Thursday, April 3, 2008


Activism is becoming more and more popular each day. Duncombe suggest something called progressive politics which takes elements of today’s society and implements key parts to help make their point.

Duncombe talks about politics in terms of ideals and how people need a platform which reflects the needs of the population they wish to lead. The leaders need to manifest the morals and norms of the culture in which they live. He states that “politicos don’t need to think much of popular culture, but they do need to think about it a lot” (Duncombe, 41). Along with this idea, the politics need to be a “popular […] democracy” (Duncombe, 32). These are both great examples which depict how popular culture is now leading our world, whether people want it to or not. There is no denying the power behind the industry and its members. Keeping activism in mind, this same idea that should be implemented in politics, and be replicated on the other side, the progressive side. By using celebrity and popular culture, activists can grab the attention and appeal to a larger audience. With this wide target group, the progressives can in turn raise awareness and make more movement towards their end goal.

Another tactic that Duncombe speaks of in “Dream” is the notion of Las Vegas and being fake. The city of Las Vegas exudes the technique of utilizing elements of places from around the world, allowing Las Vegas to be everything and everywhere. Take the Paris part, they have a L’arc du Triomphe, and an Eiffle Tower, just to name a few. This is the same idea for all of the world of entertainment of this time. From wrestling with Hulk Hogan and the Rock, to something as simple as reality television, fake television is dominating the airwaves. Take “The Hills”, a well known MTV reality television show. A spin-off of another show, they had a huge fan base. This did not suffer even after the cast admitted to staging all the scenes. “What is being sold, and what is being enjoyed, is illusion, but not delusion” (Duncombe, 42). Just because something is not real, does not mean the audience is not fully aware of this. They are just acknowledging the reference as real. Take satire, people are conscious (for the most part) of the humorous intentions behind it but they are still able to appreciate and consume the information. This idea of never forgetting that someone is in taking something fake stems from the playwright Bretch, who wanted people to remain responsive to what was going on, on stage as opposed to just accepting it. Bretch came up with the V-Effect, or the alienation effect, meaning the audience never forgets they are watching a play. In Duncombe’s case, this applies to examples such as Billionaires for Bush. These people were clearly costumed, yet it helped to get the message across.

Duncombe, Stephen. Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an age of fantasy. New York: The New Press, 2007.

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