Posted by: Yorgos | July 21, 2008

Text 24 – Image Intertextuality…kind of

I’ve noticed that the past few years our “society of the spectacle” is becoming more and more self-referent, i.e. people in the entertainment industry are talking more and more about themselves and other people of the entertainment industry. There are TV shows which deal exclusively with what happens on TV and what how the celebrities of TV spend their time. And they are popular, so I am guessing there is a great appeal in them. People seem to like to find out what happens in their favorite medium “in depth”.

This is not the only occurrence, however. More and more movies made are referring openly to older movies and that happens rather through the characters than through certain techniques, images or allusions. A characteristic example is perhaps the movie “The Holiday” (a fun, yet forgettable movie, just how they’re supposed to be) with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. In this movie, there is no real need in the script for inclusion of the entertainment industry and yet there is a whole subplot which vindicates and glorifies the movie business. It seems to be self indulgent, at least, but I might be wrong. In the books I read I like them having allusions to other books I’ve read and loved, although they are hardly out in the open like that.

Anyway, the point I want to make is this: It seems to me that the entertainment industry has become a closed system and we are locked within it. When it was interesting to address everyday issues or even bigger issues of our lives, now it seems that the producers think that it is more interesting to talk about themselves. The most important social issue has become the entertainment industry. Take a look at the magazines in any British news stand. They are all talking about Big Brother and other similar endeavors. OK, not all, but most. People are more interested in the way things are presented on TV and in the movies and not about the actual things. It’s all a big trap and we’re all already in it.

Maybe things are not so bad, maybe I am judging them too harshly, who knows.

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Responses

  1. I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t know if it’s so much the entertainment industry closing in on itself. After all, it is primarily everyday consumers who pick up entertainment gossip magazines, rather than entertainers themselves. The reality-TV phenomenon and entertainment news certainly have something to say about how diffuse and all-encompassing media now is.

    That said, not every magazine on the rack is about celebrity gossip and media. Not even close.

    And also, self-referentiality and intertextuality has been a feature of film for a really long time. That isn’t a recent development by any stretch. Just watch “Singing in the Rain.” Even “Citizen Kane” is a film about media. Rather than arguing for this recent development in film, you could make a much stronger argument about film in general being the primary medium of spectacle and modern alienation. Just a thought.

  2. Citizen Kane is a film about media, like you said. What I pointed out is that films that are not about media are talking about media and in a not so concealed way. As for the news stands, I had in mind the British news stands, especially the airport ones, where almost all magazines are about television and cinema. And if you take a trip down the subway, you’ll see people reading (mostly) these exact magazines. We are not only watching TV and movies, but we find ourselves thinking and talking about them more and more. I remember the first year Big Brother was on Greek TV. It was all people were talking about…so frustrating…

    As for your suggestion, it’s very apt and maybe one day I will try and write about it. I’ve already hinted at the subject in some of my older posts.

  3. I can’t remember a time in my life when movies and TV were not a major topic of discussion. In our lifetime, that has been a big part of the experience of being a human being. It was the same for my mom. Even my grandparents, in fact, who, in their youth, ran a movie theatre, count film as being a big part of their social and intellectual experience.

    Now I don’t like reality TV, so I don’t get into the Big Brother talk, but is a conversation or series of thoughts I have about a TV show or film somehow less valuable than engaging a book? I ask because your comments are inflected with some negativity, and I get the impression you would like to privilege books over more modern forms of entertainment or culture. Maybe I’m wrong — if so, please correct me.

    You wrote: “People are more interested in the way things are presented on TV and in the movies and not about the actual things.” In many cases this may actually be true, but it isn’t true across the board. Just because there is a TV series about the Iraq invasion (Generation Kill, a really good one by the way), and just because I watch it and think about it, doesn’t mean that I don’t think about what the actual situation in Iraq was or is. Yes, I believe that modern spectacle is all-pervasive. But no, I don’t believe that there is no way out of that trap.


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