Jean Baudrillard and Film Theory

Unlike a number of his contemporaries, Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) does not provide a single, systematic theory of cinema. Instead, his comments are scattered across a range of works, taking the variant forms of brief asides, longer analyses and remarks made during interviews. Importantly, these fragments cannot be pieced together to form a consistent, coherent whole. Even Baudrillard‘s frequently professed “preference for American cinema” (Gane 1993: 67) is continually undercut by his negative assessment of “New Hollywood”.1 As William Merrin notes, “This preference is complicated … by Baudrillard‘s criticism of contemporary film-making and in particular of that style found precisely in the Hollywood films he … claims to prefer” (2005:122). While this inconsistency might be dismissed as yet another instance of Baudrillard’s deployment  of wilful contradiction, we shall see that the diverse elements informing his analysis of Hollywood cinema actually offer very different ways of conceptualizing the advent of the postmodern.

Baudrillard‘s affection for New Hollywood is unusual in contemporary philosophy and cultural criticism. Interview material stresses the intuitive basis for his comments on Hollywood. “My relationship to the cinema is that of an untutored cinema-goer … and I have always wanted to keep it that way, never wanting to get into the analytic of it” (Baudrillard, in Gane 1993: 67). However, the division between the personal and the theoretical set up during this interview from the mid-1980s is not sustained. Indeed, Baudrillard’s condemnation of The Matrix Trilogy for failing to present his ideas correctly clearly subjects the films to theoretical analysis (Baudrillard 2004).2

In contrast to Douglas Kellner‘s linear account of the development of Baudrillard‘s thought and ideas, we shall see that Baudrillard‘s theorization of cinema keeps a number of conflicting modes of analysis in play simultaneously. This will be done by focusing on publications from the late 1970s and 1980s: specifically Seduction, which was first published in 1979 (English translation 1990), Simulacra and Simulation published in 1981 (English translation 1994), and America published in 1986 (English translation 1988), along with interviews from the mid-1980s (Gane 1993). Within film theory and cultural studies, Hollywood cinema has been conceptualized as the epitome of modernity (Hansen 2000). However, Baudrillard ‘s analyses offer entirely different and contrary constructions of Hollywood as a variant of the pre-modern and the gateway to the postmodern.

In an article for the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Kellner argues that Baudrillard ‘s work of the 1970s is marked by the development of two key distinctions: pre-modern versus modern, and modern versus postmodern (2006: 13). For Kellner, the first distinction is developed across a number of works, including The Mirror of Production (1975) and Symbolic Exchange and Death (1993). For Baudrillard, the modern is synonymous with the advent of capitalism and its associated values of “production, utility and instrumental rationality” (Kellner 2006: 11). By contrast, the pre-modern cultural forms of myth and ceremony are said to constitute modes of symbolic exchange that are outside capitalist production and the linear accumulation of meaning. “This is the metabolism of exchange, prodigality, festival – and also of destruction (which returns to non-value what production has erected, valorized)” (Baudrillard 1981, quoted in Kellner 2006: 10).

While the characterization of symbolic exchange as excessive and prodigal clearly draws heavily on Friedrich Nietzsche‘s conception of the Dionysian, Kellner notes that Baudrillard also takes up “Bataille’s aristocratic critique’ of capitalism” (2006:10- 11). As a result, capitalism is criticized for being “grounded in … crass notions of utility and savings rather than … aristocratic’ notions of excess and expenditure” (ibid.: 10). Kellner thus positions Baudrillard’s early work within a French tradition that valorizes features of “primitive” cultures. “Baudrillard’s defense of symbolic exchange over production and instrumental rationality … stands in the tradition of Rousseau’s defense of the natural savage’ over modern man [and] Durkheim‘s posing organic solidarities of premodern societies against the abstract individualism and anomie of modern ones” (ibid.: 12).

Kellner argues that Baudrillard moves away from the discourse of symbolic exchange as an alternative to production, replacing it with the concept of seduction in his work of that name in 1979 (2006: 20). However, Seduction also takes up the previous distinction between the aristocratic and the bourgeois, reworking it as a division between two orders (Baudrillard 1990:1). Seduction is the artificial “order … of signs and rituals” epitomized by femininity, duelling, challenge and reversibility; whereas production is the natural order epitomized by the discourses of commerce and psychoanalysis {ibid:. 2, 39-43). The focus on artifice and ritual clearly links the concept of seduction with the pre-modern forms of myth, festival and ceremony. For Kellner, Seduction is a detour away from Symbolic Exchange and Death and Simulacra and Simulation, which set up the second key distinction between modern societies organized around capitalist production and postmodern societies structured around simulation (2006: 13-14).

