POMO – The collapse of “Meta Narratives” – Lyotard

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 thatAll 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’Film Grand 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.

POMO – reality TV on demand – hypereality is the norm!


Now you can get ‘reality on demand’ for just £3.99 a month!  Really? Reality on demand? Or constructed reality on demand – that’s more like it!  What would Baudrillard think of the new channel where you can see all the reality TV you want on demand?  He would be horrified.  A whole new world, where constructed reality, hypereality becomes the norm.



POMO – Made in Chelsea – A Baudrillardrian Nightmare!!!!!!



In case TOWIE turns your stomach….you could choose to talk about MiC instead. Just a posher version of TOWIE – that’s all.

Above is a really good blog post on hypereality and Made in Chelsea.

Made in Chelsea paints a very vivid picture of the rich and elite in London. From an outsider looking in, it suggests to a large extent that all ‘English’ people live this way. I have friends from different countries who have said to me ‘Is that what England is like?’ (referring to the show) …well quite simply no. London is very diverse and has many different cultures, yet Made in Chelsea does not have one ethnic person in the show. Whilst it is true that Chelsea is very elite, not everyone who lives there is white (believe it or not). Yet the programme tells another story.

This show definitely blurs the distinction between fiction and documentary and soap opera. The cast are exposed by producers in a certain way to show them off as distinct characters that the audience can relate to for entertainment purposes. Spencer is shown as the ‘villain’ of the show, Jamie, Proudlock and Francis are shown as the ‘laddish’ bachelors and the girls Lucy, Rosie and Louise etc. are the upper class women, who are obsessed with material possessions and their taste in fashion is nothing less than a six figure digit. The whole aesthetic of the programme is to exude wealth, high society members and their lavish lifestyles, which is somewhat a fantasy for many of the viewers.

Consumer Culture – features all the right brands: Harrods, Dorchester Hotel, Sloane Square etc. The programme is even sponsored by Rimmel – Get the London Look. You too could be this gorgeous!

Hegemony – capitalist, bourgeois, conservative view on life. Work hard and you too could be like this. The fact that most of the characters are wealthy by inheritance and none of them seem to do a day’s work between them is irrelevant. Capitalism pays off and MiC is evidence of this (the fact that it is completely constructed and contrived should not deter you from aspiring to this lifestyle). This is quite a good powerpoint on examples of ‘hegemony’ in action – it is very USA based but you will get the idea of how the messages of what is right, expected and wrong are constantly reinforced from ‘up above’ or ‘elsewhere’ although there are some steps to counteract this mindset, as you will see at the end of the presentation.

Hypereality – the blurring between the real people and their on screen characters is blurred. This is endorsed by them tweeting when it is unclear as to whether they are ‘in character’ or as themselves.  We talk about them as though they are real.

Simulacra – the original becomes irrelevant.  We believe the simulated world. This is how it is. We value the simulated world more than we do the ‘real’ world.

Watch any of the other ‘scripted reality’ TV shows – The Real Housewives series, Geordie Shore, The Only Way is Essex and you will see exactly the same elements that indicate they are part of this type of postmodern phenomena.

The other TV shows – so called ‘reality fly on the wall’ shows – that are less scripted i.e. KUWTK, Dance Moms, Teen Mom are still no less constructed.  See an extract below from an article that outlines how the new series of Teen Mom will now be produced without the 4th wall.

Are you happy this season breaks the fourth wall and shows production?

I love it. Before, such a huge part of our life was hidden and it was hard to be 100 percent real because we’re pretending we’re not on TV or that we don’t have a million followers on Twitter. Also, there are many situations in the past when we’re filming a scene and we’re aggravated and all of our anger is escalated because there are people in your house, audio, lights, cameras and then you have a kid running around who can’t get up because [production] doesn’t want to mess up the scene, so on top of the aggravation from what’s really going on, you have all this other sh–. It’ll really show how overwhelming being on a TV show is.

This is evidence that the TV show was completely constructed – think about it – the baby is crying but the camera crew is not ready so you can’t pick up the baby to comfort it.  How ‘managed’ ‘unreal’ the footage must have been.

