• The rise of the new media is seen by some as part of the change from a modernist to a postmodernist society.• Key argument – we live in a world that is shaped by the media. Media images and representations have become our reality and computer technology has created a virtual reality which has replaced real-life.• Key Sociologist – Baudrillard – we live in a media saturated society where media images distort and dominate the way we see the world.
• Our view of the world is distorted and sanitized by the media.• War and conflict has been shown as a media constructed spectacle so much so that we are unable to distinguish the reality from the Hollywood portrayal of war or the images we see in video games.• This distorted view of the world is called HYPEREALITY with the media presenting a SIMULACRA – artificial images or reproductions of real events viewed simultaneously around the world.
• Media shows such as…• I’m a celebrity get me out of here• Wife Swap• Big Brother• All blurring the distinction between reality and hypereality.• All of these programmes stem from an artificial base, without the media the celebrities wouldn’t be in the jungle, wives would not be swapped and the artificial environment of the Big Brother House would not become “real” for the audience and contestants.
• Emphasises the importance of the mass media in shaping consumer choices.• Media messages from all angles increasingly influence the was we define ourselves. The mass media created pressures and desires to consume and many of us define ourselves in terms of media imagery.• Media enforced trends become more important than the content or quality of the product, the visual effects in films more important than the plot and the ever increasing number of people who are famous for no reason at all apart from being made celebrities by the media.
• The media has created an uncertain world – do we know what to believe?• We identify more with the media images than we do with our own daily experience – are we more likely to identify with the communities of those in the soap operas than those in our own community?• BUT…do postmodernists assume that we approach the media with no prior experience of our own? Can we not ignore or interpret media images? Are factors such as are gender, class, ethnicity, our life experiences, friends, peers, education more likely to determine how we select, interpret and respond to the mass media?