In his account of Baudrillard, Kellner argues that the progression from the first distinction, pre-modern-modern, to the second, modern-postmodern, constitutes a crucial break. This is because the move into the postmodern is construed as the end of Baudrillard‘s presentation of viable alternatives to capitalism. In a mediasaturated society, where the masses are fascinated by the endless play and proliferation of images, “the referent, the behind and the outside, along with depth, essence, and reality all disappear, and with their disappearance, the possibility of all potential opposition vanishes as well” {ibid.: 17-18). The artificial order of Seduction is dismissed by Kellner as “a soft alternative”: a bad copy of the truly differential modalities of symbolic exchange {ibid.: 20). For Kellner, Baudrillard briefly hovers “between nostalgia and nihilism” between “a … desire to return to pre-modern cultural forms” and the gleeful extermination of modern ideas: “the subject, meaning, truth, reality, society, socialism, emancipation”, finally abandoning his “desperate search for a genuinely radical alternative … by the early 1980s” {ibid.: 18).

While Kellner’s article is one of the clearest accounts of the development of a challenging theorist, the division of Baudrillard’s work into different epochs becomes much more difficult to sustain when focusing on the writing on cinema. Baudrillard relates cinema to the pre-modern forms of ceremony and myth as well as arguing that New Hollywood ushers in the postmodern era of simulation through its role in the creation of the hyperreal. Moreover, the conception of a clear break is problematic because key concepts associated with the pre-modern are used in Baudrillards writing on cinema in the late 1970s and across the 1980s. In an interview from 1982, Baudrillard comments: “The Cinema is absolutely irreplaceable, it is our own special ceremonial… The ceremonial of the cinema … that quality of image, of light, that quality of myth, that hasn’t gone” (Gane 1993: 31). Merrin argues that Baudrillard‘s conception of cinemas distinctive form of ceremonial draws on Emile Durkheim in that it constitutes a mode of “collective communion… a ritual and mythic form actualizing… the collective dreams … of our society” (Merrin 2005:122). Importantly, the sense of cinema as offering a pre-modern mode of collectivity is repeated in a later interview from 1984. Here Baudrillard recollects viewing Star Wars “in cinemas with 4,000 seats and everybody eating popcorn” as a moment in which he “caught a very strong whiff of primitive cinema, almost a communal affair but strong, intense” (Gane 1993: 67, emphasis added).

Baudrillard’s characterization of cinema links its status as image to the realm of myth, repeating the following observation: “the cinema is … endowed with an intense imaginary – because it is an image. This is not simply to speak of film as a mere screen or visual form, but as a myth” (Baudrillard 1990: 162, repeated in Gane 1993: 69; Baudrillard 1994: 51). In Seduction the mythic aspect of cinema lies in its creation of stars, who constitute “our only myth in an age incapable of generating great myths or figures of seduction comparable to those of mythology or art” (1990: 95). Cinema is presented as a postmodern variant of pre-modern forms, combining and reworking myth and communion.3 Baudrillard contrasts the “hot” seductions of ancient mythology with the “cold” seduction offered by contemporary stars who constitute “the intersection point of two cold mediums,… the image and … the masses” {ibid). The cool allure of the female star is that of “a ritual fascination with the void … This is how she achieves mythic status and becomes subject to collective rites of sacrificial adulation” (ibid.).4 Importantly, the fascination exerted by stars cannot be dismissed as mere delusion, “the dreams of the mystified masses” (ibid.), because Baudrillard presents seduction as the collective celebration of pure artifice from which there is no awakening to the truth.

Baudrillard‘s conception of both cinema and its stars as cool, shimmering, artificial surfaces (ibid.: 96) constructs them as key sites of the end of signification, in that they constitute the appearance of the signifier without the signified. Production rests on the concepts of exchange – goods for money, words for meanings – and accumulation – wealth, savings and full understanding. Seduction is the annulment of production, taking the linguistic form of “a radically different operation that absorbs rather than produces meaning” (ibid.: 57). The annulment of meaning is performed by key concepts, such as stars, which are repeatedly defined in terms of pure negation, as “void” or “absence” (ibid.: 95-6), thereby playing out the inversion of production: “[Great stars] … are dazzling in their nullity… They turn into a metaphor the immense glacial process which has seized hold of our universe of meaning … but… at a specific historical conjuncture that can no longer be reproduced, they transform it into an effect of seduction” (ibid.: 96). Baudrillard‘s words suggest that it is stars and the cinema that have transformed signs and images into the artificial order of the pure image: the depthless, fascinating, celluloid surface.

