It is well known how much Borges influenced the poetic attitudes of the post-modern literary theorists and on the other side it is evident that the leading post-modern thinkers, especially the French have been widely accepted in the universities in America (with the recognizable American excess of enthusiasm). By Internet the term postmodernism is entering a global (worldwide) use, with particularly enlarged potential for informing the average consumer. Discussing the post-modernism becomes natural among so called laymen, who use the terms: inter-textual-ness, margin, patchwork, citation – a small arsenal for a primary education on the postmodernism. The change in the taste, characteristic for the XX century, (that Gillo Dorfles convincingly shows in the example of the reception of the modern art 1F) becomes at the end of the century mach more confusing.
On one side is the theory of literature with the ongoing influence and self-sufficiency of its meta-language, which apart of its intention to be categorical in a nonobligatory way is inclined to produce new terms. On the other side are the consumers of the literature, the readers, who, despite having passed the “first and second grade” of the postmodernism, enjoy in devouring the “enlightening” works of Coelho, Mandingo, Peck and particularly – in watching movies.
The visual communication is becoming the most practiced and the most exploited medium of the contemporary mass-culture. The consuming of movies, TV news, series, spots, political, sport or musical spectacles, almost always blended with technologically well designed advertisements, is day to day habit of the “average” TV consumer. The relation between that consumer and the so called “soap opera”, his imaginary living the lives of the protagonists of these forever going, predictable stories is often put under scrutiny. “The hero is some how immortal. He is an extended now, respectively nothing, “tree without roots”. By the reason that nothing happens to him (essence), everything could happen to him (essence). Often, in some series, happens that a hero is killed several times.
Even then, when in his underwear he falls from a plane, we don’t have to worry for him. Because he certainly will be back the next episode, where it will be shown how some bad guys are shooting him, apparently international terrorists from a left provenience 2F”. The absurdity of the plot of the “soap opera” is covered by its commercial value, measured by the number of the episodes filmed, and the ratings, supported in the media with equally absurd stories from “the life” of the protagonists, becomes a true and only way for the quick profit.
It is interesting to see how the film manages in front of the TV expansion, beside the evident fact that it fills the TV programs (most often through the numerous repetitions). The commercialization of the film seems to be linked with the underlining of the technical qualities. The most recent American, and under its influence a part of the European cinema is employing the new visual technologies (video games, Internet), against the standardization of the fable to the level of the simplest cliché. The massiveness of the film audience, versus such an aggressive competitor as the television, is due to the effective “package”, the exquisite computer processing of the movie. The financial result of such a well-designed product is indisputable.
But is the negative attitude toward this kind of artistic establishment in the contemporary TV and film industry entirely justified, taken into consideration the fact that it provides existence to thousands employees and enjoyment to hundreds of millions of consumers? The utilitarian manipulation in the media has always been there except today it is more aggressive and more effective. In some other spheres it probably appears more likable, although it possesses the same thirst for profit. For example, applying the works of the famous painters (Leonardo, Durer, Klimt, Miro, Dali, Picasso, Magritte) on porcelain cups, watches, shirts, umbrellas, pillows, envelopes, even on shower screens is out of self-interest, although the designing artistry leaves an impression of postmodernist intervention. Although in this case, it is not even so much about the “applied arts” as it is about using the arts for commercial purposes, the public with “postmodern education” can entirely justifiably accept it and appreciate it as an art. It seems that this is a good example for postmodern strategy in conquering the market. While the modernism with all its self-righteousness and scandalousness wanted to impose itself as an elitist, the postmodernism is widening its receptive plateau towards adaptable forms of a mass-culture. The modernism, even the most likable is adverse to the consuming society, the postmodernism, even in its “most detached” form, respects it.
From that point of view, the infection of the Western world with Internet begins to look like a consuming fever. The instant access to knowledge, that the Internet efficiency advertises, more and more is directed to the consuming (business) instead to the criterion.
In a typical Internet debate, the universal justice is not what is propagated, neither the meaning, but the opportunities. The surfing ensures such a free use of the opportunities.
The numerous users of the porn on Internet are one of the good examples for the safe and protected use of the “corrupted” merchandise. Unlike the customer of a porn-magazine or a video-tape, the consumer, here on Internet, makes his first contact without any embarrassment or restriction. Internet is offering that freedom – everyone can enjoy, or entertain or publish what he/she desires.
Internet completely integrates in the visual accumulative culture of the present day, indeed presenting a serious problem for the traditional book publishers. Since the earliest childhood, the future consumer is flooded with the visual invasion – TV, film, computers – that makes it very easy for him to enter the visual world and at the same time to get used to it. And now, in front of such a ready user, the world without borders is opening – Internet! Through the web page, the opportunity for positive self-presentation in front of the world is opened. With a little bit of attractive advertisement he/she can participate equally in the cultural presentation to the interested consumerists. Apparently Internet is really an able fighter against cementing the cultural differences and specifics, that are imposed by the “global village”. Unlike, for example, the new architecture in eastern-European metropolis, which despite the building enthusiasm usually resemblance some poor American suburb, the contents on Internet are obviously various, with respect to the diversity. The question, in all this abundance of supplying, can (maliciously) be directed to the criterion. In such an enormous system as Internet, any censorship, even self-censorship is spontaneously declining. It seems that the culturologists are right when they compare the introducing of Internet with a huge social experiment, regardless of whether we participate in it or not, whether we are favorable or critical toward it.
It, simply, shows the postmodernism in action, in its most consuming form.
Translated by: Katarina Cipuševa
1. Gillo Dorfles: “Oscilacije ukusa I moderne umjetnosti”, Mladost, Zagreb,1963
2. Bogdan Tirnanić, “Animirani svet junaka bez svojstava”, Književne novine, Beograd, 1. XII. 97, str. 7