Jean-François Lyotard is our third theorist. He had some pretty radical things to say about post modern society. Unlike Jameson and Baudrillard, he quite likes the idea of postmodernism!
He made the remarkable assertion that: All ideas of ‘the truth’ are just competing claims (or discourses) and what we believe to be the truth at any point is merely the ‘winning’ discourse.
So essentially, he is saying there is no such thing as any absolute universal truth (or meta narratives) on any subject .
The first thing to realise is that when Lyotard talks about ‘meta-narrative’, he is not using it in the sense of a narrative as we have studied it so far, i.e. a story that uses characters, conflict, events, structure… To Lyotard a ‘meta-narrative’ means, a view of the world and what is considered natural, right or inherently true.
Here is a great image which looks at the recurring ideas underpinning of Hollywood films, which have seem to suggest a simplified / mythical view of life and how things should resolve and which perhaps also communicate ideas which are widely held as being ‘true’, or in other words ‘meta-narratives’
What are the meta-narratives of school life – what do you, the teachers, the public perceive to be universally accepted truths about what happens here between 9 and 4 each day? How far are those preconceptions met or not met during the day?
Now, watch this video with Russel Brand talking to Jeremy Paxman about the phone call scandal which got him fired from the BBC & now the story was exaggerated by The Daily Mail, edited by Paul Dacre.
- Also what does Brand suggest about the meta narrative of celebrity?
- What does Brand mean by the idea of ‘cultural narrative’?
To develop Lyotard’s ideas. He said these meta narratives (sometimes called ‘grand narratives’) are large-scale theories and philosophies of the world, such as the progress of history, the knowability of everything by science, and the possibility of absolute freedom… Lyotard argues that we (society) have ceased to believe that ‘narratives’ of this kind are adequate and are true for all of us.
The result of this rejection of single universal ideas being true for all of us is reflected by and explored in media texts that are rebellious and subversive towards widely held views and ideas, as well to figures in positions of authority and a distrust of what they claim is right or true.
Think also about the various different shows that feature different types of families, groups or individual’s – we will be looking at The Simpsons in more depth.