The analysis of the cinema as a realm of transformation is continued in Simulacra and Simulation. However, in the later work signs and metaphors become spectacle rather than artifice. Transformed into cinematic image, monstrosity is no longer threatening or mythic but spectacular: “a King Kong wrenched from his jungle and transformed into a music-hall star” (1994:135). The loss of the construction of monstrosity as a “natural” threat is played out in Baudrillard’s reading of King Kong.5 Traditionally, the hero’s annihilation or vanquishing of the monster constitutes the beginning of culture, suggesting that Kong’s attack on the city marks the return of nature. However, the postmodern annihilation of the category of nature means that Baudrillard reads Kong’s attack as an attempt to deliver us from a dead culture. Piling inversion upon inversion, Baudrillard reads the film as a key example of seductive reversibility. “The profound seduction of the film comes from this inversion of meaning: all inhumanity has gone over to the side of men, and all humanity has gone over to the side of captive bestiality … monstrous seduction of one order by the other” (ibid.).

Baudrillard’s positive conception of cinema as a fascinating, seductive, artificial realm frequently occurs in tandem with negative analyses of the “new” medium of television. As pure image, the cinema “is blessed … with an intense imaginary”, its mythic qualities ensuring that it retains “something of the double, of the phantasm, of the mirror, of the dream” (ibid.: 51). By contrast, television “no longer conveys an imaginary, for the simple reason that it is no longer an image (1990: 162). At stake here is the issue of distance, a gulf between the real and the image, or the division between the productive order of signs, signifiers and signifieds and the seductive order of pure images. As our phantasm/reflection/dream, the cinematic image offers us a separate double that is both ourselves and not ourselves, setting up a space for the play of the imaginary across the different orders. In an interview from 1984 Baudrillard adds: “in order to have an image you must have a scene, a certain distance without which there can be no looking, no play of glances … I find television obscene, because there is no stage, no depth, no place for a possible glance and therefore no place … for a possible seduction” (Gane 1993: 69, emphasis added).

Television is obscene because it elides distance and renders every intimate detail of life visible and immediate. The television screen is mesmeric because it is “immediately located in your head … it transistorizes all the neurons and passes through like a magnetic tape – a tape not an image” (Baudrillard 1994: 51). Lacking the distance vital to the construction of the image and the imaginary, television reconfigures the subject as another screen and/or terminal This analysis of the television screen underpins Baudrillard’s later comments on computers in Cool Memories II: 1987-1990: “At the computer screen I look for the film and find only the subtitles. The text on the screen is neither a text nor an image – it is a transitional object… which has meaning only in refraction from one screen to another, in inarticulate, purely luminous signalling terms” (1996: 2). The later argument utilizes the previous opposition between cinema and the screen, reworking it as the opposition between image and digital signal.

In the analyses of cinema versus the screen and/or terminal, Baudrillard presents the cinema as a different visual order. Cinema can offer a dialectical play between image and reality, or a seductive play of the surface that annuls the production of depth. The opposition cinema-television results in a particular invective against films that adopt “televisual” techniques of presentation (Gane 1993: 71). Thus, Sex Lies and Videotape (dir. Steven Soderbergh, 1989) is singled out for its reduction of the seductive cinematic image to a state of “video-indifference” through its thematic rendering of seduction via a video camera (Baudrillard 1996: 68). Importantly, the opposition cinema-television pivots on a key point: cinema is always associated with distance while television closes the gap, fusing the image and the real, and thus ushering in what Baudrillard terms the hyperreal (1994: 30; Gane 1993: 69). Key passages from Seduction and Simulacra and Simulation, coupled with interviews from the 1980s, clearly set up an opposition between cinema, which retains pre-modern elements of ceremony, ritual and myth, and the new medium of television, whose role in the creation of the hyperreal marks the break between the modern and the postmodern.6

The opposition cinema-television is (inevitably) checked and balanced by other analyses in Simulacra and Simulation in which cinema plays a crucial role ushering in the postmodern. In a chapter entitled History: A Retro Scenario, Baudrillard argues that cinema and photography are responsible for the destruction of history and thus of myth. “History is … perhaps, along with the unconscious, the last great myth. It is a myth that once subtended the possibility of an objective’ enchainment of events and causes … The age of history … is also the age of the novel” (1994: 47). The passage marks a shift in the meaning of “myth” from the references to specific Greek myths in Seduction to a particular quality of narrative (1990: 67-9, 95). “It is this fabulous character, the mythical energy of an event, or of a narrative, that today seems to be increasingly lost” (1994: 47, emphasis added). Photography and cinema are responsible for the loss of the mythic form of history as narrative “by fixing it in its visible objective’ form” {ibid.: 48). In this way, the flow and energy of narrative are frozen into stills and photomontages, which will act as true historical “data” from now on.

