this in our post-modern times is not “how to avoid it?”, but to question “When and why it began?”, then instead of avoiding these social malfunctions, we must accept them in the face of globalization and we must deal with them. We should not focus on preventing the harm or destructive side effects that virtualism brings to our society, it is the nonreversible fact already, it is part of the globalization and virtualism which will spread all over the world, first in developed countries, then in developing countries and finally in the third world nations. The process of this is imminent and the climax of it is the harmonization of cultures through one spatial entity, it does bring trebles though. It harmonizes the channels of communication and the contents traveled on them, this is as big an opportunity as well as this is the equality defect, but we have seen through a deeper angle that defect is an angle-dependent construct, because from one perspective this is a Stockholm Syndrome where the weaker culture gets high on the stronger one, thus it is inspired by it and adorns it all while keeping the other intertextual fragments of it, creating a harmonized global network of culture.
We live in a post-modern era and that is an established cliché, but how we must distinguish the era which is not corresponding anymore to its societal and moral codes. We are entering the new times with new spectrum of possibilities. There is a French cinema teacher Régis Dubois who published a book where he discussed Hollywood and the modern ideology. It is a sad book at some point because as we read it we have in fact a very little opinion of the author, who composed his book through the internet forum extracts, and then shaped them to his own will. It is a sad book because we are not clearly introduced to a thinker’s and author’s philosophy but we are suddenly given a numerous examples and reactions of ordinary moviegoers who saw “Rembo” and other films in that genre. And this way the virtual world is vividly conquering even the literate market. This is a literate example of that process, digital is slowly going after everything analogue. This book will be dated when the new comments will become available, this is why books are contemporary social narrative tools as well, they need editions, while in contrast doctoral theses are the researched topics in themselves, they stay solely relative and relevant until overhauled completely, this is the edge that scientific work has over the book, but the degradation comes when the comparison is admissible even between the scientific works and online comments, as the scientific work is academically peer-reviewed, so are the online comments, they are upvoted and liked – here in Dubois' example they are even published, edited, printed, consumed and modified. Editing of the fragmental content for the manipulation purposes is even more accessible online and as much as this is an artistic tool to create a narrative and influence and connect with the art consumer, this is harmful to the newscast.
As this book predicts when we buy a book in future, we will not read an analysis of the society but the society’s own point of view, which is an interesting upgrade but which is something that internet companies offer to us, making books obsolete. Google is a verb now. It is difficult to conform to all these sudden changes in our society, as they become very visible. We are used to hear from older generations how technological advancements awed them. But the progress we endure today goes beyond technological for the sake of technology, the development of hardware and wire was measurable in its confined result, but the development of the wireless and software gives lesser cues to where we will end up due to the virtualism’s involvement. It is less known to us because virtualism is more of a 4th dimension. It is not easy to tell ourselves that our society is measured within the computer technologies and bits, we believe that our mind is something more than a storage or google website, we want to feel more biology inside of it, we want to feel the importance of linguistics and DNA, even though we do grow the techno-physiological prolongations per McLuhan making us better cybernetic machines, but we still seek the organic in us and our evolutionary spirit fights to preserve it. It is comforting at least for now to know that all the major virtual medias are governed by human minds and that they are not self obeying. But then how ironic would it be if the governor’s mind would be a composition of self-reconstructed intertextual and fragmented memories derived from third party content.
It is globalization time you may hear these days someone saying, and in what specifically this globalization demonstrates itself, is it tourism or immigration, virtual development or accessibility to the craftsmanship through a couple of online clicks?
The answer may not yet be clear to us, as we are entering a new dimension of social codes, but some of them seem obvious. When a man with a camera is walking as a tourist in Paris with his wife and two kids and films a building, there is a big chance that he will film a few random people, while these random people will either film him back now, or film somebody else randomly when travelling next time. Years will pass and the family will watch the video clips they took in Paris over and over again and will see the same faces of strangers over and over again. These faces will imprint themselves in family’s memories, faces of the total strangers will leave a footprint. Now to seize the meaning of the globalization imagine a big street where everybody walks with camera and is filming each other. There is a big chance that you will become a part of somebody else’s subconscious memory. And memory is the strong weapon in any social structures, from modernism to hyperrealism and, from postmodernism to virtualism. It is its presence or absence that break or makes the structure work.
Today is the era when facebook seems the most secure place because you are at your home, in front of your computer and nobody will film you, even on the facebook if anyone wants to consult your profile, first he must ask your permission. As charming and fascinating as this era may seem with all the progress and technologies, it still looks like Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s passage at the beginning. It is the world full of whores, guns, drugs, alcohol, violence and where the religion disappears, where the teenagers only watch MTV and are on facebook. And the time will pass and me as a man I will only get balder... …maybe because if we continue like this we all will become Sartre’s Erostratus, a pervert, mad misanthropes, mad because their personalities has become sterile.
And yes still the world is worth living, not existing. The society is worth exploring because it is an organism with built-in collective solidarity, the globalization will progress and lead us towards the virtualism which will eventually make a new type of human. And while we get to there, this strange transitory period does not look like a postmodernism anymore, perversion outweighs the social constructs. It is a pervert modernism where we all seem to look like distorted or perverted by the visual flow and where the visual has already no limits and us no control. This is the society we wanted, this is the society we crafted and shaped, this is the society Thompson saw in 61 and Sartre depicted in 48, this is the society McLuhan tempted to explore through technology and Baudrillard pretentiously tried to explain. Anyway this is the era we were born in. And everyone will find something for him as the society never stops to grow. You can either now pretend and always smile to appear happy in somebody else’s reel, or you can stay sad and confused. But whichever you decide to be, soon you’ll be everywhere.