December 18, 2006

A POSTMODERN MOMENT, WITH A BONUS WV RANT





Caption: Ferdinand likes to watch the people channel. This is how it starts.

(First, an apology: Goat Rope was recently switched to a new form of software which is getting on El Cabrero's last nerve. Please excuse weirdness in spacing and format.)

El Cabrero is having more and more postmodern moments lately. These are those times when the current cultural shift from things to images of things to images of images is particularly striking.


Here are some examples:

*Two perfectly healthy kids playing a video game version of basketball on a fine day when a real basketball court is a minute away;

*The political switch from substance to soundbite and policy to photo op;

*Cyber-dating and related virtual activities;

*Movies about making movies, and movies about the breakdown of the distinction between images and "reality" like Blade Runner or The Matrix, etc.


But the one that takes the cake is the booming market in virtual reality. According to the Dec. 18th Business Week,

"In 2006 the fast-rising virtual world, Second Life, became the hottest commercial (un)real estate online. It resembles a video game, but here people create avatars, or graphic representations of themselves, and proceed to build everything from buildings to businesses. Thousands of people make at least $20,000 a year from selling virtual clothing, houses, shopping malls, games, and more."


More and more business are spending real money buying virtual real estate with real money as a way of reaching more (presumably real) customers.

It is virtually the understatement of the year to say that things are starting to get really weird.



By the way, for as good a definition of postmodernism as you are likely to get, check out this talking animal blast from the Goat Rope past.

BONUS WEST VIRGINIA RANT

In the same issue of Business Week, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who recently tried and failed to buy the state legislature, had the dubious distinction of being cited in an item on CEOs who offer the best and worst bang for the corporate buck. He wound up on the "Worst Value" list, "earning" $32.6 million himself while the company's return on investment was -27.1 percent.

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

2 comments:

Claude Scales said...

Sounds like it would be poetic justice if Mr. Blankenship woke up Christmas morning and found a bit of his own product in his stocking.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

For the most part, those of us living in the First World—the capitalist democracies that are technologically advanced and whose citizens have a high standard of living—aren’t hampered by struggling to meet the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, and clothing. So many have turned to the so-called “virtual world” for a raison d’etre. That’s unfortunate in many ways.