These shows created a ‘preferred reality’ as it has more drama, tension and clashes. When Big Brother started out, they made the fatal mistake of not choosing characters that were interesting enough to sustain an audience. Now, they deliberately choose participants who will create drama and increase viewing figures.

But what is it about our voyeuristic tendencies?  Even in Roman times we loved seeing people fight to the death in the arena, Have we really not come that far from that kind of barbarity? Think of all the ‘pranked’ videos you watch online – enjoying laughing at people’s misfortune.

Perhaps we have not evolved as far as we had hoped in terms of being civilised.  It makes an uncomfortable thought.


POMO – Football, TV, Fifa & Hyper-Reality

I think that the way that football spectatorship has been copied & recopied by a succession of media texts has lead us to a state of hyper-reality. I’ll try to illustrate:

Grass roots / local football (The Real Thing)


The real thing, standing at the touchline watching a football game in real time, with no media to enhance our experience.

Stadium Football (The Real Thing Max)

Real Madrid CF Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid HDR

A spectator watches a football match from a static position in a stadium, often far away from the action, although the size of the occasion adds to the emotional impact of the spectacle. They watch the match in real time, although their spectatorship is enhanced by replays on a large screen. Also there is music and other entertainment to keep people occupied.

Football on TV – A copy of stadium max, maxed

Cutting to MCU to see individual players

Football on TV follows the action as if we were a spectator in the stands, but also cuts between different camera angles, gives us replays, a running commentary with extra information and ‘expert’ opinion gives us insights into the style of play and management decisions. Also creates player/celebrities and heightens drama .

Fifa – A copy of a copy of stadium max

Fifa simulates the football on TV experience, but goes further. The spectator is now the player, from the POV of a fan in the stands. Except now the camera tracks with the player that the audience is on control of. It includes the voice over commentary to simulate the TV watching experience. Players can play any team they like, play the role of the manager and also enter leagues and goals of the month competitions.

Fifa Communities

Fifa Community

Here is a community page about Fifa in which players organise Fifa tournaments, chat about Fifa, give each other tips, compare management strategies, compete in leagues with each other and other groups. Baudrillard would say that these people are in a state of Hyper-reality, where they feel involved in football but completely removed from the real thing and that don’t really understand football as it is in real life, only as it exists in the media.


POMO – Baudrillard (Jean – as in Zchun!) (bow-dree-yard)

Baudrillard is the next theorist we are going to explore in the unit on Postmodern Media.

He takes Jameson’s ideas about media and starts exploring what impact these will have on the audience. He suggested a number of key ideas:

Consumer Culture: We are living in a world in which we define ourselves through the product we buy and the brands we support. Consumption is not just about need, it’s also about personal identity.

Hegemony: That we are controlled / conditioned by the media, which encourages us to buy into a culturally dominant set of ideas, as Russell Brand said, ‘..to keep us spell bound and stupid, it’s bread and circuses.’

Simulacra: As Jameson says we have lost contact with the original idea (or referent) through the continued recycling of ideas and images. Baudrillard takes this one step further and suggests that we now believe that the copy of the copy of the copy is reality. We are like the prisoners in the Allegory of Plato’s Cave.

Hyper-Reality: By living in a world of recycled images and ideas that have lost the connection to the original idea/image we are the boundaries between reality and media reality are becoming blurred and confused. In other words, we are all residents in the media reality, which are merely shadows on the wall.

Here is a PowerPoint on these ideas and which gives two thought provoking examples:

Chained to the Rythmn, which you have already examined, includes many references both in its comments and the way it is constructed that would fit with Baudrillard’s criticisms of Postmodern Media and Postmodern times. Try and identify where she seems to be referring to Hyper-reality, Consumer Culture, Simulacra & Hegemony.

  • Hyper-reality – Theme Parks, Tablet obsession, 3D, Living life through the lens, living in a bubble.
  • Consumer Culture – Hamster Wheel, The American Dream,
  • Simulacra – Theme parks
  • Hegemony – Chained to the rythmn, you think you’re free, zombies, 2.4 Nuclear family.

What other ones are present?