Hyperreality is more real than real. This is… actually sounds… if some of this sounds like advertising slogans: good. Because in Baudrillard the heritage of philosophy and social theory has passed over into advertising and television. So if it sounds superficial: good, because the theory; the world that he looks at has become superficial and banal. If it sounds hokey like a salesman’s pitch: good. The world he describes is the world of Jurassic Park not of Dante. So that is all evidence on the side of Baudrillard if you follow the argument deep enough and with enough clarity.
Okay let me explain the concept of hyperreality; this is an important concept in Baudrillard. In Baudrillard, we have already said that reality is simply that which could be simulated. Can’t be simulated; not real. But more real than real is a reality… and I guess again I could give you… and I hate to use these movie examples if you haven’t seen the movies but in A Clockwork Orange there is a great line that anticipates the postmodern. When the character played by Malcolm McDowell says “It’s funny how blood isn’t really blood until you viddy it on the screen”; until you see it on a movie screen. In real life it looks kind of brown and mucky, on the screen it looks sort of more real than real blood and this sense of the sort of hyperreality we get with cinema, we get with television and so on is another phenomenon Baudrillard wants to examine.
And I think that here we get… and I guess my politics are showing again, but here we get the phenomenon of Reagan; the hyperreal president, more real than real. I mean he’s better at being Harry Truman than Harry Truman. I mean, the distinction about what he is is lost in the hyperreality of his smile which like the Cheshire Cat’s, you know, just gleams across his face and we get for the first time a phenomenon never known in polling which is the phenomenon of not liking a person, but of liking liking a person. This is a sign you are dealing with the hyperreal.
Let me go over that again: Reagan’s popularity was popular. When you went through the various traits of Reagan and what Reagan stood for and his policies and so on vast numbers of people disliked nearly all of them. What was popular was his popularity and I don’t think that Reagan’s alone in this.
Show business figures had this same thing go on for years. I can’t remember the last Michael Jackson song that I even listened to – or my kids who also don’t like Michael Jackson – but he’s popular, but not in the old sense. It is a hyper popularity, if you follow me. It is popular that he is popular.