Debord Rutherford and Giroux
Nothing, not even an essay into the general nature of meaning of things, should be viewed out of its context. Thus, at the very onset, this essay admits that its purpose in being is to examine the political nature of the present age through the light of communication media. Probably the most emblemic symbol of the present age of international development is the media – electronic and otherwise. This is because the media sells things – goods, services, ideas, opinions, etc – all that is necessary to sustain this present generation of enhanced civilization in the present day and well into the future. Whether it is a commercial enterprise selling biscuits for profit or a politician selling him- or herself for self-aggrandizement the media is there to help do the job. Thus, it is necessary to know how the media views the nature of things and influences it so that it can be better understood how the media’s pervasive influence on life in the 21st century moulds its modes of epistemology. This shall be done so now with the views of three European thinkers – Debord, Rutherford and Giroux – on how the individual consciousness thrives or languishes amid the greater world at large.
The essay shall begin on the following very germane note – Hegemony, the rule of the dominant, in the individual consciousness is the subjectivity that the hegemony itself has instilled psychologically in it. This is so according to Louis Althusser (Lecture Notes 2) and quite in line with what Gramsci thought of it as the subjected class accepting the values and mores of the dominant class as ‘common sense’ and ‘natural’ to sustain hegemony – Gramsci’s definition of the rule of the dominant class over the subjected one (Lecture Notes 2). The hegemonistic rule is thus natural and second nature in the subject, who may have been subjected to its influence right from birth, though it may not stand in his or her stead.
DeBord and the ‘Spectacle’
To understand DeBord better it is necessary to understand his conception of what he terms as the ‘spectacle’ better – "The spectacle is not a collection of images. rather it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images". And, – "The spectacle cannot be understood as either a deliberate distortion of the visual world or as a product of the technology of the mass dissemination of images. It is much better viewed as a Weltanschauung that has been actualized, translated into the material realm – a world view translated into an objective force". (Lecture Notes 2)
So what do these two statement signify In terms of mass communications DeBord can be correlated with Gramsci in the following sense – The spectacle is the otherness that is imposed around the individual consciousness, the being-in-itself, that it must acknowledge all