Philosopher and hyperreality theorist Jean Baudrillard dies

Philosopher Jean Baudrillard, author of Simulacra and Simulation which was referenced in The Matrix, died Tuesday at age 77. His thinking on hyperreality has obvious connections to reality TV shows, and he once called wrote that one reality show was “a media illusion of live reality.”

His thinking about hyperreality “postulates that we live in a world where simulated feelings and experiences have replaced the real thing,” the New York Times notes in its obituary. “This seductive ‘hyperreality,’ where shopping malls, amusement parks and mass-produced images from the news, television shows and films dominate, is drained of authenticity and meaning. Since illusion reigns, he counseled people to give up the search for reality.”

Discussing the French version of Big Brother, Loft Story, in 2001, Baudrillard wrote that it “is a media illusion of live reality”:

“In this space, where everything is meant to be seen (as in ‘Big Brother’, other reality-TV shows, etc.), we realize that there is nothing left to see. It becomes a mirror of dullness, of nothingness, on which the disappearance of the other is blatantly reflected (even though the show alleges different objectives). It also reveals the possibility that human beings are fundamentally not social. This space becomes the equivalent of a “ready-made” just-as-is (telle quelle) transposition of an ‘everyday life’ that has already been trumped by all dominant models. It is a synthetic banality, fabricated in closed circuits and supervised by a monitoring screen.”

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