Better than real- culture of the fake
1st April, 2009
Who needs nature when you can manufacture a superior, ersatz substitute?
Visitors to the British Museum this May (2005) would have found an unusual exhibit beneath a limestone statue and a ﬁrst-century tombstone. A cave painting of a spear-carrying caveman pushing a supermarket trolley. It wasn’t discovered until a few days after it had been hung by art prankster Banksy.
Banksy was making a succinct point about fooling people. The picture’s unreality is only given up on study: we see a ﬁnely executed picture, a satirical commentary on consumerism, and an aside on how easy it is to hide the inauthentic among the authentic.
He’s right. Fake culture is everywhere. Don’t be fooled by talk of ‘reality TV’ or of ‘keeping it real’. There’s a fake for everything. Our museums are full of fake pieces. Politicians in the US are debating whether they should label ‘news’ put out by the PR industry and government departments as fake; as it stands, broadcast news is able to transmit these video press releases, fronted by actors and looking like real news, but with a positive, spun edge, straight to air alongside their real reports. You can’t tell the difference, apart from the fact that fake news is a lot happier and...
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