Research for introduction

For my section of the presentation I will be introducing our project and some of the theories we have been looking at. To explore more of the paradoxical relationship between the documentary and social media I read Baudrillard’s ‘Simulacra and Simulations’ essay. I pulled out some of the quotes that I think might be most useful for the presentation:

  • ‘Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.’ – I think we can argue that Fyre Festival itself is an example of hyperreality because it was a situation that became so distanced from the reality (the referent) that is no longer truly existed. We could evidence this using the scene in the documentary where someone mentions that the real Fyre Festival did take place in the form of the promo shoot, which itself is a signifier
  • ‘simulation threatens the difference between “true” and “false”, between “real” and “imaginary”’
  • Baudrillard defines simulacra as when the image no longer bears any reference to reality
  • Baudrillard’s main example in the essay is Disneyland which he describes as ‘no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology), but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real’ – again I think we can compare this to Fyre Festival, but more specifically how the documentary continues to perpetuate this idea of something that is no longer real (and never was), similar to how other social media presents a distorted version of reality
  • ‘Of the same order as the impossibility of rediscovering an absolute level of the real, is the impossibility of staging an illusion. Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible.’ – related to the point above, if social media has already distorted reality, how can we say that Netflix isn’t depicting a realistic portrayal since the subject matter has already shown this no longer exists
  • Baudrillard also notes that it is impossible to prove something is a simulation and this has real-world consequences. I think this is very clear in relation to Fyre: ‘‘The simulation of an offence, if it is patent, will either be punished more lightly (because it has no “consequences”) or be punished as an offence to public office (for example, if one triggered off a police operation “for nothing”) – but never as simulation, since it is precisely as such that no equivalence with the real is possible, and hence no repression either.’ – I think we could use this to maybe explore why the documentary doesn’t treat Fyre as such a serious crime especially in contrast to the Hulu documentary

I also read the article ‘Social Dimension of Media Space in the Age of Postmodernity In the Context of Objective Knowledge Obtainment’ by Denis Chistyakov (2016) in which he uses the theories of both Baudrillard and McLuhan. Some key points from this:

  • ‘Generated media messages, images, symbols and signs not only form the basis of perception of social facts and processes, but also become a key to understanding the contemporary social reality and sometimes can even replace reality itself in an individual’s mind.’ – if Netflix is included in these messages in the same way as the original Fyre social media marketing this only further complicates the idea of an objective reality
  • Using McLuhan’s argument – ‘Public opinion is being formed gradually and systematically depending on the purpose of its formation and the level / degree of needed manipulative influence on the society. As a result, an individual nowadays has almost no possibility to distinguish objective reality from its simulation, imitation, and fine substitution.’
  • ‘Society lives in a sign-symbolic environment filled with a world of images, simulations, and imitations. Cyberspace and virtualization blur the boundaries between real life and simulation and between objective reality and its illusory image.’

Another article that might be more useful for the parts of the presentation looking at memes is Kate Nash’s ‘What is interactivity for? The social dimension of web-documentary participation’ (2014) where she talks about the social function of documentaries and how this has changed as they get more interactive.

  • ‘interactive documentary as a relational entity that, unlike the film or television text, does not exist independently but rather relies on the collective agency of user, author and system’ – I think we could make the argument that ‘Fyre’ the documentary becomes an interactive web-documentary because of the way it combines the author (FuckJerry), the system (Netflix) and the viewer and this then prompts further responses on social media
  • ‘documentary participants are often motivated by a sense that their participation will impact political debate. In the case of web-documentary, participation through media is potentially extended to audiences through activities such as creating, commenting on and sharing content’ – making memes of the Netflix documentary is a creative way to enter the debate around the festival itself  
  • ‘Might web-documentary, in its ability to tap into the interests and practices of participatory audiences, be better placed to engage audiences as active members of a community of concern?’ – We could connect this to the crowdfunding campaign for Maryann Rolle
  • ‘I propose that the ways in which documentary makers position and seek to engage audiences reflect the documentary drive to record, foster civic participation and persuade.’ – possibly not for ‘Fyre’ which seems to be more about entertainment/profit

Leave a Reply