Walter Benjamin has noted that mechanical reproduction has resulted in the retreat from reality. Indeed, the techno-formulation of reality, which is the mechnical reproduction of images, has served to change human perception. The problem of prime time television serves as an example of this reality, since it fosters graphic incoherence.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell provided the foundation for our understanding of how prime time television can deceive people. He demonstrates the important reality of how
tampering with language by the state can create the emergence of
"double think" as a form of the breakdown of rationality. In
other words, this helps us understand what is actually happening
today in our society. For instance, the popular acceptance of
lifestyle advertising in capitalist society is very much
connected to the reality that Orwell discussed.
The more we examine the way that the media works in capitalist society, the more we begin to understand that it is a process in which people are simply overwhelmed by a barrage of certain images.
Yet these images simply distort true reality. They are expressed within the confines of a very carefully chosen language. The viewers and consumers are hit so hard with this attack, that they are unable to decipher what is really going on. In this way, their perception is weakened, and so is their resistance to fight the process of indoctrination and social control.
What Walter Benjamin was really talking about was the reality of how desire is planted into consumers, and then they are sold what they are told that they want. This explains
why there exists a process where people lose a sense of self-identity and self-definition. (Itwaru, p.54). They see themselves through the lens that society creates for them, rather than seeing themselves through their own eyes.
Advertising is involved in this phenomenon. Many viewers
Come to believe that if they purchase a certain product, that
their lives will be changed for the better. Yet the problem is
that all viewers and consumers are being told the same thing.
What happens in this process is that a certain uniformity is
nurtured and free choice is minimized. In this way,
people think they are making rational choices, when in fact
their rationality has actually been broken down. This is the way
in which capitalist institutions impose a form of social
All of this is connected to how societal elites manipulate the language that the media utilizes. The media follows what societal elites instruct it to do. This is precisely what Orwell refers to in Nineteen Eighty Four, since he shows how the tampering with language by the state ends up with people not being able to make decisions for themselves. (Orwell) What is happening with lifestyle advertising is definitely an indication of this reality. The media, after all, follows certain rules of language. Individuals, therefore, end up having two contradictory beliefs in their minds, and they believe both at the same time. This is the very idea of Orwell's "double think." Even people who live in a "free" society become victims of this process, since they are brainwashed by certain messages in media images.
Thus, the popular acceptance of lifestyle advertising is very much connected to how the state and the media tamper with language. Indeed, as Orwell showed, when the state plays with language, it is able to break down rationality of citizens.
In this whole process in terms of the capitalist media, humans simply become commodities. Everything becomes about materialism and image, rather than the substance of true individual choice.
Consequently, we begin to understand how the tampering with
language by the state results in the emergence of double think
as a form of the breakdown of rationality. Walter Benjamin was
right, therefore, that mechanical reproduction results in
the retreat from reality.