The initial shift from history as myth to history as data results in “the obsession with historical fidelity, with a perfect rendering” that is exemplified by the cinematic remake {ibid.: 47). The remake is a faithful rendition of a past that has already ossified into its objective form. For Baudrillard, such films act as evidence of a more widespread “negative and implacable fidelity to … a particular scene of the past or of the present, to the restitution of an absolute simulacrum of the past or the present” {ibid.: AH). The perfect reconstructions offered by films such as Chinatown (dir. Roman Polanski, 1974), Three Days of the Condor (dir. Sydney Pollack, 1975), Barry Lyndon (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1975), All the President’s Men (dir. Alan J. Pakula, 1976) and The Last Picture Show (dir. Peter Bogdanovich, 1971) serve to play out the death of history twice over (Baudrillard 1994: 45). In offering reconstructions of a simulacral past, such films ensure that history can only make “its triumphal entry into cinema, posthumously” {ibid.: 44).

Baudrillard’s presentation of cinema and photography as the media that killed history by turning myth into simulation intersects with another major line of argument about the advent of the postmodern. The move away from the modern is repeatedly presented as the result of the rise of new technologies and the concomitant fascination with technical and technological perfection. The film remake is thus the site of the resurrection of the ghost of history and a demonstration of new forms of technical perfection. Writing on The Last Picture Show, Baudrillard comments: “it was a little too good … without the psychological, moral and sentimental blotches of films of that era. Stupefaction when one discovers it is a 1970s film, perfect retro, purged, pure, the hyperrealist restitution of 1950s cinema” {ibid.: 45). Importantly, the perfected form offered by the remake is repeatedly characterized in terms of absence and loss: no more errors, psychology or play of the imaginary and/or imagination. In an interview given the year after the publication of Simulacra and Simulation, Baudrillard adds: “Cinema has become hyper-realist, technically sophisticated, effective … All the films are good’ … But they fail to incorporate any element of make-believe {I’imaginaire). As if the cinema were basically regressing towards infinity, towards … a formal, empty perfection” (Gane 1993: 30).

The drive towards technical perfection obliterates both history and meaning. Directors who epitomize this tendency are characterized as overly logical, pursuing the “pleasure of machination” rather than aesthetics (Baudrillard 1994: 46). Thus Kubrick, “who manipulates his film like a chess player, who makes an operational scenario out of history” (ibid.), creates a product that is perfect yet empty. Barry Lyndon is said to mark the beginning of “an era of films that… no longer have meaning strictly speaking, an era of great synthesizing machines of varying geometry” (ibid.). The quote characterizes contemporary films as both machinic and mathematical, their final form mirroring the qualities of their directors. Importantly, their synthesizing role is the antithesis of the differential nature of the structuralist model of opposition that is the basis of meaning creation in language. By bringing together opposing elements, contemporary films short-circuit the structures of meaning itself, thus becoming meaningless.

In a later discussion of Francis Ford Coppola in Simulacra and Simulation, Baudrillard draws together his key theses concerning the rise of new technologies and the consequent destruction of history and the structures of binary opposition. The brief analysis of Apocalypse Now (dir. Coppola, 1979) can also be seen as a prequel to Baudrillards later work The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1995). In summary, the argument is that both events, the Vietnam War and the later film, are rendered fundamentally equivalent in that they simply constitute test sites for new technologies.

Coppola does nothing but… test the impact of a cinema that has become an immeasurable machinery of special effects … his film is really the extension of the war through other means … The war became film, the film becomes war, the two are joined by their common hemorrhage into technology. (Baudrillard 1994: 59)

The commonality of the war and the film is not said to play out the destruction of meaning, but rather to mark the end of any moral distinction between good and evil. In this way, the loss of any ontological difference between the historical event of the war and the filmic images is also the loss of ethical difference in the form of an objective distinction between right and wrong. The similarity between the war and the film demonstrates “the reversibility of both destruction and production, of the immanence of a thing in its very revolution … of the carpet of bombs in the strip of film” (ibid.: 60). Importantly, this instance of reversibility differs from seduction, whose process of annulment also marks the beginning of a different order. In this case, the reversibility is systemic, a turning inside out, which demonstrates the fundamental equivalence of both terms as products of the same system. It marks the loss of any possibility of revolution in that there is no way of accessing the outside or creating an alternative.

