It’s you again – I was just about to put these coconut cupcakes in the oven, but I guess it can wait until we’re done talking.
The secret is to replace some of the water with buttermilk, it really helps the dough fluff up. But I don’t want to bore you with details on cupcakes, you’re here to talk about something else, right?
What’s on your mind? Reality TV, pop music? Let’s talk about that for a moment, that’s fine by me. Funny how they call it reality TV, isn’t it? I mean, there sure isn’t a lot of video of people sitting around in sweatpants, eating budget tortilla chips with semi-fluid cheese-like “food products” and something barely resembling a gelatinous salsa, in the name of reality, right?
It’s almost as if reality is presented as a never ending party, where the beautiful, affluent and dumb are invited to have fun with sponsored products. Of course, every once in a while, the fun is halted, even if only shortly, by a producer-mandated and carefully measured amount of drama (or, at least, dramatization). Of course things quickly return to a state of inebriation, violence and sex worthy of Dionysus. You know, just like reality.
I’ll be the first to admit, my life doesn’t look much like that. No, seriously – no tanning oil, no celebrities showing up to my house parties, nobody sponsoring my wild, self-destructive habits. But nobody is documenting my life, either, as real as it is. Surprising, I know! But I suppose this does raise questions about what exactly qualifies as reality then, doesn’t it? Seeing as my reality is less documentation-worthy than other realities, does that mean my reality is less real, or less in accordance with reality?
I know what you’re thinking: but it’s just a show! It’s all been carefully planned, scripted, negotiated, contractualized and documented beforehand – it’s not reality, it’s just entertainment.
You’re right, of course – and I’m glad you see it that way. But unfortunately, that doesn’t disqualify the fact that this is presented as reality. And not only that, to many it is a far more desirable reality than yours and mine. Finally, your day dreams and fantasies are realized and televised, much in the way a sausage factory turns meat sludge into tasty treats. We map out the idea of this reality before it exists, we produce it, and present it as the genuine article. In the end, we’re left with a lot of young men and women, disillusioned by their mundane lives, in spite of how we repeat the mantra: “It’s just entertainment.”
We like to think reality is equally shared among us. That my perception of reality is the same as your perception of reality – but it’s not, is it? The way we perceive reality depends on our frame of reference, and our values – the way you interpret events and actions, your perception of self and others, is shaped by what you have been given. And if all you have to work with is fashion magazines, MTV and pornography, it stands to reason that your expectations of reality might fall short. Your entire life, you have been fed ideas about how things should work, look and feel, from just how crumbly your cupcake should be, to your ideal Disney Prince/Princess partner and how much you should weigh.
Some guy called Jean Baudrillard calls this phenomenon hyperreality. When our reality is shaped by something made to simulate a more desirable reality. Some say that people are perfectly capable of distinguishing reality from hyperreality, that people understand and recognize that entertainment and advertising are not accurate representations of real life – I don’t know, what do you think?
Like I said when we spoke earlier – go look at some blogs, with those immaculately clean, well-organized homes, healthy kids and freshly baked bread, and you tell me that we aren’t being influenced by the idea of a more desirable reality. You tell me, that we are perfectly able to distinguish hyperreal from real, when we feel the need to force each other to read about the number of marathons we’ve run in a hailstorm, on Facebook.
We’re going to keep on and on trying to keep up with the Joneses, hoping that someone will recognize just how much of a good job we’re doing – not doing well, but keeping up – even though we feel like we’re barely holding it down, doing what’s meaningful to someone else.
Eventually, we end up spending almost no time doing what’s meaningful to ourselves – like baking cupcakes without feeling the need to take pictures afterwards, sharing them with everyone we know.
Rather than sharing the cupcakes themselves, with everyone we know.
I guess I have to go put them in the oven now.
Please excuse me.