The Media and Reality: A Thoughtful Explanation of Simulacra that Begs a Question

Sorry, this post is late.  Hopefully what I lack in timeliness, I make up for in quality.  

How does mass media contribute to our reality?  The conventional train of thought would have us believe that the ads we see, the magazines we read, and the nightly news shows we watch are all components of one personal reality; and that while these things can perhaps change our perception of our personal reality, none of these things has the potential to change reality itself.  Jean Baudreillard, however, in his book Simulacra and Simulation, argues that every ad, every news story, every article or book, creates its own simulacra or reality.  This puts us squarely in a world of constantly expanding realities, for with each artifact produced by the media, a new reality is created and added to a litany of existing realities.  But then, litany is not the right word.  These realities the media creates are highly irregular and unorganized, constantly intersecting with and overlapping each other, and sometimes even existing simultaneously.  And they have to be, for each artifact the media churns out does not exist on an island, but is informed, influenced, and expanded-upon by other realities.  The result is an impossible collage of realities, where new pieces are not simply pasted over old ones, but can actually cut through and across any number of layers.  What happens where these realities intersect, as they inevitably will?  The answer: a hyper-reality is created.  Hyper-realities create the illusion of a complete reality.  A hyper-reality seems so completely real and rich with information, it is somehow more than real.  And as previously mentioned, this collage of realities and hyper-realities is constantly expanding.  In spite of all of this, however, our reality appears unchangingly and absolutely cohesive to us.  The question Baudreillard never seems to answer is how.  How do we manage to perceive reality as uniformly singular if it is in fact made up of infinitely expanding and interacting facets?        

Image To Be Graded Meduim


The Image of Happiness

Jhally explains that advertising is no longer a simple act of manipulating buyers into purchasing products, but is now a sort of partipulation, “with the audience participating in its own manipulation” (Sut Jhally, pg. 251). He means that they are enveloping our social needs and cultures into their products which we then believe we must have. A good quality of life is Jhally’s definition of happiness—what everyone wants and what the marketplace wishes to provide. People have reported that the things that make them happy are not tangible. Instead, people are seeking social fulfillment like good friendships, loving relationships, and control over one’s life. Since the marketplace cannot provide these social desires directly, it aims to connect their product with said social desire. Advertisers know their goods don’t directly lead to happiness, but they do know that the goods facilitate achievement of the dream-like image that they portray. We believe this is a smart way of going about it, because it is getting harder and harder to sell material products when it’s not what people want. But we also agree with Jhally’s argument that this could be a problem in society. When people buy these products that connect to their aspirations of happiness, they expect happiness. What they often get is merely the image of that happiness. Jhally quotes social thinkers who describe it as a “joyless economy” (Sut Jhally, pg. 251). The marketplace mindset is that satisfaction will come through it’s products, so they orient everything around our desires, and ultimately we still end up being tricked into buying happiness.

Travis Cornett


Colleen Blinka

Ashley White



Grade us medium please:)

Chapter 13: Collaboration Superpowers (not everyone is a superhero)

Authors: Cameron Slayter, Michael Mueller, and Colton Revia

In chapter 13, McGonigal argues that gaming empowers us to higher levels of collaborative accomplishment.  “Gamers practice shared concentration and synchronized engagement.”  These definably human characteristics give a group the ability to ignore information that is not useful, and focus on only the essential information.  We all agreed that games are good tools for teaching us cooperation, and the ability “to honor a collective commitment.” There was some disagreement among us about the ability to apply these skills to the “real world”.  Cameron believed that there is a gap between learning these skills in games, and taking these skills to the real world.  “I feel as though it is important to specify that although we can learn these skills by playing games, it is easy to get under the illusion that we are improving the world by sitting on our couch at home, and playing video games.  As a society, we need to encourage the application of these skills in the “real world”.”  However, Colton disagreed- “The manipulation of these digital variables may not directly contribute, but the skills refined on the couch WILL be applied in every other pursuit.  Gamers are both athletes and scholars- the knowledge they acquire is integrated into their everyday behavior, woven into muscle memory and mental strategies.  While building a scale model of the Enterprise starship in Minecraft may not be solving world hunger, the same focus and single-minded devotion will be applied to solve that problem.” Michael: I agree with Cameron in the sense that we aren’t yet at the point that games of the potential to take us to. Although collaboration is a very key ingredient to successful gameplay today, not every gamer is strong in this area, even McGonigal touches on this point when she speaks about the player v. player environments that competitive natures dominate. But Colton is right.  The numerous skills gamers pick up through hours of play can easily be applied to the real world. That’s just from games made for the point of recreation; imagine what happens when we start making games with a purpose!  Although we can learn and improve upon these skills in video games, we mustn’t neglect the real world and cultivating those skills in person-to-person interactions.