In our never-ending search for truth, we have consulted a preeminent French cultural expert on a stunning phenomenon: American celebrities professing love to a UK-based soccer club which has not won anything for over 6 years. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? These are the questions that will not be resolved.
So, without further ado, our interview with Jean Baudrillard.
Editor: Bau-dawg, if I may be so frank, your seminal works on critical theory and the media have not been very popular stateside. Thus, a brief intro for our audience. Basically, you have focused on how technology affects communication, with the basic premise that meaning cannot be separated from how words interrelate. Thus, based on this theory, how do you think Chad Ochocino found out about Arsenal FC? Twitter? Cable TV? Tumblr?
JB: Well, first we must clarify the nature of meaning and, sadly, the answer is negative (chuckles to himself). Meaning is the casting away of other meanings, the discarding of other possibilities. When I say “dog,” I am also saying “not cat.” When you say “Chad Ochocinco,” you are also saying “not Chad CuatroUno.” When this celebrity says “Arsenal,” he is also saying “Not Chelsea.”
Editor: And when he focuses on the EPL, he’s also saying “MLS stinks.” I get your point. However, you’ve also posited that an object’s meaning cannot be separated from images of that object, re-creations of that object, and depictions of that object. You posited a theory of a web of meaning, so that I can’t experience my own knowing of Michael Jordan without also experiencing my knowledge of his face gracing cereal boxes. So, Baudrilla-rilla-zilla, ain’t no one illa, do you think that the EPL balls-on marketing campaign has influenced these celebrities? Did that Henry Nike commercial with the cute dog get all caught up in their web of meaning? Or do they all just have the same anglo publicist?
JB: from the onset, I am skeptical of this endeavor you seek to inquire into. It seems as though you desire to explore the minutiae of the subject beyond the signifier of its meaning, yet this search will only lead you to a delusional path of hyperreality. In the 21st century, with the twitter and Facebook and GooglePlus, we have placed the little under the collective magnifying glass so that it now appears bigger than it is or should be.
Editor: Yet your own post-structural brethren would criticize you for ignoring power relationships. As someone who believes in transparency and human solidarity, I find the world’s ability to see and empathize with local suffering as a plus, so we’ll just have to disagree on that Baudie-poo. But, just kinda ignoring that last part about what you said, isn’t it kinda weird that Michael Moore likes Arsenal even though European soccer is a product of a global capitalist mega-sytem which arguably contributes to human trafficking in Africa? It’s like, dude, you should be making a documentary on this, not buying season tickets. Your thoughts?
JB: Well, as you are aware, my focus has always been on “consumption” in our society, not so much “production.” Thus, I share your curiosity at Mr. Moore and Mr. OchoCinco’s desire to consume the Arsenal, or at least exchange signs of linkage. In attempting to explain this, we must always remember that there is no innate need, but rather our society constructs needs for objects and then imposes this construction upon our consciousness.
Editor: Sorta like snoods? Speaking of which, Arsenal has recently lost Samir Nasri to Manchester City. The Blues are perhaps the sports team epitome of “symbolic” and “sign” value player purchases – they often buy good players from rivals only to sit them on the bench. The players have “symbolic” value because they are relatively good players, and also have “sign” value because they bring prestige to the club. Conversely, Arsenal under Wenger focuses more on Moneyball “functional” and “exchange” purchases. Do you think Michael Moore or Chad Ochocino can even tell the difference between Theirry Henry and Nicklas Bendtner? Or does a bargain bin used pair of underpants look like a solid “symbolic” purchase to them?
JB: There will always exist a tension between sign value and symbolic value, yet even I have my doubts as to whether Mr. Moore, Mr. Ochocino, or Mr. Z has knowledge or seen Arsenal’s new signing Gervinho before this year. However, I must admit, even my Marxist theory cannot escape the web of meaning. That is to say, Arsenal consumes these players and also adds symbolic value to them. Otherwise, Denilson would probably be mopping a floor somewhere.
Editor: Little Baud Wow, I’d also like to take a moment and ask about Arsenal FC and your term “the end of history.” Basically, you assert that contemporary society has so widely utilized the notion of “progress” that progress is now inevitable and thus meaningless. Since the end of the Cold War, you have sharply criticized the lack of a “Utopian dream” in popular thought, media, and philosophy as evidence that we live in a schizophrenic world where we love the world as is because we have rejected progress while accepting no progress as progress. Does this theory also accurately describe why Arsenal hasn’t won anything for six years?
Editor: Billy Bau-den, we have one last question, from a reader. Nick, of London, wants to know…
When post-structuralists write correspondence, do they refer to their school of thought in initials as P.S.? And, if so, have they ever written a letter and ended it with a P.S., similar to postscript, thereby causing confusion?
JB:Well, as my theory clearly states, meaning comes from interrelatedness. So, no, I have not seen P.S. at the end of a letter and been confused – I normally can tell from the letter if they meant to write a postscript as well. They also usually write more after putting P.S. for a postscript.
This is obviously a work of satire. JB passed away several years ago and may he rest in hyperreal peace.