Tuesday, November 25, 2014

D. J. Boorstin on Pseudo-Events and Celebrities

Here's a brief take on a book that's worth a read, I think: Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. New York: Atheneum, 1987.

First published in 1962, The Image went on to established itself as a standard work of history and cultural critique. Boorstin took note of the development of what he called "pseudo-events." He meant by this term events created for the sake of being reported; "man-made" rather than "God-made" events; a scheduled interview, subsequently analyzed, versus a train wreck, for example. The personal counterpart to a pseudo-event, said Boorstin, was a celebrity, "the human pseudo-event." In short, over 50 years ago this guy anticipated developments like 24-hour "news," staged "reality" TV, and the fame of people like Paris Hilton. He offers no prescription for a world where images do not depict reality but rather create it. He seems to assume that the best remedy is awareness. Interesting.

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