Letter: Oasis in the land of hyperreality

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The Independent Online
Oasis in the land of hyperreality

Sir: Invoking Baudrillard, Peter Popham describes a redoubling of Oasis stories as "post-modern" ("Oasis after the orgy", 30 December). He compares the band's simulation of cultural and aesthetic forms (such as their apparent aping of celebrity) unfavourably with the originality of the Beatles (who apparently discovered transgression, narcotic and otherwise, first). Popham claims that the reduplication of images by and of Oasis keeps them famous long after they should have disappeared. I would like to suggest that Popham misses an important aspect of Baudrillard's argument.

It is right to say that Oasis can gain our attention without absolute justification, but this does not mean that their status is entirely false. This is because they occupy what Baudrillard calls the hyperreal. This is not the unreal any more than it is the absolutely real. Rather, it is a dimension of indistinction between (particularly media) representations and what they purport to represent. The real status of hyperrealities is undecidable, because the media image is real (for example, effective, even if not truthful) just as real things are always minimally mediated (for example, televisually).

This complication is absent from Popham's article, which appeals to entirely real and unreal things as soon as it suggests that (real) people are duped into consuming Oasis despite their false (or unreal) media image. Against these appeals, it is worth considering the possibility that Oasis fans buy their music despite as well as because of their media image, and that Popham's article is just another article about how there should be fewer articles about Oasis.


School of Literary and Media Studies

University of North London

London N7