I need a simple, uncomplicated explanation of Baudrillard's basic idea of simulacra and his thoughts about Disneyland as a simulacrum.
In Baudrillard's view, human beings generally value items that are are real and genuine; conversely, we tend to believe that copies or manufactured objects or images are inferior. Baudrillard argues that because we are now in a postmodern age, we can no longer have real experiences. The signs of the real have now replaced the real, and this is what we refer to as a simulacrum. Even though humans are confronted with simulacra regularly, Baudrillard contends that we never stop yearning for the real thing.
Baudrillard believes that the breakdown from the original image to the simulacrum has four stages: in the beginning, the image reflects reality; the image masks a profound reality; the image masks the absence of a profound reality; and, finally, the image bears no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum.
Disneyland is a perfect simulacrum for American life. When we first visit Disneyland, it seems like a slice of quaint Americana. On a second or third visit, we begin to realize that things are actually a little strange. The Main Street is just a little too perfect. The scale of some of the buildings is off, and it doesn't look realistic. And yet, the more we visit, the more it calls to us. The buildings start to feel old and authentic, almost as if they were the original structures. Of course Disneyland is imaginary and we are supposed to believe that everything in the rest of the world is real, but Baudrillard argues that everything is the real world is simulated and hyperreal.
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