Presentation Title

Contemporary U.S. Popular Culture: Differentiating Actual Truths From Fabricated Truths

Presenter Information

Marisol ContrerasFollow

Faculty Mentor

Paul Kjellberg

Start Date

17-11-2018 1:45 PM

End Date

17-11-2018 2:00 PM

Location

C305

Session

Oral 3

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

In this project, I apply the theoretical frameworks outlined in Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle and Jean Baudrillard’s Simulation and Simulacra to four individuals prominent in U.S. popular culture. In so doing, I show how their identities blend together fantasy and reality, thereby making truth inaccessible, mirroring the effects of capitalism on the general perception of reality in the United States. The individuals that I analyze are: Father John Misty, Eleanor Antin, Don Draper, and Truman Burbank. The former two are living persons, who perform under the guise of either a single invented persona (Misty) or a multitude of invented personas (Antin). For them, I analyze critical reactions to their artistic works in popular publications in addition to their self-perception by looking at how they speak of their artistic works in interviews. The latter two individuals are fictional characters, depicted either in television (Draper) or in film (Burbank). For them, I analyze critical studies of these characters in popular publications in addition to how they are treated by the whole of society within the context of their respective narratives. I then conclude my project by ascribing the creation and perpetuation of this fantasy/reality hybrid to the omnipresence of capitalism. The masking of truth, in each example discussed, is caused by the fragmentation and disillusionment which stems from widespread aggressively pro-capitalist sentiment in the United States. As the general public becomes increasingly more devoted to productivity and economic growth, the longevity of capitalism comes to the forefront of society and reality is spoken of in a manner such that life under capitalism appears to be utopic. Thus, fabricated truths overtake actual ones and the economic system is perpetuated.

Summary of research results to be presented

Throughout my research, I have found that though creativity is what one turns to in an attempt to escape the trials and tribulations of human existence. However, the perils of the world inevitably bleed into one’s artistic products and this act of escapism falls short of its originally intended purpose. In analyzing the four creative pursuits central to my research project (the musical career of Father John Misty, the artistic career of Eleanor Antin, the dual identities of Mad Men’s Don Draper as conceived of by Matthew Weiner, and the simulated reality of The Truman Show’s Truman Burbank as conceived of by Andrew Niccol) I demonstrate how one’s art is inevitably nothing more than a product of capitalism. The subversion of actual truth and the unfaithful presentation of reality that is central to the preservation of capitalism is echoed in each of the 4 creative pursuits which I discuss. Though each pursuit takes a slightly different approach, they all embody different parts of the spectacle or simulacra, which both trace back to the perversion of reality which comes from capitalism.

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Nov 17th, 1:45 PM Nov 17th, 2:00 PM

Contemporary U.S. Popular Culture: Differentiating Actual Truths From Fabricated Truths

C305

In this project, I apply the theoretical frameworks outlined in Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle and Jean Baudrillard’s Simulation and Simulacra to four individuals prominent in U.S. popular culture. In so doing, I show how their identities blend together fantasy and reality, thereby making truth inaccessible, mirroring the effects of capitalism on the general perception of reality in the United States. The individuals that I analyze are: Father John Misty, Eleanor Antin, Don Draper, and Truman Burbank. The former two are living persons, who perform under the guise of either a single invented persona (Misty) or a multitude of invented personas (Antin). For them, I analyze critical reactions to their artistic works in popular publications in addition to their self-perception by looking at how they speak of their artistic works in interviews. The latter two individuals are fictional characters, depicted either in television (Draper) or in film (Burbank). For them, I analyze critical studies of these characters in popular publications in addition to how they are treated by the whole of society within the context of their respective narratives. I then conclude my project by ascribing the creation and perpetuation of this fantasy/reality hybrid to the omnipresence of capitalism. The masking of truth, in each example discussed, is caused by the fragmentation and disillusionment which stems from widespread aggressively pro-capitalist sentiment in the United States. As the general public becomes increasingly more devoted to productivity and economic growth, the longevity of capitalism comes to the forefront of society and reality is spoken of in a manner such that life under capitalism appears to be utopic. Thus, fabricated truths overtake actual ones and the economic system is perpetuated.