Subject: Samsung TV meets Baudrillard Fri 06 Nov 2009, 10:38 pm
So, the new Samsung LED Televisions are advertising themselves as being so good that they are "hyperreal" ..... the Ad agencies are stealing Baudrillard's work and using it against us .... and they are doing it out in the open. Just watch these latest Samsung TV commercials, there's even one from India.
The idiot box may be making our reality Debraj Mookerjee First Published : 07 Nov 2009 10:49:00 AM IST Last Updated : 06 Nov 2009 11:42:20 PM IST
The ad under discussion today is somewhat lightweight, but the subject prompted by it is serious. A recent Samsung ad for its LED (Light Emitting Diode TV, as opposed to the more well-known LCD TVs) has the following tag line: ‘Life in Hyperreal’. This column will examine the concept of the hyperreal, underscoring in the process the all-pervasiveness of modern mass media in our lives; even more disturbingly, this piece will argue that the reality presented by mass media is perhaps replacing the one we believe to be actually real.
The word hyperreal seems intuitively appropriate for a TV that pushes the boundaries of clarity. I first saw the ad and then stepped across to an electronics store to check an LED TV out for myself. Frankly, I’d have to admit, the definition seems appropriate. The experience is ‘hyperreal’, so to speak.
The ad begins with a shot of a super thin TV and a voice over that tells you, “The Samsung LED TV; can’t help but pull you in.” A football game is unfolding on screen, which is par for the course with a gang of four guys having a big game night out for the boys. What’s different is the details you see in the picture. The spray of sweat, the stubble on the faces of the players and the sharp contours of the grass on the ground give the picture frames a life of their own. When the voice over adds that “your palms sweat, your heart pounds” and that it is a “whole new level of intensity”, you begin to believe something is on here. When finally a player takes a spot kick, the four men lounging on the sofa stand up and reflexively cover their you know what. The picture is so ‘real’ that it takes ‘your breath away’ you’re told. This apparently is ‘life in Hyperreal’.
The term hyperreality defines the failure of our consciousness to isolate reality from fantasy in a rapidly evolving postmodern world where the all-pervasive reach of technologically advanced media unrecognisably reshapes and filters the ‘real’ event or experience being represented. French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard suggested we live in a copy world, where we seek simulated stimuli and nothing more; what exists is the simulacrum (pl. simulacra), since the distinction between the real and the represented breaks down.
I remember a time when, having bought our first colour TV way back in 1985 in the back of beyond of distant Assam, our primary challenge was to mount an antenna fifty feet into the air atop a fragile bamboo pole, which had to be continually calibrated with great precision to produce pictures good enough to enable viewers to guess which anchor was reading the boring propaganda that passed off as the 9 ’o clock Doordarshan news. Today, even HD TV is just another frontier waiting to be crossed. LED TV produces a sort of backlit clarity to minute subjects on screen. What you see on TV is far sharper than what your naked eye is likely to observe in real life. TV is no longer life like; it is hyper life like, as it were. With so much simulation, wonder how far away is the day when we might completely fail to recognise the real, being more familiar with the hyperreal. The idiot box is not such an idiot after all! Be scared. Be very scared.