Jean-François Lyotard is our third theorist. He had some pretty radical things to say about post modern society.
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 .
To Lyotard a ‘meta-narrative’ means, a view of the world and what is considered natural, right or inherently true.
Illustrations from Films
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’.
Lyotard on Narratives
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?
- Just think about the tragic news of the Love Island celebrity last year – the grand narrative of celebrity – tragically exploded.
- 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 individuals.