“This is the vengeance of the dead that haunt us in their absence”                          – Jean Baudrillard 

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Imagine waking up on a regular bright and sunny morning. As you go about your regular routine you notice that the normal sounds of birds chirping and children playing has been replaced with the wails of sirens and people screaming. As you pull back your curtains you realize your worst fears have come to life….zombies.

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As if this situation could not get any worse, imagine fighting off hoards of zombies to get to a safe location, only to discover your only form of help lies in the hands of  the one and only Jean Baudrillard. What would he have to say about this global catastrophe? To get his perspective on this event let’s look to “The Precession of Simulacra”  for his brilliant insight.

For starters, it seems that Baudrillard would first have a big “I told you so” just waiting to be declared. On page 1730 he explains how signs have now taken over the things signified.      

“Something has changed in the human relation to the nonhuman that plays itself out in a deadly hostility to all things different…it is a change for the worse and all attempts to turn back the clock only accelerate the the triumph of the sign. We are left yearning for the things we killed and nostalgia assumes its full meaning as we create ever more signs to simulate those lost things.  This is the “vengeance of the dead”who haunt us in their absence. “

So in relation to theory, the zombies of “Dawn of the Dead” could symbolize the ever growing use of signs over things signified. This process started off slowly,within the individual, but like the zombies; bite by bite, the death of the signified began to increase and before long the world is infested with nothing but signs (zombies).  After this process was complete the world is left in a “hyperreal” from which there is no escape. These copies of a copy are seen in the mass produced zombie films are the simulacra that thrives in this “hyperreality”

Baudrillard would associate the American obsession with zombies to “a loss of the real”.  Baudrillard feels that in “contemporary life the pervasive influences of images from TV, and film has led to a loss of the distinction between real and imagined, reality and illusion, surface and depth. The result is a “hyperreality” in which the distinctions between these are eroded.” (Barry 87) An example of this would be the constant scene played out in most zombie flicks. This scene involves a member of a group being bitten and then turning into a zombie. Someone emotionally attached to that person then freaks out when someone else tries to kill the now turned zombie. This situation usually results in the death of both the zombie and the threatening party. This shows the strengths that are involved with “the loss of the real”. The reality presented is too much to handle and the individual cannot handle the loss of the real. So much that they are willing to die for it not to change.

On page 1730 Baudrillard explains “There are no longer human needs that human work strives to satisfy. Rather there are culturally produced “hyperreal” needs that are generated to provide work and profits….consumer society provides a “precession of simulacra’, a parade of images that projects a life that consumers are encouraged to live”

By the entertainment media constantly releasing zombie films like these, they are bombarding the audience with the ideas and images of a hostile takeover. The chaos and panic that ensues after the event takes place creates a false reality that the audience latches onto. The film creates a need for a safety that does not exist and constantly presents a false reality that could happen to you and your family any-day. Even the slight worry of this coming true already begins the process of the “loss of the real”.

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In the film, ” Dawn of the Dead” the group of survivors makes their way to the only safe place they can think of; the mall. Baudrillard would view these action along the lines of how he views Disneyworld. Baudrillard believes that “Disneyland has the effect of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real and thus saving the reality principle. ” (Barry 89) The survivors use the mall as a way to block out the outside world that has been turned upside down. Although their version of reality has collapsed, they still continue to hope that they can get things back to normal somewhere else. Baudrillard points to the parking lot as the actual reality of Disneyland. The cold, dirty, automobile filled wasteland. In “Dawn of the Dead” the zombies gather in mass numbers and mill about in the parking lot. In a world turned upside down, the parking lot again shows the reality of the situation, filled with flesh-eating zombies. The mall however, represents a false reality that the survivors are masking as actual reality. They hope they will be able to get back to a normal life so the security guards uphold not only the law but mall policy as well, even though that version of  reality is long gone. This example can show the impact hyperreality” can have on individuals in the midst of a catastrophic event.

By taking a look at Baudrillard’s view towards the Gulf War, it is interesting to think if he would relate the same perspective to a zombie takeover. Baudrillard believes that the Gulf War never happened, “what really happened was a kind of televised virtual reality”.A larger example of “a copy of a copy”  If a zombie takeover were to take place , it would be none other than a televised virtual reality. The news reports and actions by the government would be very similar to the ones played out in the numerous films based on the subject. And the citizens caught up in the chaos would react the same way as they have seen on the big screen. Their actions and fates have become nothing more than a simulation that will lead them to not much more than a gruesome death at the hands of the flesh-eating vermin.

