Baudrillard’s Hypermarket, Assessment Example

A French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard is associated with, more than any other writer, the cultural implications of postmodernism. His leading role has in some ways switched from that of being a mystic of postmodernism to being an observer who reminds the major revolutions in human society that have been swiftly normalized and neutralized. He writes when consumerism has picked up the pace and jumped into a new ‘hyper’ form, when the discourse of consumption has turned out to be even more dominant and more and more based on a new type of message. Hyper society can be characterized as an acceleration of social realm when dominated by the proliferation of signs. He (75) calls hypermarket a ‘triage center’, that is, a place where people are examined in accordance with the given categories. This dynamic demonstrates a fundamental paradox of consumerism.

We live in a world, as Baudrillard (3) has postulated, where there much information with less meaning. It is exactly in this never-ending clone of the image, in this never-ending propagation of symbols, that the symbol itself has become less evident. The symbol no longer has any meaning. It is in particular the excess of information that refutes its meaning: “Information consumes its own content. It consumes communication and the social”. But where is the information? This situation has now worsened by cultural situation, subjugated as it is, in Baudrillard’s terms, by simulation and hyper-reality. The illustration itself has become the new fact, or hyper-reality – a business world floating above the real-world in its own sealed-off enclosed envelope. It is a world that its connection with its referents has been lost in this real-world, and where, ironically, the term “real” has been under control of the global companies and turned into an empty publicity catchphrase, claiming its genuineness against its very absence of genuineness, such that ‘genuineness’ becomes a suspect, counterfeit currency in the hypermarket of reality.

In a world where the unreal becomes the ‘real’, there is no longer remaining a place for the real. In the perfect crime of the twentieth century, reality itself has been stolen. In a personal visit to a Disneyland, one observes that nowhere has the cover-up been more evident than in Disneyland, the archetypical dream-place of this culture of consumption. Disneyland is at the level of culture what the hypermarket is at the level of the commodity: the perfect circulatory operator, the demonstration of anything through its own accelerated circulation. For Disneyland, as Baudrillard notes, presents itself as a fantasy world, a fantasized kingdom to be contrasted with the real world outside. And its greatest triumph is to make us believe that it is fantasized. Disneyland in so doing lends influence to the outside world; it is an unreal world that becomes a ‘prop’ to the real, an imaginary kingdom that makes up believe that the world outside is real. Yet it is here that the greatest deceitfulness one observes. For the world outside belongs no longer to the real but to the hyper-real. And Disneyland, as Baudrillard notes, is specifically part of that hyper-real world outside. It is the very imitation and duplication of the values; and if the people buy this myth of the make-believe, it is just because they want to get into it. Disney has become the new religion of the twentieth century, where dream and reality are entangled in a never-ending world brought by Disney Products Plc, vendors of dream to the universe.


Works Cited

Baudrillard, Jean. The Illusion of the End. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994. Print.