Baudrillard repeats the assertion that technological perfection marks the end of cinema as image in his later work from the 1990s. The key features of his line of argument reappear in an interview from 1991.

As for the cinema, I am still very much in love with it, but it has reached a despairing state … Here, too, huge machines are set up which possess great technical refinement. This is a racket on images, on the imaginary of people. Cinema has become a spectacular demonstration of what one  can do with the cinema …. Everything is possible, its obvious … there is no magic in it except, well, a mechanical magic … there are only superb demonstrations; it’s performance, that is all. (Gane 1993: 23)

The comment replays the move from the cinematic image to the machinic “racket on images” with its negative associations of noise and commercial racketeering. Cinema as spectacle can only demonstrate its own capabilities, marking the shift from the mythic to mathematical performance indicators. In this quotation, the annihilation of the pre-modern elements is presented as a loss of magic. Importantly, Merrin argues that such comments make it easy to predict Baudrillard’s position on the current rise of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in Hollywood films. He suggests that the dominance of CGI would be regarded as a further example of the “hyperclean, hyperliteral perfection of the digital image”, which destroys the image, the imaginary, the symbolic and illusion (Merrin 2005: 122-3).

Baudrillard suggests that it might be possible to conjoin his rather different theses about the nature of cinema by using them to form a single, linear model of development: “The cinema and its trajectory: from the most fantastic or mythical to the realistic and the hyperrealistic” (1994: 46). The shift to realism does not form a proper second stage because the attempt to capture “reality” through “banality, … veracity, … naked obviousness,… boredom” and the endeavour to be “the real, the immediate, the unsignified” are dismissed by Baudrillard as “the craziest of undertakings” (ibid.: 46-7). Thus all efforts to capture and/or be the real simply result in its reconstruction as cinematic image. Moreover, in attempting to achieve “an absolute correspondence with the real, cinema also approaches an absolute correspondence with itself – and this is not contradictory: it is the very definition of the hyperreal… Cinema plagiarizes and copies itself, … remakes its classics, retroactives its original myths, … etc.” (ibid.: 47). In this comment the hyperreal is associated with the self-reflexive duplication of images. Thus the remake ushers in the hyperreal because it is a self-conscious, perfect copy of a previous film, rather than a perfect reconstruction of a simulacral historical era.

However, Baudrillards brief assessment of the linear trajectory of cinema needs to be treated with caution. The singularity is misleading because there is more than one trajectory to the hyperreal. Within Simulacra and Simulation, films create the hyperreal through die destruction of history, the destruction of key oppositions underpinning our conceptions of meaning and morality, and the self-reflexive duplication of previous films. Moreover, in later books and interviews, Baudrillard argues that the cinema ushers in the hyperreal through an inversion of the standard mimetic relation between the image and reality (1988: 55-6; Gane 1993: 34). Instead of acting as a copy of the real, the cinematic image becomes the model through which we measure the real, a precession of simulacra that results in the cinematographization of reality. This view is most famously expressed in the travelogues in which Baudrillard cheerfully treats America as though it were a film.

It is not the least of Americas charms that … the whole country is cinematic. The desert you pass through is like the set of a Western, the city a screen of signs and formulas. The American city seems to have stepped straight out of the movies. To grasp its secret, you … should begin with the screen and move outwards to the city. (Baudrillard 1988: 56)

Importantly, this conception of the cinematographization of everyday life challenges the linear model of cinemas development because the move into the hyperreal does not constitute the end of the fantastic or the mythical. In America, Baudrillard argues: “the cinema does not assume an exceptional form, but simply invests the streets and the entire town with a mythical atmosphere” {ibid). Interview material from 1984 also suggests that the cinematic hyperreal marks the conjunction of the postmodern with the pre-modern forms of communion and collectivity. “Cinema is the mode of expression one finds in the street, everywhere; life itself is cinematographic and, what’s more, that is what makes it possible to bear it; otherwise the mass daily existence would be unthinkable. This dimension is part and parcel of collective survival” (Gane 1993: 71, emphasis added). This quotation differs from the ones discussed previously in that the ceremonial of cinema is not situated in the shared viewing experience of the audience. Interestingly, the analysis augments the Dionysian aspect of the pre-modern forms of symbolic exchange in that the account of the cinematic hyperreal closely resembles Nietzsche’s analysis of the affirming power of the Apollonian as: “the countless illusions of the beauty of mere appearance that at every moment make life worth living at all and prompt the desire to live on” (1967:143).