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HARAWAY: A Manifesto for Cyborgs

Haraway definitely takes an interesting view on the ever changing element of technology.  Her outlook on robots/cyborgs and their impact on society itself seemed more distant from the other theorists we have read. What makes her writing so different is her connection drawn between the sexes/technology/and the workplace. Haraway explains her vision of a cyborg as “a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” (2269) This immediately put images in my head that I knew all too well.

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Who hasn’t seen the Terminator movies? Of course we all know that soon enough the robots will be given Artificial Intelligent and soon realize they have the ability to destroy mankind. At first I thought she was heading into the direction of these robots direct influences over man in general and how that will continue to grow stronger in the future. However she takes an interesting turn when she says ““There is nothing about being ‘female’ that naturally binds women. There is not even such a state as ‘being’ female, itself a highly complex category constructed in contested sexual scientific discourses and other social practices. Gender, race, or class consciousness is an achievement forced on us by the terrible historical experience…”(2275).

  surgical.gifNow what about the robots that give humans longer lives and are used in a hospital setting? As the years go by these robots continue to grow smarter and their serviced to mankind grow as well. The picture above is the medical robot from Star Wars who ever so kindle mends the wounds of Luke Skywalker. As the technology era continues to progress perhaps the cyborgs will be able to save many more lives and hopefully not put all the doctors out of a job which it seems Haraway is concerned about. The list of domination seemed a bit confusing but the Star Wars program is one that I have always been interested in and can totally see the connection. Most theorists, conspiracy ones that is,  even believe that the Star Wars program was developed to make a defense against threats of a hostile alien force.  The fact that the government keeps the citizens in the dark on most other programs is easily a tool of domination.  Area 51 shows domination in the simple sense that for years the government said that it does not exist. Although it may be a stretch I see these things connected very well.  Biology seemed to be a confusing term to have on the list yet once I thought it over I could see why it was there. As I thought back to Biology class I remember doing a lot of memorization and classification. Species, plants, cells, etc…they are all classified and put into different groups. Humans themselves are put into groups.  The power to do this is a good example of a dominating force. As for the rest I really needed to hear what the class had to say for alot of the rest was a little over my head.

What I immediately liked about Baudrillard is that he really sticks it to some of the other theorists that we have been reading. It seems that he has a problem with the way “the real” is not only duplicated and repeated but what exactly is now considered “the real”. Saussure and Jameson are under attack when Baudrillard explains on 1733 that   “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody.  It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself” (1733). When I saw parody thrown in there I knew he was sharpening a dagger just for Jameson.

In the world we live in today it is really hard to say what is real and what is not. From the television, news, movies, and film to the very people you associate with on a usual basis. Out of all these elements what is constituted as “real”.  Is our day to day life “real” to someone who lives with an indigenous tribe deep in the rain-forests? And does their life seem real to us? But I think Baudrillard wants to look more at where the concept of the real originates from and how media today has warped our sense of the real and has contributed to the “hyper-real’ that we live in today.

Before I got to far off topic I decided to consult the good ol’ Barry book. On page page 87 Barry explains that “Baudrillard  is associated with what is usually known as ‘the loss of the real’, which is the view that in contemporary life the pervasive influence of images from film, TV, and advertising has led to a loss of the distinction between real and imagined, reality and illusion, surface and depth.  The result is a culture of ‘hyperreality’, in which distinctions between these are eroded.”  This basically led right up to the question “but what if a sign is not an index of an underlying reality but mearly of other signs?”  This is when I looked right into the mirror and realized that I was the exact instrument of reproducing the memory of past signs in media form and relating it to new ones. Ryan C. and I are by far the most guilty of doing so and we may have warped your precious developing minds with our continual entertainment/media  memory references. As I look back on my old blogs I see references to numerous TV shows and movies that helped sum up a point or idea I was trying to explain. South Park, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Die Hard, American Idol, The Matrix, The Hamburglar, etc…Its all the same. Baudrillard would have my head for this.

But what else am I supposed to be referencing? Would he be happy with references from Shakespeare, The Bible, ancient Greek writings, Egyptian hieroglyphics? But aren’t these just reproductions of signs from our past in a different media form? Or would he rather have me just keep my mouth shut and ideas relevant to the topic at hand and not some obscure reference that just happens to be more socially known then the ladder.

Baudrillard says on page 1733 ““The real is produced from miniaturised units, from matrices, memory banks and command models– and with these it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times.” The point Im trying to make is where does the line get drawn? If the reality we live in is a hyperreality the at what point was there just reality? Or has it always been this way?

