Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome

Party hacks have attempted to spin our attention away from the real significance of the arrest of 'Blair's Gatekeeper' Ruth Turner by complaining about the 'theatricality' of the police action. We are expected to focus not on what was done and why, but on how it was done. Saddam's execution is now largely discussed in terms of whether the media should have shown any of the grisly pictures of the hanging and on the failure of management that led to mobile phones being able to film the whole thing. Racism on Big Brother, meanwhile, has taken on national and global significance. This is, remember, only an unusually mindless TV show about nothing. The medium, all too obviously, has become the message. Most big news stories - and almost all political ones - now have presentation, how things are seen, as their primary theme. In France, the far right has taken the logical next step. Jean-Marie Le Pen has set up an HQ in the virtual world of Second Life. The New Labour project is often seen as a failure. In fact, as these developments demonstrate, it has been a triumphant success. In 1997 Blair inaugurated his Pleasure Dome of Virtuality. In 1999 it was literally embodied in the Millennium Dome; today its avatar is the Big Brother House. The Dome's dominion now spans the entire world, our imaginations included.


  1. I'm disappointed in your cynicism towards all these wonderful Celebrity Billy Idol programmes that populate the cathode ray tubes, fulfilling as they do the yearning of the hypnotised hordes to feel that they are participating in democracies. Which of course they are.
    Victor Pelevin has an interesting hypothesis regarding the watching of television, where the viewer is no longer homo sapiens but the virtual reality state of Homo Zapiens, a kind of equivalent of spirit possession but without the spirit bit.

  2. however, is CBB any worse than Eastenders?

    This was all the rage 20 years ago. In 20 years time it will be something different.

    If our ignorant bretheren wish to entertain themselves by watching this rubbish then let them.

    Better than feeding Christians to the Lions.

  3. Perhaps in another twenty years we will be able to choose to watch absolutely anything we want - everything will be filmed twenty-four hours a day. For example, we could tune-in to what's going next door or in the the newsagent down the road or in a bush in the local park. However, most of us will probably choose to watch ourselves, watching ourselves, watching...just to make sure we look our best!