In linking the hyperreal with a positive mode of collectivity and an affirming model of illusion, Baudrillard breaks away from his typically nihilistic presentation of the postmodern. This particular model of life as cinema can therefore be seen to challenge Kellner‘s conception of Baudrillard as a theorist who hovers between a nostalgia for the pre-modern and a nihilistic extermination of the modern (2006: 18). At this point the conception of the postmodern as an ending is fundamentally reworked, reconstructing it as a new beginning. At the same time, the pre-modern forms to which we return, both Dionysian and Apollonian, have, in their turn, been reworked by their positioning within the advent of the postmodern and the formation of the hyperreal.

The diversity of Baudrillard’s writing on cinema can therefore be seen to present key moments that do not conform to the lines of argument offered elsewhere in his writing. The presentation of the transformation of life into the cinematic image is utterly unlike the short-circuiting of the reality-image dichotomy offered by the tape and/or signal that constitutes television. In an interview from 1982, Baudrillard presents the cinematographization of everyday life as a productive interplay between the image and the real. Driving around Los Angeles or visiting the desert,

you … are in a film … sometimes you see scenes that begin strangely to resemble scenes in films. And this play … is one element of cinema … it is a role that has nothing to do with Art or Culture, but which is nevertheless deep: cinema has a profound effect on our perception of people and things, and of time too. (Gane 1993: 31, emphasis added)

In this quotation, the precession of the filmic image transforms our perception of the real, making reality strange, and thereby constructing another perspective on the world and others.

Importantly, the capacity of the filmic image to offer a different perception of reality constructs our entry into the hyperreal as a kind of perspectival shift. Kellner argues that Baudrillards focus on the division between the modern and the postmodern marks the end of viable alternatives to the system in that we are all contained within “a carnival of mirrors, reflecting images projected from other mirrors onto the omnipresent television and computer screen and the screen of consciousness” (2006: 18). While it must be acknowledged that this analysis is broadly applicable to a number of Baudrillard s key arguments, including the end of history and the rise of technological perfection, it overlooks the ways in which the hyperreal itself is (occasionally) constructed as a differential mode of viewing. While there is no outside, there is depth, in that the shift of perspectives is presented as a profound change. For Kellner, change can lie only with the possibility of “disalienation, liberation and revolution” (2006: 18), an escape from the system itself. What Baudrillards writing on life as cinema offers us is a rare sense of the hyperreal as a perspectival shift that affirms life – “makes it possible to bear it” (Gane 1993: 71) – and thus as a potential site of positive change.

J.-BaudrillardSource: Colman, F. (2014). Film, theory and philosophy. London: Routledge.

NOTES 1. The term “New Hollywood” is used within film studies to refer to a time (beginning around the late 1960s and continuing to the present day) when economic and social factors led to the diminishment of the power of the studios. New Hollywood covers the development of aesthetic forms challenging the classical paradigm, and new economic forms such as the blockbuster and its related media tie-ins; G. King, New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007), 1-84.
2. For a different, positive analysis of the ways in which The Matrix Trilogy offers a complex take-up of Baudrillards Simulacra and Simulation see C. Constable, Adapting Philosophy: Jean Baudrillard and “The Matrix Trilogy” (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009).
3. I have presented seduction as postmodern because production is clearly associated with the modern.
4. For a more detailed discussion of Baudrillards figure of the seductress and female stars see my Thinking in Images: Film Tlieory, Feminist Philosophy and Marlene Dietrich (London: BFI, 2005), 138-62.
5. It is not clear whether this reference is to the RKO film of 1933 directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack or the 1976 film directed by John Guillermin. Given Baudrillards preference for films of the 1970s, it is more likely to be the latter.
6. “The Orders of Simulacra” offers one of the few exceptions to the oppositional presentation of cinema and television. In this case, Baudrillard s analysis of film as a “test” that sets up a yes/no response is heavily reliant on Walter Benjamin (J. Baudrillard, Simulations, P. Foss, P. Patton & P. Beitchman [trans.] [New York: Semiotext(e), 1983], 117-19).

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Categories: Film Theory, Literary Criticism, Literary Theory, Media Theory, Postmodernism

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