Horkheimer and Adorno have a little too much time on their hands I think. Yes they do bring up a valid point about the way society does nothing but repeat ideas that work until they are dead. This is why we have Die hard 4 coming out. This is why we have Indiana Jones 4 coming out even though Harrisson Ford doesn’t even remember doing the first three. Yet, by calling the movie audience victims, I feel that these two crumb bumbs have crossed the line.

Movies to me are a very strong outlet for expression. I have been filming and acting since I was 12 and these two guys are just like the drunk ones I find myself arguing at parties. Yes, it is true, television and film are nothing but instruments controlled by the industry to pump billions of dollars out of the people each year.  But within this corrupt system of power and exploitation their is something still pure that can be seen if only you take a second to look. On page 1229 they say “the culture industry remains the entertainment business . Its influence over the consumers is established by entertainment” Without a doubt the entertainment media has a lot of power over the consumers. The fact that I would throw myself in front of a bullet to protect Christopher Walken or Steve Buscemi shows the strength of this power. But movies are not some tool of culture control and are not as evil as these guys make it out to be. I think the key is to filtering the ones that do nothing but brainwash the masses and search hard for the ones that can stimulate your senses and motivate yourself to do something new. Movies are an escape but they can also present an image through time that any morphed society can relate to. As literature shaped the way we view the past, movies will without a doubt shape the way the future views our time. We do not go to the movies against our own will, we go with the hope to have some fun and by chance see something unique and original for our time. In the grand scheme of things all ideas have been done before (SIMPSONS DID IT!) but relating all these stories to our time is what makes the originality pure. Victims we are not but participants in something that has the potential to be original and influential. We adapt to our ever changing times and our art mirrors these changes as well.

Well after numerous computer crashes and trips to the library only to find the movie taken out, I was finally able to sit down and watch what everyone in class found so funny. 

 Now as far as Cho’s comedy is concerned she is original in her own way. Some of her jokes were very predictable and her word use was a little edgy. I know she loves gay people and all but Im sure many would find her use of the word fag to be offensive. Regardless, her perspective when looking at issues such as sex, race, and family were very original and timely.

My favorite part of her act was when she focused on Chippendale dancers. This was a dead on accurate observation that I do not think many can argue.These men are dancers because A. They like the money B. They love to dance. C. They like being around other muscle guy dancers who can relate to them. I think back to my friend Michelles 21st birthday. Her friends hired her two male strippers who arrived at the party typically dressed like two police officers. I pitied their unoriginality. I mean why cant a stripper show up dressed as the Hamburglar or even Micky Mouse? Its all going to end up with nudity in the end so who cares where it starts? Anyway, as their performance progressed I noticed how much fun these two guys were having. Not with the customer but with each other. This vision then flashed me back to the summer of 1996 when I went to California with a few friends. One morning we woke up early to go surfing and arrived to a perfectly empty beach and great waves. As my friends and I got ready my buddy asked if I would put suntan lotion on his back. I froze up. And then I said no. Even after my friend pleaded with me I still said no just because touching another guys shirtless back is just a little uncomfortable for me. But that’s just me. It was not a matter of people thinking I’m gay or the thought that maybe id end up liking it and then have some weird obsession with guys and suntan lotion the rest of my life. But it was neither. Even on an empty beach I did not want to touch my friends muscly back. Now fast forward a few year to my friends party, these two strippers were rubbing oil all over each other and having a jolly time. These two events in my life never added up until I began thinking that most male strippers must be gay. Cho confirmed this belief. Yet I feel that she would have a field day with my refusal to help out a friend by just putting some lotion on his back. Would this refusal be some sort of reversal gender performance. A gender anti-performace?

One connection that was solidified with Cho was her connection to Foucault. His idea of the shift that takes place with the discourse of sexual confessions is apparent in the words of Cho. We can clearly observe a massive shift in the whole concept of a sexual confession. From the ages of sexual acts being whispered in the confession booths at church to a grown woman graphically explaining her sexual experiences. Taking this a step further she is making a living off of these confessions, they are marketed and then shipped all over the world. The media alone lets her confessions be archived and watched at anytime. Foucault would definitely take this shift as a massive change in the way sex is discussed in society.

For the third time today I have driven to Saint Rose and all three times the Chow was not available. I do not know what else to do.  Blah…

As it nears 1 am I finally finished the fascinating works of Judith Butler and I must say I am wiped out. Just when I began to understand where she was going with something i would lose the momentum due to sarcasm or wording something she was actually against. I know these are typical problems one has while reading theorists but I found it extra annoying here.

Now when she began to go into “inner and outer” i was immediately haunted by the echoing words “The Center is not the center”. After I wiped the sweat from my forehead I continued on. Her choice to use the word “trouble” was very interesting as I think of Northern Ireland when I think of “troubles’ but when dealing with sexual identity i did not know if it was really the appropriate word. Now as Butler continues on I found her reference to Hairsprayto be helpful. Any reference to a movie or Tv show I find extremely helpful. On page 2491 Butler writes ” The sex gender distinction and the category of sex itself appear to presuppose a generalization of the “body” that preexists the acquisition of its sexed significance.” This is true when looking at her ideas on how the body is a passive medium. The bodies of men and women are obviously different and this form itself can instill a sense of dominance which is mental. She brings up the these differences as well as the ones between mental sex and physical sex. When this was brought up I thought of the 90’s Stallone blockbuster Demolition Man where he and Sandra Bullock have literally mental sex with the aid of these two brainwave helmets. Nothing really to connect with his but just thought id bring it up. Well speaking of mental sex I am mentally exhausted. I retire now but will buff this post up tomorrow to make it a little prettier.

Instead of being able to attend the symposium I was kissing ass to Manhattenites at my second job which is at a horse farm in Old Chatem. As these rich snobs make their monthly trip up North for a riding lesson I get the feeling the true intentions of this hobby are just to be seen in the elevator wearing the polished riding outfit and matching gloves. God…I hate these people.

Instead I was able to see a taped version of a play from Hudson Valley called “Wheres Julie” This emotional dark comedy was a look into a families reaction to a young pregnant daughter breaking the news to her family which consist of a mentally handicapped son obsessed with Nintendo, an alcoholic abusive father, a weed dealing gangster son in law, and a housewife who turns her back to all the families problems and keeps on playing the role of the happy housewife.  The show definitely had its funny moments but also dealt with dark issues present in many American families. trying to tie this show into some of our theorists was a difficult task but Fanon and Rubin came to mind as this families downfall was laid out on stage. Jameson snuck into this show as well with that ever repeating phrase “history repeats itself” In this play the weaknesses of the parents can be seen in the decision making of the kids and how this effects both sides. this families problems are not resolved but mearly covered up with a band aid. Only to resurface again after only a short while. Fanon would have something to say about the identity roles the mother thought she was upholding. even though her husband was abusive to the entire family, she knew only to play the devote wife who always agrees with the husbands final saying. The husband had a warped sense of identity through his way of controlling the wife into submission. since she played the at home wife, he would threaten to leave her and force her to raise the family on her own. this fear of abandonment is what keeps her silent and contribute to the downfall of this American family.

I know this is had to relate without seeing the play but my problem may also lie in not wanting to sound like im just bending the ideas of these theorists just to make it fit what I saw. Hopefully these connections are clear and can be seen like I did.

Michael Foucaults “The History of Sexuality” challenged my judgment skills on what exactly could be DEFINED as a funny and witty title and what would be viewed as offensive. This concept of defining a word and how this view can shift dramatically from person to person is very intriguing. What one finds funny another can find horribly offensive. That’s just the way it is with the topic of sex in language form.  But this concept takes on a whole new meaning when analyzed in the field of sex and society.  Foucault really lays it on us for being a very perverse group of people.Men are pigs I guess. But its not our fault natures just doing its thing. I just heard the faint echoes of Jessee Spano yelling at AC Slater for making a pig-headed-sexist comment. Ahhh those were the days…Bayside High for life…Anyway,  One aspect of this that was a little confusing was his view towards the spread of this idea. He mentions the confessional booths on page 1650. “Not only will you confess to acts contravening he law, but you will seek to transform your desire, into discourse.” It just seems that this is exactly how the idea spreads. If people are forced to tell about their every hidden secret then this produces an environment in which it is acceptable as long as you don’t talk about it and try to stop. “try” is a funny little word when ti comes to the confessional booths. We are all sinners so we ll “try” to be good. I really like the word try sometimes.

“Men multiply like the yields from the ground and in proportion to the advantages and resources they find in their labors.” (1653)  Rubin immediately popped up in my mind. Right after this Foucault also says “the manner in which each individual made use of his sex”  This is true in many aspects of life, women use what they have and so do men. An individuals sex does come with advantages and disadvantages but they do exist and many take advantage of them. Rubin would point this out and show how this concept has transformed over the past hundred years. The fact that everyone has a different idea of sexuality in general is the downfall to understanding its use in language.

I want to send Sherri my Fanon blog for the carnival and I do not know how to send.  I copied the link but where do i send it for Sherri to recieve? I hate computers…

http://bobsaget.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/slave-of-my-own-appearance-fanon/

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